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Local Politics and the Resource Curse: Natural Resources, Interest Heterogeneity and Protest in Bolivia

  • Anaïd Flesken (a1) and Annegret Kuhn (a2)
Abstract

Studies of public contentious action in response to mineral resource extraction have rarely employed quantitative methods. In a highly disaggregated statistical analysis we examine local protest dynamics in Bolivia and argue for a political conditioning of the so-called resource curse. We find that mineral gas resources spark disputes over both extraction and rent redistribution at the local level, and that this relationship is especially pronounced where the population has highly heterogenous political values and interests. In contrast, where the population is relatively united in their political views, significantly fewer protests occur.

Cet article étudie les incidences de protestation locale dans le contexte de l'extraction des ressources minérales, jusqu'ici rarement examinées avec des méthodes quantitatives. Dans une analyse statistique très désagrégée, nous examinons la dynamique de protestation locale en Bolivie et plaideons pour un conditionnement politique de la malédiction des ressources. Nos résultats montrent que les ressources de gaz minéral suscitent des controverses sur l'extraction et la redistribution des rentes au niveau local, et que cette relation est particulièrement marquée lorsque la population a des valeurs et des intérêts politiques très hétérogènes. En revanche, lorsque la population est relativement unie dans ses opinions politiques, il y a beaucoup moins de protestations.

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*Corresponding author. Email: akuhn@politik.uni-kiel.de
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We very much thank the project team of “A dangerous liaison? Ethnicity, natural resources and civil conflict onset” at the GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, for making their protest event data available. We moreover thank Andrew Zammit-Mangion for assistance with the statistical analysis. Anaïd Flesken's work was partially supported by a postdoctoral research stipend granted by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation (AZ 40.14.0.006).

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