VNR: Bolivia - Bridging the Divide in Latin America (rushes)
With December 2005 elections, Bolivia's political landscape changed utterly. In his victory speech, Evo Morales, the country's first indigenous president, promised Bolivia's poor majority an end to the 'injustice, the discrimination, the marginalisation we have suffered historically'. 65% of Bolivia's 9.3 million population live below the poverty line and that can reach as high as 80% in rural areas. Many are becoming impatient with democracy because of the lack of economic results - recent polls indicate support for democracy across the continent is down from 61% to just 53%.
This report opens with a road blockade outside Cochabamba in central Bolivia. Protests, road blockades and unrest are common in Bolivia - unrest linked in many ways to the glaring economic and social inequalities felt in the country. The previous two presidents were deposed in three years.
The European Union (EU) is Bolivia's largest donor of grant aid and for the EU it's been important to fund not only development projects but also local initiatives that develop a sense of identity and an awareness that communities have rights. The EU is clear that to maintain democracy into the future, poverty must be reduced.