Bolivia’s social movements divide roughly into two camps on the issue of how to effect structural reforms: those who advocate that the central government should play the leading role and those who insist that organized civil society must play that role.

The December 18 election will be the first since the September-October 2003 popular uprising that toppled the government of then-President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada and brought to the fore issues such as the nationalization of hydrocarbons and the call for a National Constituent Assembly. For the first time in this Andean country’s history where more than 60% of the population identifies itself as indigenous, an indigenous candidate could become president.

In the 2002 presidential elections, the U.S. ambassador, Manuel Rocha, directly intervened in the electoral campaign by saying that