March 09, 2005

Ramblings About Bolivia: Aftermath

MABB is a registered TM.

In the aftermath of all this chaos, we can see, read and hear that Mesa is staying as president of Bolivia. But, the big question is not, weather Bolivia is now in a better position, no! The question is what comes next?

As we all could, lip-bitingly (I just invented this term) observe, the outcome came down to practically the entire congress (MNR, MIR, UCS, ADN, NFR and son on) backing up Mesa's return (rather stay in) to power. Except of course, Evo's MAS and El Mallku's MIP. The entire Bolivian political espectrum signed a deal, known now as "Acuerdo ante la Nacion" (Accord before the nation) to basically follow four specific points: 1) to pass a "sensible" Hydrocarbons Law that helps Bolivia to industrialize and bring more equality into society. 2) to facilitate the path to the referendum on autonomy (much desired by the cruceƱo elite). 3) to clear the way towards the elections of Prefects. and 4) to make the Constituent Assembly a reality, expressly, to found a new republic.

However, the significance of this "accord" is very small in light of who is missing. On the one side, the signatory parties do not form a cohesive block. Like I said, they spread all over the political spectrum. Some of them are in a deep identity crisis, like the MNR (Nationalist Revolutionary Movement). This party currently has four different currents who want to take the lead and take the party forwards. The current leadership is closely aligned with Goni Sanchez de Lozada (who is currently fighting against being taken to court for his role in the October events of 2003). The other currents just want to get over Goni and establish their own ideology. The MIR (Movement for the Revolutionary Left) is also in a crisis. Even though, the leader, Jaime Paz Zamora, has just come out of a challenge to his leadership, there is still the issue of little support around the nation to deal with. These two parties are not walking in solid ground and have to be careful on what they say and do, otherwise they will keep loosing supporters.

Most of the traditional political currents (parties) are discredited before the Bolivian population. Not long ago there was a report saying that the view towards these parties was very low amongst the population. This is because these parties were seen as corrupt and inept.

On the other side, the fact that MAS and Evo, together with MIP, have a respectable lead in the polls (specially within indigenous people) speaks volumes for them. They are present in every corner of Bolivia, at least that's what last December municipal elections showed. Present in the Banco Central meeting, they walked away from the negotiating table, because Mesa was insistent in passing a Hydrocabons Law that preserved the 18/32 formula. This means that troubled times are still ahead. In fact, there are reports now that this new pact between the government and the traditional Bolivian political parties resembles too closely, and eerily, to the mega coalition backing Goni Sanchez de Lozada before his departure from government in 2003. You can be sure the "movements" are well aware of this.

According to further reports, the negotiations held in the Bolivian Central Bank building, started with full attendance from all the heads of the factions represented in the congress. At times, reports say, the delegations of MAS and MIP felt that Mesa was too aggressive arguing for a "viable" hydrocarbons law. Too aggressive in the eyes of these two parties who want 50% royalties on the production and export of liquid gas. So aggressive that they came to the conclusion that Mesa was on the side of what they like to call the transnational corporations. So, as good defenders of Bolivia, they withdrew from the negotiations table and vowed to continue their blockades and demonstrations (a.k.a. struggle) to recuperate, what they deemed lost Bolivian resources, in the name of all Bolivians.

A few rumors about Evo Morales. I have been reading in various news sources and blogs that Evo is a bit too close to Hugo Chavez. The fact that Evo does not want to understand the reality of Bolivia is connected to his ambition to become, one day, president of the "Bolivarian Republic of Bolivia", if Chavez has his way. It is very clear by now that Chavez has all the intentions of backing up Evo to become the next president of Bolivia. For one, what better event than the country who is named after Simon Bolivar (the liberator of South America) to become the first country to join his "Bolivarian" dream of creating a united South America. Secondly, Chavez, as the petroleum country in Latin America, has the resources ($$$$) to back Evo's presidency. And finally, Bolivia is the perfect country to dump all of Chavez's populist rhetoric, because Bolivia is so divided by racial resentment and a void for ideology, that Chavez's ideology would just fulfill the wishes of all the people in Bolivia. At least that is what Chavez is thinking.

Now a few rumors about Mesa. We all have seen his incapacity to govern, but we just have to give him kudos on his performance on TV. His speech was a masterpiece in the sense that he could relate directly to the people and was thus able to draw immediately support as a result of it. Let's not forget, he owns the TV channel PAT and he's real career was as news anchor of a news program. He really knows how to take advantage of TV waves and how to relate to people through the screen. Therefore he was able to say a few things to people that other politicians would not have said, in his place. This, I attribute, also to his relative naivete as a politician. If you ask me, I would say that Mesa is not a real politician. I would be willing to bet he regrets every day he is in power. But, as the Germans say, experience makes the master.

In the end, what do we have? For the reader who is seeking conclusions rather than complex explanations of what happened, I can say that the result of all this mess is: CONTINUED UNCERTAINTY. The fact that Mesa was re-confirmed as president gives a certain "dictarorial" facet on his presidency. One could say that he is unchallenged now and will rule as he pleases. Some people would call this "Fujimorismo". If you know what I mean. However, since Evo and his party (MAS) are not subscribers to this "national pact", that means that trouble is still ahead. Granted that Evo's strength has diminished somewhat, one cannot with certainty say that the indigenous people will not obey his orders anymore. Moreover, news reports say that the three most powerful indigenous leaders have just closed a pact. Evo Morales, leader of the coca growers' union and leader of the Movement Towards Socialism, Abel Mamani, leader of the Neighborhood Associacions of El Alto and R. Solares, leader of the Workers' Union have closed a deal to keep the pressure on the government to force a Hydrocarbons Law that asks for 50% royalties from the private companies and demands the expulsion of Aguas del Illimani from El Alto immediately.

How about that? Trouble is just starting................................