Bolivia has been under attack for centuries. Recently, since they kicked out Bechtel after most of the population didn't want to pay half their salaries to buy drinking water, and the election of Evo Morales with true democratic credentials that can teach the West a thing or two about what democracy, Bolivia started to chart an independent course.
But the history of colonial rule has been criminal. Spain, Europe, the United States, left a sharp internal division within Bolivia, between a very wealthy small elite and a huge mass of impoverished people. The correlation to race is fairly close. Typically, the rich elite was white, European, westernized; and the poor mass of the population was indigenous, Indian, black, intermingled, and so on. It’s a fairly close correlation, and it continues right ’til the present.
The white, mostly white, elites who ran the country had very few interrelations with the other countries of the region. They were Western-oriented. You can see that in all sorts of ways. That’s where the capital was exported. That’s where the second homes were, where the children went to the universities, where their cultural connections were, and so on. And they had very little responsibility in their own societies. So there’s very sharp division.
You can see it, for example, in imports. Imports are mostly luxury goods, overwhelmingly. Development, such as it was, was mostly foreign. It was much more open, Latin America, much more open to foreign investment than, say, East Asia. It’s part of the reason for their radically different paths of development in the last couple of decades.
And, of course, the elite elements were very strongly sympathetic to the neoliberal programs of the last 25 years, which enriched them — destroyed the countries, but enriched them. Latin America, more than any region in the world, outside of southern Africa, adhered rigorously to the so-called Washington Consensus, what’s called outside the United States the neoliberal programs of roughly the past 30 years. And everywhere where they were rigorously applied, they led to disaster. There’s scarcely an exception. Very striking correlation. Sharp reduction in rates of growth, other macroeconomic indices, all the social effects that go along with that.