Eastern Professor Presents at Symposium on Bolivia

Eastern Political Science Professor Martin Mendoza-Botelho (center), accompanied by symposium hosts Professor of Latin American Studies Robert Albro (left) and Dean of Academic Affairs Núria Vilanova (right), both of American University.

Written by Anne Pappalardo

Willimantic, CT — Eastern Political Science Professor Martin Mendoza-Botelho was invited by a small group of panelists to discuss “Bolivia: Assessing the Contemporary Social and Political Landscape” at a public symposium at American University in Washington, DC, on March 5.

Presenters at the event addressed the significance of Bolivian President Evo Morales’ term in office and the MAS, Bolivia’s governing party under Morales. They also discussed the historical impact of the era, key policies and initiatives, and addressed challenges and controversies that promise to shape Bolivia’s present and future.

“Among other things, I commented on Bolivia’s Welfare State, including social policies such as education, healthcare and pensions, as well as how some recent changes will affect them, such as the reduction in price of key commodities, such as natural gas, that Bolivia exports,” said Mendoza-Botelho.

Since the beginning of his presidency in 2006, Morales has set an ambitious program of reform mainly aimed at incorporating long-standing social demands of indigenous and less privileged groups. Benefiting from the high prices of international commodities, the Bolivian government has been able to implement important reforms that have allowed the country to cut poverty by more than half, in addition to implementing important institutional changes such as the rewriting of the country’s Constitution.

“I hope this conference will foster an informed debate among experts that will eventually resonate among policymakers,” concluded Mendoza-Botelho. “In the recent past, the Morales administration has achieved impressive and positive social and economic changes that have benefited many sectors of the population, in particular indigenous groups that were historically marginalized.”

Mendoza-Botelho began his professional career with UNICEF and worked for several organizations including the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Organization of American States. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Cambridge, is a member of the Bolivian Studies Association and was editor-in-chief of the Bolivian Research Review journal. He became a faculty member at Eastern in 2013.