August 02, 2004

Thumbs Up for Mesa and His Government.

MABB is a registered TM.

Two of the major challenges for Bolivia, in my opinion, are corruption and education. The latter is essential to strengthen the core of Bolivia, its people. Education does not only give people the ability to read and write, so the people are able to function with in the system (filling out forms, reading the newspapers, making informed decisions, etc., etc., etc.). Education also helps to build character; it helps people grow as human beings; it opens people's minds and it is a way to raise ones standard of living by also making it possible to have more opportunities.

On the other hand, corruption is the opposite to education. Corruption is a malignant cancer which grows and grows inside the system until it spreads all throughout the country and stops its normal and healthy functioning. Corruption is a malady that has affected Bolivia for too long.

That is why I was enthusiastic when the government implemented its educational reform. But I am even more optimistic when I hear President Mesa speaking out against corruption and actually doing something about it. Never mind whether it is a good thing to do or not. That judgment will come on its own time. The single action of just doing something is encouraging, in a country that has not been doing enough.

On the evening of July 31, 2004 Mesa gave a bold step proclaiming his newest Decreto Supremo (D.S.) (Supreme Decree). On his speech in national television, which was carefully timed to be soon after parliamentary recess, Mesa surprised the nation presenting his newly proposed Hydrocarbons Law (energy policy) and his intention to fight corruption by designating 17 new officials in the Judicial Branch to posts which haven't been officially filled for close to a decade. This move puts pressure to Congress, which has the task of nominating and confirming such posts, but has not been able to do it due to internal divisions.

Mesa-aprobacion-popMesa took this action greatly encouraged by the referendum results of last July 18. According to a recent poll published by La Razon, Mesa and his entire government have a high approval rating, which translates into political strength based on support from the Bolivian population. This poll was conducted on the three major cities Cochabamba, Santa Cruz and La Paz (including El Alto). According to the poll, 46% of the people questioned are satisfied with the referendum results. Another 68% think President Mesa and his cabinet are doing a good job. That is an increase of 1% over the previous month. It is not much, but an increase is an increase. It is at least the right direction. About 80% of the people polled are optimistic that Bolivia will be able to export its Natural Gas. In this turbulent times, optimism is a good sign.

The next step will have to be taken by the Congress. They will have to consider the two proposals and debate over them. Although there are already indications from some members of the NFR and MNR that these proposals will meet opposition, the two proposals were received with relative acceptance by the different factions in Cogress. It still remains to be seen, what Evo and MAS will have to say about them.

The government is relatively strengthened and Mesa is showing Bolivians he means business. Lets hope these new steps will be an improvement and that corruption is on its way out of Bolivia.