March 21, 2005

The Social Movement Machinery

MABB is a registered TM.

Once again Apoyo, a company which conducts surveys about Bolivia, has polled Bolivians all over the territory. The results of this poll can be seen on various news websites. Although, some reports differ from others.

However, I looked at many of this reports and took the most consistent. In the absence of the original report we would have to make with the nest best thing.

The numbers run like this:

Between 11 and 15 of March, the company polled 2.155 people. Of those, 654 were between the ages 18 y 24; 854 between 25 a 39 and 647 between 40 a 70. The cities in which the poll was conducted included La Paz, El Alto, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Sucre, Tarija, Oruro y Potosí. Additionally the rural towns of Guaqui in La Paz, Cliza in Cochabamba and Porongo in Santa Cruz were polled.

The results:

71% of the people polled said they approve of a harder stance of President Mesa against the demands and actions of the social movements. When asked what should the government do to deal with the demonstrators, 63% said the government should establish dialog and 29% wanted some kind of law punishing those who block streets and the leaders. 71% of the people asked though that the demonstrators and activists are directly responsible for the crisis of the country.

On the questions of the hydrocarbons law, 53% is in favor of Mesa's tax formula (18/32) and 29% is in favor of Evo's 50% royalties. Moreover, 66% of the people said they approved of President Mesa (down from 68% last poll) and 28% said they disapprove of Mesa. When this numbers are broken down by city they read as follows: In Oruro, 86% approve of Mesa; in Cochabamba 85%; in Tarija 84%; in La Paz 79%; in Sucre 76%; in El Alto 76%; in Potosí 70%; in Santa Cruz 44%. While in the rural towns of Guaqui (La Paz) 68% approve of Mesa and in Porongo (Santa Cruz) 33%.

All in all, very good approval numbers.

What does that tell us about the social movements and Evo and the MAS and all the other so called social leaders? Well, I think this gives us a pretty good picture that, one, there is a silent majority and this majority does not unconditionally support all what these "movements" are doing. In fact, if we take the above numbers at face value, we can conclude that al least 71% of the people blame social activist, such as Mamani or De la Cruz or Evo for Bolivia's crisis. Two, the same silent majority does have significant support for what Carlos Diego Mesa is doing. Three, what is not ready to see in the numbers, but one can safely conclude with a little bit of logic, is that those social movements, with a relative small number of supporters, can practically shut down the country. Consequently, I think they have an efficient and highly organized group machine which works wonderfully when the top leaders send orders down the line. Moreover, it works even more beautifully when the different social groups coordinate their actions. By now, they already know the effects of launching an attack in masse.

We also know. They can bring the country and its president to his/its knees!