Bolivia – Privatization or Nationalization?
Bolivia was once a rich and prosperous country but is now one of the poorest nations in the world. The economy of Bolivia used to be rich in agriculture and mining but now searches to find something prosperous again. Privatization of certain companies has started in the country but was expelled when mass protests began. The companies’ prices are too high and the people used their culture and history to get rid of them. The Cochabamba protests of 2000 and the Bolivian gas referendum of 2004 are a couple of examples that show the power the people of Bolivia have over their own government.
The History of Bolivia
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Under these circumstances Paraguay some how won the war and took even more territory away from Bolivia (Figure 1). Bolivia needs some kind of political power to help save their country and the Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (MNR) emerged and took over Bolivia for a few years. They push for great prosperity and many reforms but couldn’t seem to sway the people. Many different political parties kept fighting back and forth causing the government to never gain any kind of stability. The weakness of this government would never recover and to this day is still considered very weak (World66).
The Economic History of Bolivia
Bolivia has not always been a poor nation. In fact, in began as a very prosperous agricultural community. The natives farmed these lands until a very serious drought came. Then the Spanish came in and introduced mining to the Bolivian people. Silver became a huge industry in the area. The Bolivian region became one of the wealthiest and most populated areas of South America. Although money was flowing into Bolivia, the natives still remained very poor. In fact, they never saw a dime from these silver mines because they were forced to work the mines while the newly settled Spanish reaped all of the benefits of the Bolivian silver. Soon the silver was depleted from the mines and by the end of the 18th century the country became poor again.
Then to the surprise of the country mining was back on track again. At the end of the 19th century, tin prices were on the rise and many tine ores were found in the old silver mines. Many men became wealthy again including this very lucky man:
“One tin-mining fortune was made by Simon Patiño, who worked as a clerk in a general store that sold supplies to mining prospectors. One day a man came into the stores for supplies but had nothing of value to pay for them except a deed to a mine. Patiño took pity on the miner and accepted the mine deed as payment. When the owner of the store found out about the transaction he was furious. He told Patiño that he was fired and that his wages would be paid in the form of the dubious mine deed taken in trade for the store's supplies. Patiño , not able to find another job, went to the mine to see what he could do with it. The mine appeared to be worth little but Patiño discovered a vein of tin ore in 1899 and ultimately became one of the world's wealthiest individuals. Patiño proved to be a master of organization, something that probably no one realized during the early part of his life when he worked for others (Watkins, 03).”
Soon enough, tin prices would drop because of the depression and the country was again in great turmoil. More wars would occur and more land was lost. Bolivia didn’t even seem to care because they even sold a bunch of their land to get some money. Once the depression was over tin prices finally went up again. Hoping to get the country on track again the Bolivian National Revolution of 1952...