Under the rule of Spanish colonialism for hundreds of years, Bolivia finally achieved its independence on August 6, 1825, thanks to Simon Bolivar, who’s name lives on through Bolivia’s. Bolivar’s success came after years of warfare and struggles by the natives to free themselves from the Spanish. While Bolivar’s efforts to unite all of South America under one government, independent of European influence, failed, his impact was quite substantial in Bolivia and other South American countries.
In the 19th century, Bolivia took part in the War of the Pacific, in which Chile essentially took Bolivia’s only coastal access, landlocking Bolivia.
Photo: Info Please
As a result, Bolivia has to pay its neighbors high tarriffs to import and export through its ports, making foreign trade especially expensive for Bolivia.
Once Bolivia had gained independence, it experienced very tumultuous internal political climates, marked by coupes and assassinations. In 189 years, Bolivia has witnessed 170 coupes, recurring assassinations, and over 100 presidents.
Bullet holes can be seen from one of the political coupes of the last century on this building across the plaza from the Presidential Palace.
What’s happening now?
Today, under the revolutionarily stable and progressive leadership of Evo Morales, the first indigenous President of Bolivia, and one of the presidents who has served longer than most, Bolivia is finally reducing political corruption and boosting its economy. The resource rich country has the potential to become much more prosperous than it has been, but continued political and economic stability are crucial.
As our tour guide said, “We’re resource rich but have ‘no bullet proof windows,’ and five teenage boys in costumes guarding presidential Palace.”
Beyond his political and economic efforts, Morales is rather popular among Bolivians for promoting indigenuos rights, passing anti-racism laws, increasing public health care, driving social projects, and promoting Bolivian sovreignty on the international scale (although he has had some international bloopers that other countries have ridiculed him for, like his statement that eating chicken can make one “gay and bald.”)
Bolivia’s future looks promising, and based on what its been through the last 500 years, I’d say it’s well deserved.