In 2005-2006 I was part of the Democracy Center (the Center) team in Cochabamba, Bolivia, that investigated and documented the effects of economic globalization in Bolivia. My specific contribution was an on-going analysis of Bolivia’s oil and gas policy through a series of briefing papers, blog articles and reports published on the Center’s web site and other mediums. I collected data through document analysis of both primary and secondary sources, and together with a co-worker, conducted more than 30 interviews with policy analysts, academics, social movement leaders, and oil and gas industry experts. With these publications the Center aims to inform and shape the international debate surrounding Bolivia’s controversial oil and gas policy put forth in President Evo Morales’ May 1, 2006, ‘nationalization’ decree. One key finding of this analysis was how the Morales administration co-opted and redefined the term ‘nationalization’ to describe its current oil and gas policy in an effort to appeal to its domestic political base. A related finding concerned the significant gap between the actual policy that was quite moderate, and how it was represented as something far more radical in the international press. The paper also identifies important lessons on how to conduct policy research and advocacy in Bolivia, including the importance of recycling and interpreting for a foreign audience analysis and other published work already part of the public debate in Bolivia. In the area of policy advocacy, I discovered that the political and social transformation underway in Bolivia - symbolized by the election of Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales – is also beginning to open space for a wider range of advocacy tactics that have traditionally been limited to direct actions.


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