Latin America news briefs

March 7, 2015

Bolivia's fast growing economy fuelled by social spending

The Bolivian government said the Andean nation’s gross domestic product grew US$34 billion last year, establishing it as one of the fastest growing economies in the region, TeleSUR English said on February 17.

Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linera said that the country’s Social Community Productive Economic Model allowed for the economy to grow, despite a fall in prices for raw materials.

“In 1996 the Bolivian economy accounted for $5.3 billion and by 2005, $9.5 billion dollars,” Garcia said.

He explained that in the nine years from 1996 to 2005, the economy grew by 77%. But from 2006 to 2014, since the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) has been in power, the GDP grew by 357%.

MAS also oversaw an official name change for the country to the Plurinational State of Bolivia, to complement a change in national mindset towards recognising the dozens of indigenous nations in the country. Garcia said this shift in governance and national policy has helped the growth.

“What has happened in plurinational times? The average income for Bolivians went from $1035 to $3186, a rise of 307%. In neoliberal times, the average income of each Bolivian, grew just 11%. This is a successful economic model.”

In 1996, the country’s average income was only $930 and in 2005, the figure rose to just $1035 per year.

Garcia also noted the cut in poverty in the country under MAS, which official figures show has dropped from 34% to 18.7%.

Morales has served as Bolivia’s president since 2006 and implemented a series of economic and political policies that favour national growth and access to social services for all Bolivians.

Left wins in El Salvador

The left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) has won 86 of the 262 mayorships of El Salvador in March 1 elections, including the capital San Salvador, according to preliminary reports, TeleSUR English said on March 4.

The ruling FMLN also announced it won a legislative majority in the National Assembly and the Central American Parliament.

The FMLN said it would now govern areas covering more than 65% of the population, compared to 45% in the past.

FMLN Secretary-General Medardo Gonzalez told the Salvadoran people his party would continue efforts in favour of the more vulnerable sectors of society.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) is yet to release the official electoral results, but Gonzalez said the preliminary results were accepted by “practically all the parties”.

The TSE said it might take at least a week to finalise the election results. TSE president Julio Olivo said on March 4 that unidentified persons or groups had sabotaged the transmission of results.

“We are going to denounce this situation to the whole nation. Sabotage has been committed,” he said. “Sabotage has been carried out against the electoral counting system and we are going to prove it with conclusive evidence.”

The delay in the transmission of final election results has been linked to tactics by the largest right-wing party, ARENA, which has lost support from Salvadorans, mainly due to the US-imposed neoliberal policies it implemented in the past.

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