TRENDS: Power to the Left, Autonomy for the Right?


Professor Kent Eaton compares the autonomy movements of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and Guayas, Ecuador.

After several decades of neoliberal dominance, during which even left-leaning presidential candidates implemented or defended market reforms once in office, Latin America has entered a period of greater ideological conflict. In recent years, the scope of the debate between statist and market-oriented options has widened considerably, along with the introduction of more statist policies in such countries as Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. As during the 1930s and 1980s, this shift in national development models is producing important political struggles between ideological adversaries. Unlike these earlier periods, however, the contemporary shift toward statism at the national level appears to be generating considerable territorial conflict as well. In Bolivia and Ecuador, for example, leftist presidents Evo Morales and Rafael Correa face their most significant opposition not at the national level but in the subnational regions of the east (Bolivia) and west (Ecuador). More so than in the past, understanding the nature of the resurgent conflict over economic policy requires that we examine the conflicts that are unfolding between national and subnational actors.

Kent Eaton
Publication date: 
August 21, 2008
Publication type: 
Berkeley Review of Latin American Studies Article