Bolivia Balances Political Stridency, Economic Pragmatism

Bolivia Balances Political Stridency, Economic Pragmatism

Too often, political and economic analysts summarily lump Bolivia together with the rest of South America’s leftist governments.

That has not been a comfortable category to be in over the past decade, and recent developments on the continent -- such as Argentina’s nationalization of Spanish oil company YPF in April and Venezuela’s January announcement that it would withdraw from the World Bank-hosted International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a key arbitration forum -- have only further rattled investors and governments. Even moderate Brazil has recently raised eyebrows with its tough treatment of multinational oil companies.

But President Evo Morales’ Bolivia is a special case, and a somewhat paradoxical one. The Morales administration follows a mercurial foreign policy and has nationalized strategic assets, including natural gas fields and utilities. And yet, at the same time, it manages Bolivia’s economy and public accounts prudently -- even conservatively.

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