Bolivia. The large trade union organization COB
(Confederación Obrera Boliviana) announced "war" against the
government for increased average salaries. The government
promised wage increases later in the year but at a much
lower inflation-related level than COB's requirements, which
were dismissed as unrealistic.
Countryaah, The Bolivia government was reformed during the year. One
of President Hugo Banzer's alliance parties, the populist
Condepa (Conciencia de Patria), weakened when founder Carlos
Palenques passed away in March 1997. Since then, the party
has been divided by internal quarrels and accusations of
nepotism, and its two members of government resigned during
the year. President Banzer took the opportunity to
strengthen his party's position (Acción Democrática
Nacionalista), but at the same time gave the finance
ministerial post to the third party in the alliance, MIR
(Movimiento de la Izquierda Revolucionaria). The alliance
lost the majority position in the House of Representatives,
but in general the government succeeded in its policy. Some
constitutional reforms were implemented, the external debt
decreased and the growth figure for the year was about 5%.
Only small progress was noted in the fight against coca
cultivation. The goal of eradicating it by 2002 seems
difficult to achieve - an ordinary farmer earns, for
example. only a third as much as a cocoa grower. In early
September, therefore, 1,000 coca farmers conducted a protest
march to La Paz.
The arrest of Chile's former dictator Augusto Pinochet in
London in November caused the opposition to demand an
investigation into Banzer's involvement in the so-called
Operation Condor (see Chile).