March 16, 2005

Bolivian Crisis Goes On

MABB is a registered TM.

I have been trying to post this for about 8 hours, without success. Blogger and my site was inaccessible to me. Don't ask me why, as I don't know. I assume it is one of those notorious Blogger/Google problems that arise once every too often. It is serious enough to make me think about leaving Blogger for bigger and better things. So PLEASE Blogger, don't make me!

Now on to other things.

Just when we thought we had reached the climax of the Bolivian telenovela, the protagonists throw us into new suspense. Yesterday, President Mesa announced he is asking congress to call to general elections on August 28. This means Mr Mesa is raising his hands and giving up (or is he? more on that later). This new action by the president comes a week and days after he offered his resignation to congress. As we already know, congress later voted to keep him in office and ensure he serves to the end of his mandate in 2007. That would be to the interest of everybody, including Evo. The Congress and Mr Mesa closed a four point deal which was deemed "The Pact Before the Nation". The aim of this pact was to make Bolivia more governable.

However, Evo Morales and his party, Movement Towards Socialism, Mr Mesa's principal opponents, were not part of this pact. In fact, they disapproved of it and vowed to keep their pressure tactics (roadblocks) to force the executive and congress to pass a new energy law levying 50% royalties on international investors. Meanwhile, congress, with its typical attitude, moved slowly and in the end was not able to come up with an energy law that Mr Mesa could sign.

Mr Mesa found himself practically incapable of doing anything. The last draw was when the Attorney General and the nine District Attorneys told him that the road blockades were in fact "constitutional" and therefore legal. The president then saw no other alternative than to call to early elections.

nonetheless, this might not be a move solely out of frustrations. As my friend Barrio Flores accurately notes, if there is a favorable time to call on early elections for Mesa, that time is now. Let's see, Mesa is at the peak of his popularity (67% approval rating), he is widely seen as the victim (thanks mainly to his skills in front of the camera), the notoriously silent "silent majority" has spoken and have said they are fed up with the blockades, the traditional parties are at their lowest point in popularity and support and Mr Evo Morales is also at a low point in his popularity.

All this says this move could be beneficial for Mesa. Additionally, the elections are supposed, not only to elect new president and vice-president, but new congress too. In the case Mr Mesa is back in office, he would have a different field to play in, new executive, new congress and perhaps, less of Evo.

But wait, there is more. It so happens that the Mesa might not have acted according to the Bolivian Constitution when he asked the congress to call for early elections. Some constitutionalists have said his actions were not legal. But, Mr Mesa said, if congress does not call on to new elections, he is done with the job and will quit. This time for real.

So what now. Well, nothing........ we just wait until Congress decides either to call to early elections or rejects Mesa's proposal and thus prepares itself to find a new President. Perhaps Evo?