By Angela Cuenca Sempértegui
The Bolivian economy is traditionally based on the extraction and export of large volumes of unprocessed natural resources, and this type of economy is called 'extractivist'. Mining and hydrocarbons are the most representative economic activities of this type, but what is often forgotten is that it is a case of extraction and exportation of non-renewable resources, resources that we are losing and thi is far worse if the exportation of raw materials (minerals) is controlled by others.
98% of extractive mining industry is run by the private sector (cooperatives and transnational companies). Just 2% is run by the state, meaning that the state has not regained sovereignty over mineral resources. Bolivia is facing serious environmental problems and violation of collective rights that have impacted water supplies, polluted the soils, and effected the health and quality of life of the people that live in territories with mining activities. Mining code Nº 1777, which favours the miners economic interests – and was approved by the ex-president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, himself a mining businessman (COMSUR) - is still valid.