November 16, 2005

Revolution Through Elections

MABB © ®

Alvaro Garcia Linera and Evo Morales Aima, vice- and president candidates for MAS in the December 18 general elections in Bolivia, are leading what seems to be a revolution through elections. A revolution, because they pretend to radically change the nature of the Bolivian state. And, so far it is being done with in the framework of democratic principles, like elections.

There are four main objectives in the plans of MAS to re-make Bolivia. The first objective is to get to become government. So far, MAS is trying the democratic way. Morales and Garcia are participating in the general elections, where they have a good chance to win the popular vote. However, Morales and Garcia have been making very unsettling comments regarding their chances to win. Both, vice-president and president candidates seem to be using scare tactics to influence people to support them in the elections. They have been quoted calling their supporters (specially in El Alto and the aymara towns in El Altiplano where most of the demonstrators come from) to rise up to defend a MAS victory at the ballot boxes. Esentially, Garcia has called for an armed struggle to make sure MAS is government after the elections. Of course, later the comments are tamed by Garcia when asked about them by the press. But, the comments and the message is already given.

Since MAS is expecting a first place in the outcome, it is taking for granted that Morales and Garcia will become government. The threats are in case they come first place and through negotiation among the forces in Congress the second or third place winners are elected president. This situation is very common in Bolivian elections. In such case, one can expect trouble coming from MAS supporters.

The second objective, once MAS is in government, will be to re-invent a new country by convening to a Consituent Assembly as soon as possible. This assembly will become the single most important issue after the elections. I expect also, it will become the instrument of discord among the different regions in Bolivia. Simply because the idea of a nation state is so different among them. The widest differences are between the MAS and the Santa Cruz civics.

How will this new state will look like? are the third and fourth objectives. For one, MAS wants to detract completely from a free market economy or what they call a neo-liberal economy. So the basic law giving birth to the free market economy in Bolivia, the law number 21060 will for sure be scraped from the books. What kind of economy does MAS intends to place instead? I am not really sure. I have not seen any details on this topic. The fourth objective is the nationalization of the natural resources. I have also not seen details on this plan, but I have heard some comments. It seems that MAS would nationalize the resources but would stop short of confiscating private property from the big companies. It seems that MAS does realize it cannot isolate itself as a country. But, one thing I am sure, MAS is thinking of its frienship with Chavez and his petrodollars to give him an initial push. Also, MAS must be thinking about China becoming a more important player, since China wants to.

Whether or not MAS winns the elections, I would be willing to bet that it will make a serious attempt to become government. That is, even using force. If I were in Bolivia, I would be taking Morales and Garcia at their word. Since, as we have seen, these two individuals have a proven record of going at it by any means.