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Author`s name Michael Simpson

After the Turmoil, Bolivia's has New Cabinet without Politicians

The South American nation slowly returns to normality. Only 48 hour after taking office, Carlos Mesa, country's new head of State, appointed his collaborators
Ousted president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada escaped to the United States, critical of Washington for the crisis that left more than 80 dead.

Bolivia's new president, Carlos Mesa, named his new Cabinet during the weekend. Not one politician is among his close collaborators, in an attempt to calm down population's anger against traditional political parties. Mesa, is an independent journalist and historian, who was elected nation's vice president in 2002 elections, when ousted head of State Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada was voted to rule the country for four years.

After Sanchez de Lozada resignation and subsequent exile in the United States, calm returned to the streets of La Paz. However, opposition leaders threatened Mesa with more strikes and protests if their demands are not taking into account by the new president, who said at his inaugural speech that to continue with pro-market policy was "insane".

Some of the new ministers once were politicians with the leftist party called the Free Bolivia Movement, but most of the 15 ministers named by Carlos Mesa on Sunday are little known economists and intellectuals. Mesa created a new ministry called Ethnic Affairs to address the problems facing Bolivia's majority indigenous population, which will be led by an Indian from Eastern Bolivia.

Mesa, who took office Friday night after former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada fled to the United States, urged the new Cabinet ministers to watch every step. "The abyss is still close at hand, and any mistake, any lack of perspective, any stinginess can push us over that abyss,'' he said.

From his self-exile in the United States, Sanchez de Lozada accused Washington for his misfortune. He said he had asked US President George W. Bush for $150 million to balance his budget, but the Republican administration only sent him $10 million to fight coca leave growing. The US State Department supported Sanchez de Lozada, a US-educated businessman who spent 25 of his 73 years of existence in Chicago and spoke Spanish with an unmistakable English accent, until the last day of protests and clashes. The police and army crackdown left more than 80 killed.
 
There is expectation in Bolivia about Mesa's next steps. Observers believe his lack of political background could turn against him, as he lacks of strong support from the Congress and has no constituency. The opposition proved to have an extraordinary power to mobilize the masses and could turn against new authorities if they do not fulfill their demands. 

However, the opposition is not united. While Evo Morales, coca farmers head and leader of the leftist "Movement toward Socialism", tries to keep the political process within existing  institutions, more radicalized Indian leader Felipe Quispe agitates against any source of power delegated to political representatives. At the same time, the powerful Bolivian Trade Union Confederation has only conditionally given its support to Mesa.

Bolivia is South America's poorest country. Over 70% of the people live under poverty line, almost the same than in the times it was a Spanish colony. As well as in those times (1700's - 1800's), a European elite that is about 10% of the population controls the country, mostly populated by indigenous farmers.

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