Although most of the world's attention seems to be focused elsewhere, the recent political uprest in Bolivia culminated in the resignation of the president, Carlos Mesa, two days ago. Some suggest that it may be part of a larger trend toward liberalization in South America.

"The bottom line is that Latin America is in open rebellion of the economic policies of the Washington Consensus," said Jim Shultz, director of the Democracy Center, a group in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba that is critical of free market reforms in the country. "Sometimes it happens in the ballot box. Sometimes it happens on the street, like in Bolivia. It is in essence the same rebellion."

Jim Shultz has a blog over at the Democracy Center, with several interesting posts, including one last week about various Bolivian rumors.

Another idea in the New York Times article that I found interesting was the suggestion by both liberal and conservative forces that victory by the other side would lead to dictatorship. Vaca Diez, the current President of the Senate and the successor to the presidency now that Mesa has resigned, had this to say:

"The radicalism of the left leads to totalitarian governments," he said. Mr. Vaca Diez said if radical groups "push for confrontation and a blood bath this will always end in authoritarianism."

Meanwhile, Mr. Diez' suggestions that the military be used to suppress protests has concerned liberal leaders. As a result, both Diez and Mario Cossio, who is second-in-line to the presidency, do not have significant public support. The Bolivian turmoil is most likely to end peacefully if both Diez and Cossio resign the presidency, giving it to the head of the Bolivian Supreme Court, Eduardo Rodriguez, a move which would require new elections in August. Since if Diez remains in power, he will serve for the next two years, his resignation (and that of Cossio's) would be the most democratic move.