September 30, 2005

President Evo Morales?

MABB © ®
Mr Evo Morales, leader of Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) and candidate to the presidency representing that political party, is behaving more and more like the future president of Bolivia.

For the first time since I knew Bolivia was going to hold general elections on December 4 I have had a serious, and I have to admit, chilling thought that Evo Morales was heading to win not just the presidential elections, but the necessary votes in parliament to become the next President of Bolivia. Sure, before I have asked myself if Evo really had chances. But, after closer examination of the process, I pretty much came to the conclusion that Morales was too extremist, out of touch with the middle class and not prepared for the presidency. However, in the last few weeks, and particularly after it became clear who would be seeking the presidency, Evo started to behave and speak more and more like as if he would be sure he'd be succeeding Rodriguez Velze.

With in the last month or so, Evo has changed his radical rhetoric. As of late, he has started to send signals that he would not be a populist and radical president who would expropriate the energy conglomerates operating in Bolivia. In fact, he has repeatedly observed that he wants to do business with the companies, but on his terms. He has also expressed clearly on what it might be called his first foreign policy stance. He will repeal the "zero Coca" policy by a policy of zero drugs. That way he has implicitly (more directly) taken out the US help on the war against drugs. Also he has clearly aligned with the Chavez and Castro regimes and this placed in direct confict with the US government.

The poll results are certainly having an effect on him. Because he has seen himself with the real possibility of winning the vote, he has had to modify his behavior and rhetoric. The polls have also served to strengthen his lead. People who might be undecided see these results as a confirmation that Morales is for real.

Finally, his small but significant recent tour through France and Spain has boosted his international presence and also helped make him look more presidentiable. Just for the fact that he was recieved by an official from the Spanish government, albeit an official way down in the hierachy, makes Evo look good. In Spain he has also talked with various political leaders of at least three political parties. I think he has met with leaders of the PSOE, PP, IU and other worker's unions. Additionally, according to some accounts, Morales had a very good welcoming in France. As reported by Eduardo of Barrio Flores, there was even a fund raising event organized.

Granted this does not mean that Evo Morales will be the next president of Bolivia, it means that his image in Bolivia and outside is being enhanced and thus prompting me to have such naughty thoughts. :-)

Note: Surprisingly there is not much coverage of Morales' visit to Spain by the Spanish newspapers. On the other hand, the coverage in the English media is moderate. A quick search by Yahoo or Google news should tourn up many articles.

BTW: Just wanted to pass on a link. Eduardo from Barrio Flores has been published in the Global Voices blog. Take a peek. Thanks to Eduardo for mentioning me.