For the last 41 years, a conflict per day

This cartoon appeared in Los Tiempos, April 11, 2012. The first person, portraying someone from current government, saying “blockade…strike…blockade…blockade…”

a man says “the government is committed to prevent that marches and blockades continue!”

‘avernoy’ replies “and you think they will succeed, bro?”

the dog thinks “doctor Frankenstein trying to stop their creation work”

SO let’s read this important article that was written by Gonzalo Chavez and published in Los Tiempos, April 17, 2012:

For the last 41 years, a conflict per day

According to a report by the Unir Bolivia Foundation, the level of conflict has increased significantly in recent months in the country. The data are chilling. 97 cases were recorded only in February. In the year 2007, in the same month, there had been only six social conflicts.

The report also records that there were 242 manifestations. If we opt for a historical perspective, in 41 years Bolivia has had a conflict and a half per day, this result comes from dividing the 14,000 days strikes and work stoppages recorded between 9,600 workdays that have these four decades. To say that all these years, something which has not ever stopped in Bolivia were the conflicts. Every day someone has been protesting for good or bad reasons. This is certainly a record for the Guinness book that we should register it.

In the democratic era that began in the mid-1980s, the Government of Hernán Siles administration had the record of 1,825 strikes, work stoppages and other events which gives an average of 54 events per month. It should be recalled that this was the period of hyperinflation that destroyed the Bolivian economy.

During the Paz Estenssoro administration there were 1,180 social problems, with an average of 24.6. As you will recall, here began the neo-liberal period.

Paz Zamora had 968 strikes and demonstrations, which means a monthly average of 20.2. In the first Government of Sanchez de Lozada 631 conflicts were checked, the monthly average was 13.1. The Government of the general Banzer had 1,364 events. Jorge Quiroga 355 and the second Government of Sanchez de Lozada recorded 518 social mobilization actions.

The Government of Carlos Mesa also recorded a high conflict with 1,042 events, resulting in an average of 52.4 per month. The short administration of President Eduardo Rodríguez had 248 conflicts.

If someone thinks that with the President Evo, by being a Government of social movements, conflict would tend to decrease, couldn’t be more wrong. Conflicts have increased significantly.

Current data from the center of studies on economic and Social reality (Ceres) show that during the administration of President Evo Morales, until December 2010, there have been 2,973 events, i.e. 50,4 conflicts per month.

In 2011 and the early months of 2012 accumulated conflicts are close to 1,500. Therefore, the Morales Administration has by far exceeded the record of President Siles Zuazo and to date, we have had something like 4,473 conflicts.

But let’s see in more detail the social conflicts of February of this year according to Unir’s excellent work. 97 stoppages or strikes, 28 per cent is located in La Paz, Cochabamba has recorded 14 percent, Santa Cruz and Tarija placed with 13 percent. If we look at the fields of conflict, 42 per cent are of an institutional nature, i.e. that they rebel against any act or decision of the Government. Conflicts linked to economic issues reached 46 per cent.

Historical data comes from the work “38 years of social conflicts in Bolivia”, by Roberto Laserna and Miguel Villarroel.

The latest information is from Unir’s reports on Conflictivity.

The stoppages and strikes are damaging to economic growth. The most well-known routes through which social conflicts affect the economic performance of a country are: 1) largest number of strikes, fewer days will be worked, which compromises the average productivity of the economy. (2) Strikes and blockades create a climate of macro-economic, political and social uncertainties that discourage investment. (3) Successful social demands capture state income, leaving fewer resources for public investment.

Social conflicts are part of a democratic society. It is not to deny them, but to create an institutional framework to help mediate the differences between the economic and social actors so that not all of them, end up in the streets. Some examples of institutions by organizational or instrumental character, we can mention: productive development councils involving workers, producers, businessmen and Government; economic pacts that result in multi-year budgets to establish agreed targets for inflation, wage increase, and goals for productivity, investment and employment; collective bargaining between workers and employers; networks of social protection in cases of crisis. The Government does not follow any of these options to manage conflict, still committed to confrontation and a grueling bilateral negotiation. Very few things have changed in the field of social conflicts, we continue registering more than one conflict per day 41 years ago.

We certainly need to revert this unfortunate, shameful and irresponsible behavior!

Published by Bolivian Thoughts

Senior managerial experience on sustainable development projects.

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