October 13, 2008

The Real Power of the Social Movements

MABB © ®

This guy, Fidel Surco, current president of the Conalcam (Coordinadora Nacional por el Cambio), might turn out to be one of the most powerful people in Bolivia. He presides over an organization which groups another 35 organizations or social movements, as they like to call themselves. These organizations are very active in the decision making process within and around the government. They have direct access to Morales and Garcia, as well as direct access to the executive via Hector Arce (Defense Minister) and Sacha Llorenti (Viceminister of Coordination with the Social Movements). In this capacity, the Conalcam takes part in cabinet meetings and Surco is no stranger in the Palacio Quemado (government palace), where he meets the President at least once a week.

The organization also has direct access to the governmental faction in Congress. There they coordinate with Senator Felix Rojas, Chair of the official faction and Deputy Cesar Navarro, in the lower chamber.

The clout of influence these organizations have over the Morales government is significant. The government itself says it doesn't take any decision without informing the social movements.

In addition, the Conalcam has influence in the public service because the majority of public posts were distributed among the 35 member organizations. This gives Conalcam tremendous operative power.

Finally, the real power is on the streets. The Conalcam has the power to bring people to the streets if the government doesn't do what they want.

The question is, how representative is this or as Toqueville and Mill put it, is this the tyranny of the majority?