Bolivia has a deep history of international trading partnerships for the extraction of natural resources such as tin, zinc, and the mining of other materials. With the more recent incoming partnership of Chinese trade and foreign direct investment in Bolivia, authors Alejandra Lopez and Adam Quiroga attempt to examine how such relationship may enact devastating impacts to Bolivia’s diversity-rich environment from which local populations heavily rely on. Lopez and Quiroga do so by exploring Bolivia’s previous experience of instituted policies in place to protect against environmental degradation such as that of Mining Code and Mining Law of 535, while simultaneously investigating the prospect of Chinese trade in Bolivia’s economic standing based off of current and ongoing trade systems coming into fruition. Moreover, Lopez and Quiroga produce an argument utilizing a case study of the Bolivian region of Potosi, a region riddled with large numbers of people living well below the poverty line, and how the role of these dynamic trade systems inadvertently threaten their livelihood through water shortages and pollution.
This article is well-suited to readers that may not be so well-versed in the legal and economic history of Bolivia in regards to resource extraction. There is an in-depth background of Chinese investment and on the Bolivian economy that greatly contributes to the understanding of how the presence of Chinese trade is particularly significant to the socioeconomic conditions of the country. Similarly, the analysis provides charts and graphs along with an explanation of the current Bolivian Laws established for regulating mining for the environment, which also contributes to a deeper understanding of the intricate factors of how such policies and trade relationships were designed. Additionally, the concluding remarks for the article provide suggestions and recommendations for future policy making by the government which may be beneficial to the sustainability of Bolivian ecosystems and thus may be suitable for Bolivian policy professionals to read from as well.
For my own research, I’m particularly intrigued in rights that are sometimes referred to colloquially as “Green Rights” which pose the question of the right to the environment and indigenous rights that are perhaps not largely accepted by institutions of the nation-state. This article in particular aids in exemplifying how such rights may take a backseat to other interests of the state and therefore may be susceptible to abuse of these rights as the presence of mining and resource extraction lessens the quality of water necessary for basic living conditions. Furthermore, such analysis explores the dynamic tension that may be beneficial to society on the factor of economic growth, and how much economic growth is distributed amongst the masses. More precisely, for my research analyzing the relationship of the developing Chinese-Bolivian trade relationships show the complexity of maintaining conflicting rights for indigenous people and the environment that may not be blatantly expected if not analyzed further. Lastly, as resource-abundant Latin American countries make trade agreements, it is necessary to examine the effects that these agreements have at the small, localized scale of daily living.
Image of Bolivia Obtained from Google Photos: Depicts the environment of Bolivia attempted to be preserved for oil.