On Thursday, January 10 at 10:00 a.m., controversial leftist leader Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second 6-year term as President of Venezuela despite deteriorating economic and political conditions throughout the country. Although Maduro’s inauguration crowd was undeniably more sparse than in the past, a few leaders and foreign dignitaries made a point to make an appearance and show their support for the regime in spite of widespread international criticism.
This October, the international community saw a new development in an ongoing territorial dispute between the South American nations of Bolivia and Chile.
Being a six-year old in the United States means many things--few responsibilities, no stress, no problems. In Bolivia, however, this age symbolizes quite a different path: in some households, this marks the age where children begin to provide for their families in the only way that they can, through working. Thousands of children as young as six work in Bolivian silver mines. Each day, these children are responsible for carrying out one of the most dangerous jobs in one of the most impoverished countries of Latin America.
Turmoil and conflict is nothing new to the countries in Latin America, and the last few months some of the most prosperous countries have been experiencing problems. Argentina’s currency took a nosedive, leaving the country in crisis. Brazil’s growth rate has slowed significantly and World Cup protests are growing by the day. And oil heavy Venezuela is experiencing massive protests over inflation and shortages.
The Bolivian government has passed legislation that will allow children as young as 10 to seek employment. While such a movement is obviously controversial, and has been met with plenty of negative feedback, the purpose of such a law is reportedly an attempt to lower the existing level of child labor within the country. Primarily due to the economic conditions in Bolivia for the past few decades, child labor has been illegally practiced in jobs that a reasonable person would not consider to be suitable for children (Worstall).
Ever since May 1st, 2006, Bolivia has been profiting from the nationalization of the gas industry. Before 2006, the gas industry was controlled by the private companies drilling in Bolivia, and they were receiving 71% of the profit which amounted to USD 832 million.
The ‘pink tide’ refers to the group of progressive governments elected in Latin America in the first decade of the 21st century. But it is an odd metaphor to use about elections. With its sense of powerful forces moving across the landscape, it is descriptive of how these new governments came to power – carried into the state by mass mobilisations from below. The question, however, is how far and in what direction can these governments go in transforming the region?
The sweep of the pink tide across the central Andes has been associated with populism. From Hugo Chávez and his successor, Nicolás Maduro, in Venezuela, to Evo Morales in Bolivia, and Rafael Correa in Ecuador, more than in any other region the Andean New Left has been associated with leadership styles and approaches to governing that many have characterized as populist.
The Bolivian LGBT community celebrated a historic triumph this past November when transgender Bolivians officially gained the right to change their name, sex and gender on legal documents.