Saturday, March 18, 2006

Bolivia: Venezuela Revisited?

I think that by this stage, nobody can seriously argue that Venezuela's Constituent Assembly was nothing but a sham designed to increase Chavez's hold on power. Moreover, we also know that during these harsh times, the best thing the opposition could have done is unite against the common enemy rather than fight among themselves. The lack of coordination costed the Venezuelan opposition not just an election, but their democracy.

Well, news in Bolivia for the last couple of days seem to indicate that Bolivia is following Venezuela's footsteps in more than one way.

First, we have a president -Evo- trying to neutralize the opposition through legal means. Yesterday, he announced plans to try to cut state financing to registered political parties The argument is that this is part of the government's austerity plans (funny how Evo wants to double the minimum wage and does not think about austerity then). However, in the wake of a Constituent Assembly, this move is specifically designed to curb the opposition's chances of getting Constituents. Evo wants a clear majority in the Assembly in order to rubber stamp his hold in power (remember there are still Chavista advisors in Bolivia telling Evo what to do). The story is here.

Then, we have a weak opposition that is not able to unite. ADN has announced that they will participate on their own (rather than with Podemos) in the Elections for Constituents. Podemos has been left out in the cold and is now revising its strategy and renewing its alliances. According to this article, Podemos has to renew alliances with 80 different groups. What this means is that Podemos -the largest opposition group- will run in the Elections for Constituents with a heterogeneous (and therefore unconvincing) mass of candidates. Being such a heterogeneous mass means that even if they won enough seats, there is a risk the a group could break up from Podemos and pursue their own interests. In the end, it all just plays into Evo's wishes.

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