Undermining Morales' Ideals

by Anne Grue Nielsen

Institution: Roskilde University
Year: 2015
Keywords: Bolivia; Morales; Mining; Indigenous
Record ID: 1121734
Full text PDF: http://rudar.ruc.dk/handle/1800/19206


This project investigates Bolivia’s possibilities of achieving economic growth through mining while simultaneously protecting the rights of the indigenous populations and the environment. Firstly, a discourse analysis maps the inherent contradictions of president Evo Morales and the Bolivian government’s rhetorical presentation of a holistic development model, which encompasses both an extractivist approach as well as an assertion of indigenous’ and natures’ rights, through the Andean ideology of Vivir bien. A theoretical framework of citizenship, community and inclusion is applied. This is followed by a paired-comparison analysis of two cases; the foreign and privately owned mining operation, San Cristóbal, and the state-owned project of lithium extraction. The concepts derived from the discourse analysis are applied to the two cases by using three analytical parameters; Contribution to economic development, Environmental impact, and Inclusion, consultation and indigenous rights. Conclusively, based on the case-analyses, the project discusses the inevitability of a trade-off between the necessity of economic development through mining and the protection of indigenous rights and the environment. A holistic and sustainable balance between the two ambitions is not reflected in the cases, but the national project of lithium extraction reflects a significantly better developmental prospect, than that of a foreign enclave mining activity.