An Editorial from El Diario:
It is necessary to restore the production of wheat
Until the year 1952, year of the “national revolution”, the production of wheat in the country decreased dramatically. There were two main reasons for this: those people normally devoted to the work of agriculture, farmers decided to “reorganize” according to principles set out by the Government of the MNR and the jilacatas, mallkus and amautas, with other indigenous authorities became Union leaders; this new leadership structure ended in new imposed standards while forgetting ancient customs and ways of life.
Another reason was that the Public Law 480 of the United States, as a consequence of the Alliance for the Progress of President John F. Kennedy, law that made possible that surplus wheat and even purchases, be donated by the U.S. government to third world countries, and Bolivia received precise quotas with the “condition of selling them at low prices and whose money would be earmarked for development work”. But the MNR Government sold the wheat with very low prices – below the current for domestic production – and, as a result, producers stopped planting wheat due to depressed prices. While financial results from the sale of the help vanished. [From the 80s onward, PL-480, Titles II and III, served as counterpart funding for USAID funded projects]
The lack of the Government’s vision and enthusiasms that they lived by the American aid, plotted against the production of wheat, when the ideal was to encourage crops and increase production, both in order to cater to the domestic market to achieve important “stocks” for export; but, above all, to remove the country’s dependency of the supplies of wheat and flour.
The departments of Cochabamba, La Paz, Oruro, Potosí, Tarija, Chuquisaca and Santa Cruz were producers of wheat; but the “revolutionary” provisions to consume the donated wheat were most important. Over the years, it was agreed on the urgency of restoring the production of wheat and other grains; but the neglect and let be of the peasants, prevented our return to be a wheat country.
The current Government decided to completely cool off the relations with the United States, describing it as the Empire; both countries withdrew their ambassadors and relations stalled; however, when we need we return the eyes to the power of the North, and so it happened, in the past weeks the MAS regime decided “to buy wheat from the United States and Argentina to provide bread to the people”.
As time passes, we see more the futility of the demagogic poses; what is needed is to create incentives and restore production of wheat to count with the necessary flour; failure to do so implies to remain dependent on aid or emergency “shopping”, as it has happened in recent days.