Friday, September 14, 2007

Bolivians Fight Over Capital Location


NY Times - What's Bolivia's Capital? The Answer is Disputed Here

LA Times - "Capital War" is Bolivia's Latest Battle

Residents of Sucre, Bolivia in the eastern region believe that their city should be the rightful capital and are waging a campaign to prove it. Until 1899, Sucre was the capital of Bolivia, but after a civil war it was switched to La Paz. Leaders of Sucre claim that the capital is rightfully theirs and that it was wrongfully taken. Meanwhile, an estimated one million supporters of Bolivian President Evo Morales gathered at the center of La Paz in order to rally support for the current capital location.

The dispute between Bolivia’s cities goes beyond just civic pride, however. Sucre is home to a wealthier and lighter-skinned mestizo population, whereas La Paz has a greater indigenous population. Distribution of revenues from natural gas has caused conflicts between Sucre and La Paz in the past.

Complicating matters is the constitutional convention that has been occurring in Sucre for the past year. The presidency of Evo Morales, the country’s first indigenous leader, has led to a re-thinking of the country’s social structures and economy. Inspired by Morales, 10,000 La Paz residents drove or marched to Sucre in order to protest against a possible capital move. For now, the constitutional assembly has been postponed.


1. Is there any principled reason to move the Bolivian capital, or is it merely a struggle between different self-interested demographic groups in Bolivia?

2. Does the passage this week of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples give support to Morales and Bolivia’s indigenous majority receiving a greater share of Bolivia’s natural resource profits than they have in the past?

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