RELEASE DATE: 29 Oct, 2018

EDITORIAL BY Caroline Risacher

Our Cover: Alejandro Loayza Grisi

‘We are building a real, concrete and successful alternative to capitalism,’ President Evo Morales said in a speech to the UN General Assembly earlier this year. Bolivia’s economic growth in the last ten years and the regime’s stability in an unstable regional context are proof that there is some truth to President Morales’s words. Back in 2009, the new Constitution was the first to mention the rights of Pachamama and to promote Suma Qamaña, principles which still represent today a legitimate alternative to capitalism.

But saying that Bolivia is not a capitalist country feels a bit naive. Mercantilism is king here. Because of the lack of industry – something that many countries that have been exploited for their primary resources have in common – Bolivia became a nation of merchants, importing (and smuggling) most of its manufactured goods from abroad. For the last 500 years and until the election of Morales, Bolivia has been defined by the rule of free markets imposed by foreign powers; it would and should take longer than a decade to move past these structures. Which is why the world has its eyes on Bolivia, one of the last socialist countries standing, and one of the few with an indigenous cosmovisión mentioned in its Constitution.

Bolivia is a country of alternatives. Partly because of the central notion of Suma Qamaña, a strong focus has been placed on finding alternative sources of energy, eating better, reducing waste through recycling and learning to live more consciously. Foreign practices like yoga, reiki and meditation are finding a growing base of supporters around the country. And in some other ways, Bolivians are finding themselves again by embracing their own craftsmanship and making their own products instead of the made-in-China imported goods that flood the country – the same goods that trusting tourists bring back home as souvenirs.

In previous issues of Bolivian Express, we’ve written about a different range of Bolivian products that are being rediscovered. Bolivians are now drinking their own locally grown coffee instead of imported freeze-dried coffee. The same is happening with a variety of other merchandise: cacao, fruits and vegetables, alpaca and llama wools, and many more. Finally, Bolivia is starting to export goods and showing to the world what it is capable of producing.

Undoubtedly, the country is changing. This may be motivated by necessity or ideology, but one can’t ignore the upcoming 2019 presidential elections that are increasingly dividing the country. And when talking about alternatives, one cannot ignore the elephant in the room: the alternatives to Evo. One year from now, a president will be elected or re-elected. Primaries are scheduled for 27 January 2019, and as of today, the lack of potential alternatives is the biggest threat to the country and its unity. For Bolivia to stay as the beacon of hope against capitalism, and to remain a credible alternative, it is essential that the next elections accurately respect the state of democracy in Bolivia.


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