How the crisis in Bolivia benefits China and Russia

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The national census date paralyzes the South American country while Chinese mining companies advance and Russian ones work to finalize their businesses

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Humberto Vacaflor GanamFrom La Paz, Bolivia

How the crisis in Bolivia benefits China and Russia

Bolivian riot police remove some tires that were used to block streets in Santa Cruz (EFE/Juan Carlos Torrejón)

The date of the national census, the reason for the crisis that paralyzes Bolivia has not been defined since October 22, but in the meantime the Chinese mining companies have achieved a great victory and the Russians hope to get theirs.

The military High Command had to be changed when the police do dirty work for the ruling party, and President Luis Arcehe had to make hidden changes in his cabinet of ministers.

The stoppage of activities in Santa Cruz does not yield even before the advance of hordes of the ruling party , made up of coca growers and related groups protected by the police, and the protest tends to spread throughout the country.

In the midst of the crisis, President Luis Arce took time to meet a demand from the Chinese companies that exploit gold in the Amazon rivers, and set them the lowest tax applied to mining activity: only 4.8 %, while exports totaled 1,263 million dollars in 2020.

These companies imported 900 tons of dredgers last year and will now be able to enter , with government authorization to zones defined as “protected areas”, without the government having changed their name yet.

Carlos Romero, former Minister of government of Evo Morales, said on the program Agenda País, of channel PAT, that in the midst of this crisis, the country is not paying attention to the future of 40 deposits of “rare earths” that exist in Santa Cruz.

How the crisis in Bolivia benefits China and Russia

The paralysis of activities in Santa Cruz does not give way even in the face of the advance of hordes of the ruling party (EFE/Juan Carlos Torrejón)

Regarding these deposits, The Economist Intelligence Unit said in June of last year that, the day after the agreement for the sale of Russian vaccines against COVID to Bolivia was signed, a Russian official called the Arce government to tell him that that power has an interest in “rare earths” Bolivians.

Very early in the morning, on October 31, President Arce changed the military High Command with the argument that it is necessary to take care of the constitution and protect the legally constituted government.

A few hours before, the commander who was to be dismissed, General Augusto García Lara, had ordered the transfer of armored military vehicles to the city of Santa Cruz. An information leak revealed that the army commander would have asked García Lara for the order to be in writing and signed, given that several commanders are imprisoned for having obeyed orders in 2019, when Evo Morales resigned and left the country.

Morales supporters say the new commanders were involved in the events that preceded Morales's escape three years ago.

The repercussions came even to the cabinet of ministers of President Arce. The head of government, Eduardo del Castillo, has been disallowed by the Ministry of the Presidency to say whether or not the census can be done in 2023, as requested by Santa Cruz. This satisfies former President Morales, who asked several times for Del Castillo to be changed because he would be connected to the US DEA.

How the crisis in Bolivia benefits China and Russia

The date of the national census, the reason for the crisis that has paralyzed Bolivia since October 22, remains undefined (AIZAR RALDES/AFP)

But Morales now has other woes. He assures that with the new High Command of the Armed Forces the “black plan” against him is continuing, aimed at accusing him of having links with drug trafficking.

This concern has grown since he The former minister Arturo Murillo, of the government of Jeanine Áñez (2020), handed over to the United States justice, at the end of October, ample confidential information about those links of Morales.

With the department of Santa Cruz, a third of the country and origin of 70% of the food, paralyzed since October 22, the Bolivian crisis has no sign of a solution even when the government announces that a technical commission will define the date of the census in the Amazonian capital of Trinidad.

Arce has said that when that detail has been resolved, the time will have come for “the reconstruction of Santa Cruz”, a city besieged by hordes of government supporters escorted by the police.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has asked to investigate the acts of violence committed by the repressive forces besieging Santa Cruz.

< p class="paragraph">The problem is that the government decided to cut off the supply of gasoline and diesel to the city, and opposition deputies announce that they will go on a hunger strike if the government insists that the census be done in 2024.

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