Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Fidel Castro, Bolivian President

An article titled Argentina no es Bolivia? shows the worrying results of a survey conducted in July 2005. The topic of the survey is simple: if you could vote for these Latin American leaders to become Bolivian presidents, who would you choose? It seems that the voters' preferences lie with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, in both Argentina and Bolivia.

In Bolivia, Castro obtains the first place with 21% of the preference. This is the same preference that allowed Sanchez de Lozada to win the presidency in 2002. The runner-up is Hugo Chavez, with 19%. Thus, the Castro-Chavez axis gains a 40% voter preference.

The article ventures two explanations for the support to Castro. First, positive association with Che Guevara. Second, Castro's defiance to the US. While the first seems weak, the second explanation, combined with the inflammatory rhetoric that has been Morales' trademark for the last few years, may be more accurate. According to Morales, the "neo-liberal" system is the culprit for all of the world woes, so it is not impossible to picture people yearning for radical change.

The article explains the support to Chavez with his anti-neo-liberal position. Morales' influence is also notorious here.

Another possible reason why these two leaders would be the most voted may be their media exposure. Fidel Castro has been the cuban dictator for eons and is well known in all the region. In the case of Chavez, he has appeared often in the press for the last 8 years. Both leaders have also visited Bolivia and staged popular appearances. So, some respondents may have chosen these options just because they did not know the rest.

However, instead of looking for explanations, let's take a look to two important implications. A first implication is the election of two leaders openly opposed to democracy, human rights and economic development. Bolivian political system has been severely weakened in the past few years and the last thing we need is supporting authoritarian practices. Also, being the poorest country in the region, we don't need anachronistic ideologies to bring us back to the 1800s.

A second implication is how this translates into Bolivian politics. Support for either Castro or Chavez tranlates into support for Morales. Morales is already first in voter preference surveys. This means either one of two things: First, he wins the elections, but is not elected president in the congress, in which case he will take the street and paralyze Bolivia ance again (if he were to lose the elections, he will also be quick to yell "fraud" and take the streets). Second, he wins the elections and becomes president, in which case he won't leave power for generations (remember: one of the main points of his government programme is drafting a new constitution), will make coca legal, effectively turning Bolivia into a pariah narco-state and destabilize the region.

So, it seems that the wishes of those who want bakcwardness are about to be granted.




2 Comments:

Anonymous Bolivian Worldtrekker said...

Without recognizing the author's or the article's merits, I wonder if it is appropriate to draw conclusions from a poll for which we don't know many things, for instance:
- The total number of respondents.
- The number of interviewees who refused to answer.
- Whether there was an option for "None of the above", and its percentage.
- The reason for the exclusion of Argentina’s or Bolivia’s presidents. (I can imagine a couple, but that is not the same as the rationale used by the author.)

The author also reports that the poll was conducted by naming each individual president (it was not a multiple choice nor an open question). This is al least questionable if not invalidating.

Don’t get me wrong, I share many of your thoughts, I just want to say that you need not be that pessimistic. Besides, one particular characteristic of Bolivian polls (maybe attributable to the people) is that they are usually lousy predictors.

Alvicho, I just wish you would write in Spanish; after all, you were born in Bolivia and Spanish is your first language. Moreover, you probably won't change the views (if that's the objective of your blog) of those who read English. If we want to make a difference in Bolivia, we won't make it unless we directly address the people IN Bolivia.

11:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i hate evo. HE CANT EVEN READ OR WRITE AND HE IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNTRY I MEAN COME ON PEOPLE HOW STUPID CAN YOU GET? HE DOESNT HAVE THE CAPACITY TO THINK.
EVERYDAY HUNDREDS OF BOLIVIANS TAKE A PLANE ALL THE WAY TO EUROPE OR SOME PLACE, THEY PREFER TO RISK THEIR LIVES IN A COUNTRY THEY HAVE NEVER HEARD OF THEN STAY IN THERE HOME COUNTRY. THIS PEOPLE THAT ARE LEAVING ARE PEOPLE THAT HAVE NEVER SEEN A PLANE BEFORE IN THERE LIVES AND THEY ARE DOING THIS. JUST BY THIS YOU CAN SEE THE LOVE THAT BOLIVIANS HAVE TO EVO. HE IS NOT DIGNIFIED TO BE CALLED THE PRESIDENT , IF HE KNOWS WHAT THE WORD MEANS.
but offcourse there is always people that close there minds and blame the sufferment of bolivian indians -that happened centruies ago and has never happened again- to the democratic government.
well i gues you can see what i mean

1:53 AM  

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