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Volume 53 / Social Sciences


WILLIAM R. GARNER, Associate Professor of Political Science, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

THE RETURN TO PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE of Siles Suazo and Paz Estenssorro in the 1980s produced a romantic sense of déjà vu, a trend which was noted in HLAS 51. During the current Paz Zamora regime, however, the most prominent focus in the literature is on Bolivia's "narcotraffic" together with the myriad of domestic and international problems associated with it. Most writers view coca production per se as a novel, and dangerous pretext for unwarranted US intervention. Parotani (item bi 90012843), for example, characterizes Washington policy as the result of a "program of persecution...against those countries of the world whose most valuable commodity is cocaine." Kawell also notes major stresses unnecessarily and unexpectedly inflicted on rural Andean cultures when the millennia-old coca-based economy is suddenly disturbed and targeted by the US as a threat to its national security (items bi 91000099 and bi 91000097). This sentiment is echoed in a major piece by Kevin Healy which concludes that, along with the fact that the coca leaf is the "symbol of Andean culture," coca-leaf producer syndicates have formed the most sophisticated and potent network of mass-based political organizations ever to appear in post-colonial Bolivia (item bi 91009076). Mostajo Valdivieso (item bi 91024471) has compiled a collection of papers submitted at Bolivian Senate hearings, the thrust of which is that a "Bolivian solution," is the only functional answer to the problem. Moore Casanovas characterizes the Bolivian "narcocracy" as so powerful that it has usurped the central government's traditional role of capital accumulation (item bi 91007432). An example of this is the scandal involving Bolivian military officers who were implicated in the drug trade (item bi 90012850).

Two strong general assessments of Bolivia's sociopolitical system are found in Gamarra and Malloy's article (item bi 91006657) and in a book-length introduction to the country by Morales (item bi 92005885). There are also two strong ILDIS monographs, Debate: sobre la reforma del sistema político (item bi 91024470) and Democracia y desarrollo en Bolivia (item bi 91024483), which address the ongoing centralization-decentralization debate. Other publications of importance are seen in the Foro Económico Santa Cruz (item bi 90012838), Franco Guachalla (item bi 93016682), Molina Saucedo (item bi 91024487), and Romero Pittari (item bi 91007838), who presents an amazingly optimistic prognosis in spite of major geographic, administrative, and partisan fragmentation, and Valverde (item bi 93017930), who urges adaptation of federalism through constitutional amendment.

Studies of political ideology are, as usual, concentrated on the left. In this vein, note an increase in publications by Izquierda Unida (e.g., item bi 90012856). IU's national platform (item bi 91024477), on which it won seven percent of the 1989 national vote, is also available. Guillermo Lora, long-time polemicist for the Revolutionary Workers Party (POR), continues to generate a prodigious number of works (item bi 90012858). An extremely far left pro-Hoxha's Albania critique has been written by Ruiz González (item bi 90012847). There is also a Christian Democratic Party commentary prepared by Miguel Harb (item bi 90012841). Perspectives supportive of Bánzer Suárez, the ADR, and the military can be found in Gamarra Zorilla (item bi 89001542) and Gumucio Peñafiel (item bi 91024479). An interpretation of Bolivia's military as a major political actor and negative force after 1952 is presented by Ardaya Salinas (item bi 91000985), who attributes its role to the MNR's failure to institutionalize its rule and create the necessary sociopolitical system. Labor politics and policy are the subject of several studies (e.g., items bi 91024478, bi 91024469, bi 91024468, bi 91024485, and bi 91024529). Examples of strong evaluations of the current neoliberal economic policy are works by Antezana (item bi 90012855) and Granado (item bi 90012851).

Important contributions in the area of Bolivian public institutions and electoral processes are available in two works by Mesa Gisbert (items bi 91024473 and bi 90013506), and Rivadeneira Prada has produced a rare assessment of the role of television in recent Bolivian campaigns (item bi 90012852). Quality voting behavior studies, also a rarity in the Bolivian literature, are found in works by Baldivia Urdininea (items bi 91024480 and bi 90012842). Other useful analyses of municipal elections are found in Hofmann (item bi 90012853) and in a solid statistical compilation by the Corte Nacional Electoral (item bi 91024482).

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