NATIONAL

Bolivia marks independence, investment opportunities

By Joel Lee
  • Published : Aug 7, 2017 - 19:53
  • Updated : Aug 7, 2017 - 19:53
The Bolivian Embassy marked the 192nd anniversary of the country’s independence last week, also highlighting trade and investment opportunities in the quickly growing Latin American economy.

Bolivia gained liberty from Spain on Aug. 6, 1825, ending colonial rule that had begun in the 16th century. Relentless guerilla fighting from 1809 -- led by Venezuelan general and politician Simon Bolivar and his compatriot Antonio Jose de Sucre, a freedom fighter and later the country’s second president -- led to Bolivia’s sovereignty, as well as that of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Panama.

The name Bolivia comes from Bolivar, and its constitutional capital Sucre owes its name to the founding father.

“Today Bolivia continues its successful political, economic and social process, which for the last 11 years has led to an annual economic growth of nearly 5 percent,” said Luis Pablo Ossio Bustillos, charge d’affaires ad interim of the diplomatic mission. “The government of President Evo Morales, who has an indigenous background, has given our country its greatest stability. With more than a decade of service to our people, the poverty rate in our country has been reduced by more than twofold.”

Bolivia today is a “dignified and sovereign” nation, Bustillos said, noting indigenous people, women, the elderly and sexual minorities enjoy rights under one of the world’s most progressive and advanced constitutions.

Bolivia’s main industries are agriculture, forestry, fishing, refined petroleum and manufacturing of textiles, clothing and refined metals. The country has a wealth of minerals, particularly tin. Amid an economic boom, Bolivia is making efforts to enhance physical linkages -- encompassing roads, bridges, railroads, airports and hydroelectric power plants -- across its vast territory in the heart of South America.

Economic ties between Bolivia and Korea, which established their diplomatic relations in 1965, have grown at a healthy rate.

Samsung Engineering built a petrochemical fertilizer plant producing urea and ammonia in Cochabamba; Hyundai Development constructed the Banegas Bridge, the longest of its kind in the world at 1,440 meters, in the eastern part; and LG International and Posco Daewoo are considering investing in Bolivia’s lithium, gas and other mineral and natural resources.

The Korea Land and Housing Corp. is undertaking residential construction projects in Santa Cruz, while the Korea International Cooperation Agency has provided technical services and run knowledge-sharing programs.

Some 13,000 Koreans traveled to Bolivia last year, lured by the country’s attractive landscapes, including Lake Titicaca and Uyuni Salt Desert.

By Joel Lee (joel@heraldcorp.com)