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Global Totals: Bolivia Votes on States' Rights

Global Totals: Bolivia Votes on States' Rights

Exit polls are showing that Bolivia’s wealthiest province, Santa Cruz, voted to pass a measure yesterday that would grant them autonomy from the federal government. The federal government, lead by Evo Morales is calling this move “unconstitutional.”


Although a few hundred years and a couple of time zones separate the two, Bolivia is facing a heated smidge of the conundrum that Hamilton and Jefferson debated in the early years of the American republic: States' Rights versus Federal Government. The debate between the two sides in Bolivia was heated at best, violent at worst.

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The area of Santa Cruz, the most affluent in Bolivia, has the most to lose if the federal government decides to move forward and nationalize their gas and oil industry. Their solution is to make like Jefferson and grant themselves greater autonomy, including the right to select their own regional governor (currently the federal government appoints all regional governors). Santa Cruz is only one of five states in Bolivia voting on this statute. To see what the federal government is up to, read more.

The federal government’s plan since Morales was elected has been to nationalize the oil and gas industries siphoning more money to the central government and to break up large landholdings, most of which are owned by those in Santa Cruz. The federal government’s position is complicated — but they claim that with this revenue, they can further reinvest in the nation’s infrastructure and provide land to those who have none.

The Bolivian central government stands by their belief that no state should have the right to control what they believe are the nation’s resources for their own benefit while the states claim that they have the right to self-determination by their federal government. Sound familiar?

Should wealthy Bolivians get to declare autonomy? Or will the vote serve to codify economic inequity? Do you think the government will uphold its word to spend the cash on country improvements?

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