April 30, 2009

The Electoral Season II

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The electoral season has already started in Bolivia. The general elections of December this year will be, yet again, one more important electoral event Bolivia will have to pass on its way to more stability. The clock has started to run and the different political groups are organizing themselves. One thing is certain, Evo Morales and Alvaro Garcia from MAS will run for re-election. What is left to be sorted out are the different opponents MAS will have.

In that respect, there are several interesting developments concerning MAS' support. Having into account that the last time MAS was up for vote in 2005, it got 54% of the vote. Even though this was a historic number, this time around, it doesn't seem as though MAS will reach anywhere near that far.

There were always rumors of rifts within the party. I've always heard rumors about differences between the so called "indigenous wing" in MAS and the "intellectual" win. The argument was that the objectives of the two were hardly reconcilable. In recent months those rifts have been brought to light. The most recent significant example of such rifts is Román Loayza's divorcing the party. He was, after all, the leader of the campesinos (CSUTCB) and founder of MAS, and thus a fundamental piece within the power structure of MAS. In the last few weeks, Loayza announced he will register a new political party and will run for election in December. This is the outcome of a long struggle within MAS between Loayza and Morales. Loayza left MAS complaining that Morales was surrounded by people who were taking advantage of the moment and had nothing to do with the indigenous movement MAS was. He especifically pointed at Walker San Miguel, Alfredo Rada and Juan Ramon Quintana. Loayza also said that he was told he was the "moral guardian" of the party and as such he would run for the presidency.

Since 2005, MAS lost valuable people in its ranks. Recently, the operative right hand of Morales, former YPFB director, Santos Ramirez, was thrown out of the party for corruption. He was caught receiving pay-offs from the state oil company's contractors. Also, MAS senators (Guido Guardia and Gerald Ortiz) declared themselves dissident and broke with the government's line. This resulted on MAS having 10 instead of 12 Senators and so losing influence in the Senate. In addition, former ideologue and founder of MAS as well, Filemon Escobar, also left MAS for disagreements with Morales. Lastly, a young cruceno woman, Adriana Gil, who had been credited with delivering significant support for Evo Morales in Santa Cruz, left the party because she felt the leadership did not recognized her efforts.

MAS has lost significant support since 2005. But, the biggest blow is the splitting of Román Loayza, who has a significant number of supporters among one of the largest groups within MAS, the peasants group.

Below, you see a picture of Adriana Gil, who is a very young (24 years old) political figure in Santa Cruz. She has recently said that she will support Romàn Loayza in his efforts to gain the presidency.

I was impressed by this young lady, in her courage to stand up for what she believes. She supported Morales in one of the most difficult regions to support someone like Morales. Yet, she helped him gain acceptance and, most importantly, votes in 2005. However, similarly disenchanted with what Morales is currently doing, she has left the party and is seeking now other ways to channel her energy and "political savvy". Just as an additional note in this post, is this the face of the future first elected woman President of Bolivia?

La Razón, Adriana Gil, Bottup, El Deber interview, El Deber attacks, El Deber cadidates 2004, Bolpress, Book on R Loayza, Ernesto Justiniano blog, La Prensa