Compare and contrast the struggle for democracy in Bolivia and Peru
Compare and contrast the struggle for democracy in Bolivia and Peru.
The fight for democracy in Latin America is not something that is very different from what is happening in other parts of the world - Compare and contrast the struggle for democracy in Bolivia and Peru introduction. The struggle for democracy has been very vibrant in both Peru and Bolivia in the recent past and even today. Both countries were under military regimes that had no regard for democracy and human development except pursuance of egoistic interests by some of the leaders. The citizens of these nations are very active when it comes to the fight for their rights and to change it from military rule to democracy however; the transition process has not been an easy ride as there are a lot of obstacles, setbacks and challenges that have to be met. The struggle for democracy in Bolivia was triggered by lack of freedom and equality in distribution of resources whereas in Peru, it is due to suppression of people’s rights by the military rule. The main concern of this essay is to compare and contrast the struggle for democracy in Bolivia and Peru.
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The military rule in Peru came in power in October 1968 when the military force spearheaded by Juan Velasco Alvarado opted not to abide by the constitution and arrested the politicians who were opposing him. In the same year in June, this government assumed control of the International Petroleum Company thereby straining Peru’s relationship with the United States. This regime tried to introduce some structural adjustments but they could not materialize. (Yashar, D. 2005)Large debts that had nobody was accountable accumulated and this continued up to 1980 when it switched leadership to the same politicians whom it had ousted in 1968. In 1980 election were held and Fernando Balaunde won but his new regime contrary to the expectations of many as it stubbornly stuck to neo-liberalism in exports. This was obviously a bad idea as the world at that time was experiencing a difficult time in terms of the economy and this led to inflation and this frustrated the citizens who had banked all their hope on that government. (Yashar, D. 2005)
This Peruvian government was inaccessible to its citizens as it distanced itself from the people. It harassed ant tortured those that tried to block it from doing its things. Sooner than later, it lost the trust it enjoyed from the citizens. Attempts in Peru to restore democracy have been made but the restoration process has been hampered by some various obstacles that have to be solved. There are opposition leaders who agitate for the rights of innocent citizens but their goals were never achieved as for example in 1990, Fujimori, the then president would intimidate and even bribe them with money thus killing the political vibrancy in the opposition. (Kenneth, R. 1996)
Democracy has also been tried to be restored through various methods and one of them is through constitutional reforms but those in power do not respect the constitution for example, when elections were held in 2000 and failed to meet the international standard as free and fair, Fujimori went ahead and declared himself the president though it was against the constitution and this is something that greatly polarized the nation.
In Peru, political unrests are a common thing as people try to express their discontent through them. They use protests as a means to restore democracy by frustrating the corrupt and oppressive leaders in this regime. It should be noted that democracy cannot be realized if obstacles that impede on democracy restoration cannot be addressed and these are obstacles like the top military leaders and the Montesinos. It is being said that Montesinos bribed the opposition leaders so that they would not oppose the government moves. Unlike in the Bolivian case, there is no bribing that goes on between the government officials and the opposition. Bribery is one of the major stumbling blocks that hamper the realization of democracy and this is true because in 2000 elections, Fujimori manipulated the press to favor him in his campaigns. He also controlled the electoral agencies and used the state’s resources to finance his campaigns. In Bolivia, in the election that was held in 2002, the campaign money was gotten from international sources. (Barr, R. 2005)
Peruvian authoritarian regime has also been receiving pressure from the external world and especially from the United States. Citizens in a bid to force the government to respect their rights and uphold democracy request the international donors to cutoff all non humanitarian aid so that the government would collapse and the same is applied to trade where people are asking for sanctions and embargos. The same thing happens to the Bolivian regime so that it would try to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor by distributing resources more equitably.
The Bolivians in their struggle for democracy face a lot of challenges such as suppression by the government from expressing their rights. Just like with the Peruvian regime that used military, the same happened to Bolivia. The Bolivian administration and especially that of that of Siles Suazo and Garcial Meza has been oppressive to its citizens for example politicians used state’s resources for their personal gains. They traded gas with Chile which is their arch enemy on promise that the citizens would benefit much. This country has very rich reserves of gas but its citizens live in penury in fact, it is one of the poorest states in Latin America. Where in Peru mostly fight for freedom in Bolivia people fight for equitable distribution of resources.
There are various mechanisms that are used in the search for democracy. As people became poorer and poorer, the rich continues to get richer and they could no longer keep quiet and so they reacted. This was in line with their constitution that states the gas belongs to the state as opposed to individuals. People did this by protesting in the streets and in calming this situation, the government returned the gas to them through a scheme called private share holding but people were not contented with what the government was doing as they were not shared on equal basis.
As people decided to go to the streets, the then president Gonzalo Sanchez ordered the troops to attack the protestors and scores of them were killed. This was a trial to intimidate them from fighting for their rights. Protests is one of the methods that are used in the fight for democracy and the same thing also happened when the hydrocarbon law that was passed by the congress failed to address the status of the citizens despite the fact that foreign taxes were raised. (Eaton, K. 2007)
Privatization of government is also a method that is used in creating democracy in Bolivia for example the sale of a water company though this did not successively address the problem of the Bolivians. Like the same case which happened in Peru, the same was witnessed in Bolivia where government troops attacked innocent protestors and many perished.
In conclusion, both countries have been fighting for their rights but the cause is a bit different. For Bolivians, it is particularly concerned with their resource base where those in the government want to use state’s resources for their own good at the expense of others. In both countries, intimidation and arresting of the opposition members is a common thing and some have even lost their lives. Both countries face some difficulties in fighting for their rights and democracy and these obstacles have to be cleared if democracy is to be achieved.
Barr, R. Bolivia: Another Uncompleted Revolution in Latin American Politics and Society 47 (3): Fall 2005; 69-90.
Eaton, K. Backlash in Bolivia: Regional Autonomy as a Reaction against Indigenous Mobilization, Politics and Society. 35 (1) March 2007; 71- 102.
Gamarra, E. Crafting Support for Stabilization: Political Pacts and the New Economic Policy in Bolivia. William Smith, ed., Democracy, Markets, and Structural Reform. North-South Center Press, 1996; 105- 123.
Yashar, D. Contesting Citizenship in Latin America: The Rise of Indigenous Movements and the Post liberal Challenge. Cambridge University Press, New York. 2005; 152-190, 224-250.
Kenneth, R. Neo-liberalism and the Transformation of Populism in Latin America: The Peruvian Case. World Politics 48 (1) 1996; 82- 116.