Bolivian Crisis could lead to Civil War
This institutional crisis aggravated after the approval of the Constitutional Reform. To ratify it, it is necessary a popular referendum. Since President Evo Morales’s adversaries did not participated in the session in which the National Assembly ratified the Reform, they do not recognize it.
Besides that, the opposition have heavy criticisms in relation to the destination that the government is giving to the Direct Tax on Hydrocarbons (IDH). Evo Morales shifted the tax that was sent to the provinces derived from the gas and oil explorations, to a Grant for people over 60 years of age. These resources are considered by the opposition provinces (Beni, Pando, Tarija and Santa Cruz) to be crucial for their financial balances.
In addition to all that, these provinces, known as “Media Luna” are determined to acquire their autonomy from the La Paz government.
Based on that situation, we have three possible scenarios:
1. Civil War between government and opposition: Today it is not possible to affirm that this will occur. Nevertheless, the escalation of conflicts and the behaviour of the opposition indicate that this is a scenario that cannot be disregarded. In absolute terms, this possibility is still very small. It is the last consequence for both sides. Among the several problems that this catastrophic event would bring, we are able to identify sensible points in which Brazil and other South American nations would encounter:
a. The distribution of natural gas would be completely affected. The gas pipes would be among the main targets of opposition groups, with the intention to gather the attention of the international community. Besides, the efforts to guarantee the distribution logistics would be insufficient. In Brazil, industries related to food, beverage and ceramics would be heavily affected in the Southwest and Southern regions.
b. In Argentina, the situation would be even worse. The industries in the Buenos Aires regions are very dependent on the Bolivian gas. Besides, Argentina is an important gas supplier to Uruguay and Chile. In Chile, a significant amount of the industries are heavily dependent on the Bolivian gas distributed by Argentina.
c. Politically, many countries would be directly affected. Brazil would have to deal with approximately 400 thousand refugees. Argentina would have to accommodate approximately 100 thousand in the Jujuy, border region.
d. In the eventuality of a civil war, there would be the risk that the conflict could GO beyond Bolivian borders. Indigenous population that sees in Evo Morales their leader inhabits the borer with Peru. With the heavy local influence of Peruvian opposition leader, Ollanta Humala, He could use the situation to try to destabilize Alan Garcia’s administration.
e. There is an important military agreement between Bolivia and Venezuela. The agreement foresees and eventual Venezuelan intervention in the case of a domestic threatening situation that puts risk to Morales and the Bolivian government.
2. Maintaining the division in the country: This is the most possible scenario. Due to the intense control Morales exerts over social movements, as well as the legitimacy He earned in the last referendum, indicates that the opposition does not have enough strength to cause the downfall of Morales. On the other hand, the deepening of the Bolivian crisis suggests that the opposition will not retreat in its quest for autonomy. The instability environment is more apt to be the ruling situation for a while. The profiles of the opposition and the government are of total antagonism. The causes defended by each of the sides make it virtually impossible to find a middle term. Recently, the president of the Civic Committee of Tarija Said that the only way out would be to adopt the “German model, one east and one West”. In case Morales manages to perpetuate in power, than we can expect a scenario closer to the first one.
3. Deal between government and opposition. The chance of this happening today is close to zero. The bellicose environment installed in Bolivia shows that the country is closer to an institutional collapse than to a deal between the two parts. The dialogue is practically inexistent. The deal is far from happening since there is no structure or basis for an eventual deal. Brazil could be the one to architect a deal of this natures, but it has been the characteristic of this government not to participate in situations like this. The argumentation used by the Brazilian Foreign Affairs is that this is a domestic issue in Bolivia. In case the tensions escalate a little more, the repercussions and prejudices will easily affect all the region and especially Brazil.
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