August 26, 2005

Is the Garcia Linera Project Stumbling?

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There is no other way to put it, Bolivian politics are never dull. A while ago I posted two articles here and here. They talked about how the electoral campaigns were taking shape. On the one side we had what I called the Tuto quiroga project, which more or less was organizing the right side of the political spectrum. And on the opposite side there was what I called the Garcia Linera project, which was more or less organizing the left side. I also said that there was still plenty of time until December 4th. At present time it seems the Tuto project is still taking shape and it might be getting in even better shape. It is slowly adding alliances and support.

What surprises me is what is going on on the left side of the spectrum. Contrary to what it seemed, it looks like the Garcia Linera project, which by now is the Evo/Garcia Linera project, is stumbling. According to news reports, there are difficulties emerging among all the possible allies and supporters. These divisions concentrate mainly on the division of the pie. At least one thing is clear though, an alliance with Plan Progreso (PP), led by El Alto Mayor Jose Luis Paredes, is out. The two parties (MAS and PP) tried to form an alliance, but Paredes was expecting the nomination for Vice-president, which obviously did not get. There was also the posibility of an alliance with Rene Joaquino's Frente Amplio (FA). However, this posibility did not materialize because Joaquino did not get the Vice-president candidacy either.

MAS decided in turn to play it all on the civic organizations. In recent weeks there has been intense negotiations and more speculations about the two largest organizations in El Alto, FEJUVE and COR, to join MAS behind Garcia Linera. However, recent reports highlight the possible problems that might arise. On the one side, MAS and its leaders negotiated the alliance by offering seats in congress and the prefecture of La Paz to the leaders of FEJUVE and COR. For a while it looked as everything was said because the FEJUVE directed to all its member organizations to come up with nominations to be included in the list for parliamentarians. Abel Mamani, leader of FEJUVE could already taste the Prefect of La Paz candidacy. On the other side of the coin, as every thing looked as if it was coming together, many organizations member of MAS reacted by denouncing the political deals and started speaking against the allotment of the legislative seats. Apparently they too want a piece of the pie. As a result, it seems as though some cleavages are starting to become visible and the Evo/Garcia Linera project doesn't seem as close to completion as it once did.

Nevertheless, as I said earlier, all is not said yet. There is plenty of time until December 4th, which by the way, the government of President Rodriguez and the current legislature are keen on guaranteeing (unconstitutional or not).


mcentellas said...

In all fairness, the history of the Bolivian "left" in the past 20 years has been marked by the highest levels of clientelism, personalism, and corruption than in other parties. Just think of it in these terms: Who would you rather manage the national treasury? Tuto? Or Solares, Evo, Quispe, Linares, Escobar, or even Justiniano?

It's also what keeps the left from winning elections and/or being a legitimate pragmatic force in Bolivian politics. Too much ego and too little substance.

MB said...

I agree with you, but to be fair, I would also argue that the right has been dogged with the same maladies. In fact, clientilism, personalism and corruption is not just a Bolivian phenomenon. Latin American politics is almost "defined" by those two characteristics (for lack of a better word).

Who would I trust? I don't know whether I would trust Tuto. I know I am more than sceptical Evo would do a better job. As you say, all the talk about equality and social justice is important, but as far as having concrete and, let me say, viable policies to tackle Bolivia's problems, I have not heard any.

However, I am deeply troubled about the lack luster results of the 1990's policies of growth and development. I can really say one thing, those policies (Goni's, which really started under the Estensoro admin.) have wonderfully stabilized Bolivia's economic troubles. The problem is that socially they are dissappointing. Us economists are clueless about why that is. Well, let me not say clueless, because some people think they know why, but it's really troubling.

What I am trying to say with that is that I don't really trust Tuto with the finances either.

Lastly, I think I would brand the kind of left currently on the rise in Bolivia, populist socialism (I think I read it somewhere, I don't remember where though.) It is this left, without an ideology, that is not able to go beyond and broaden its support.