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impact on local farmers were reasons for the rejection of this project by many grass root organisations: -

But the PPP's success depends on indigenous Mexicans' willingness to abandon their rural homes and farms, something they may well refuse to do. Shortly after the PPP was officially presented, representatives of 131 organizations from southern Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador gathered in Tapachula, a city on the Chiapas-Guatemala border to develop a coordinated response. In a joint statement they said, "Given that any development plan must be the result of a democratic process and not an authoritarian one, we firmly reject the Plan Puebla-Panama .... We condemn all strategies geared toward the destruction of the national, peasant and popular economy, and/or food self-sufficiency." (Call 2002)

However, through 2005, PPP has continued to make progress, in part because of the real need to link energy production and electrical grids in the region, where electrical prices have begun to increase in the order of 5-20%, a real problem for poorer communities (NotiCen 2005; see further below)

Another example where indigenous groups have had a strong impact is Bolivia, where Evo Morales won elections in late 2005 with an absolute majority, in part on the basis of the votes of the poor and indigenous groups, but also because richer groups in the east of the country and middle class elements feel his rule may be less than corrupt than previous governments (Economist 2006). This has been interpreted as a move toward populist government, in part due to government problems that reached breaking point through 2002-2004: -

Since the resignation of President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada on 17 October 2003, Boliviahas entered a phase of populist government that is transforming the country's political landscape.

Civil society and the indigenous majority have, for the first time in Bolivia's history, found their political voice. . . .

. . . Bolivia is the poorest country in South America, with 10 per cent of the population owning 90 per cent of the country's wealth. It is profoundly divided between the minority white and mestizo (mixed race) population, which controls the majority of the country's resources, and the indigenous Indian majority, many of whom are homeless and live on less than US$2 a day. . . .

Sánchez de Lozada's second term in office, which began in September 2002, was a disaster for the country as a whole. At the election, he won only 22.46 per cent of the national vote but was re-elected as president following days of wheeling and dealing within Congress. He eventually took office with an approval rating of a mere nine per cent and, in February 2003, unveiled a new income tax that was widely interpreted as being anti-poor.

The tax lead to widespread riots in the streets of La Paz during which rioters were aided by large numbers of police who joined in an attack on the presidential palace. The military came to the defence of the state and, in the ensuing carnage, 31 people were killed and at least 100 seriously injured. When the president stood down the military, 24-hours of mob rule followed.

Lecture 12

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