March 17, 2005

Evo Can Already Taste the Presidency

MABB is a registered TM.

Yesterday was another busy day in Bolivia. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Deputies Chamber passed the controversial article 53 of the new energy law making the 18/32 formula the winner. As we knew, the 18/32 formula meant 18% royalties and 32% taxes on oil and natural gas resources. But, 18/32 is not equal 18/32, as we discover the details.

According to news reports, there was intense negotiations between the Congress and the Executive in the last few days. The sticky point was the wording of article 53. While the formula was not a problem anymore, because Cossio (the president of the Chamber of Deputies) agreed with Mesa, the nature and application of the royalties and taxes was the problem. For Mesa, 32% taxes meant that they were going to be deductible and gradual. As for Cossio it meant the taxes were going to be non-deductible and immediate. Judging by the reports, it looks like Cossio tried to slip his version after agreeing numerous times to back the president's version. A short time before the vote, Mesa and his Minister of Government, Galindo, discovered the change and decided to pull out of any agreement. It is then when Mesa decided to draft and propose a law calling for early national elections.

This is Evo's face at the time he was listening to the President's next move.

there are those who say, including me, this is another move by Mesa to remove stones from his path. He is playing to get re-elected. Nevertheless, one thing is for sure, Evo Morales did not receive the news in a bad way. Reports quote Evo and the MAS faction to agree with Mesa's decision and on top of it they are calling for the two people next in-line (Vaca Diez and Cossio) to excuse themselves from the office of the Presidency. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that Evo is also playing an all for nothing game. He wants to be the next President of Bolivia. I think, if elections were carried out, Evo would be left as the next contender with more possibilities, that is judging by his outcome on the last elections. Although, I have to say the latest assumption contradicts what Ciao! argues. He says that MAS does not have much support in the urban centers. His support is more in the rural areas. Therefore, he would not be as formidable opponent as some make him. Alas, he's got the data to back that up.

Anyway, either way this is looked at, this situation is turning out to be a showdown between Evo and Mesa. Who will end up on top, that is still to be determined. Rest assured that we will be on the look out.