Thursday, April 06, 2006

The BBC on Latin America: Bolivia

Yesterday's BBC Newsnight report on Latin America was on Bolivia (watch it here, 50m. long; Bolivia's bit starts at the 13th minute). So far, this was the most informed of the bunch. While it did not give a comprehensive view of Evo's threat to democracy, Venezuela's interference or even the regional conflict, it was on the mark when it showed poverty as the root of the political vacuum that allowed Evo to gain power. Paul Mason also mentions that Bolivian political institutions are strong. I wonder what happened in the last five years, then...

The country's profile was interspersed with bits of an interview with Morales. In this interview, Morales talked about what you would expect: an international conspiracy against his government, for which there is no evidence as of now, the 'neoliberal' state tying his hands, race issues and, of course, the Constituent Assembly (CA). Interestingly enough, Evo was the first to admit that the CA is designed to give his administration more power. He uses a dangerous, hate-inducing rhetoric to make his point. Read the interview from where Morales' bit were obtained here (in Spanish). Reading the rest of the interview, where Morales says that the CA will have unlimited power, makes one wonder exactly when this interview took place. An article on BBC regarding this interview (in English).

Other interesting bit was an interview with Abram Delgado, a little-known representant of one of El Alto's social organizations. He said that El Alto didn't really care whether the president was Morales, that after the grace period (one or two years) they would bring him down if they perceived him as inefficient or not maintaning his electoral promises.

On the downside, the portrait of Santa Cruz was somewhat inaccurate. Santa Cruz was shown as a predominantly white region, where all of Bolivia's energetic resources could be found. It is important to remember that Santa Cruz is more than the city, for starters. In the Santa Cruz department, there is also widespread poverty and, racially speaking, whites are still the minority, regardless of what the former Miss Bolivia may have said. Also, one of the most important points regarding Santa Cruz's economic performance, as opposed to that of La Paz, is climate. Santa Cruz's soil is much more fertile and agriculture-friendly than the Altiplano. Regarding energetic resources, Santa Cruz does not have all of Bolivia's reserves. In fact, Tarija is becoming an increasingly important energetic hub. Some rumours even point to Northern La Paz as an oil-rich region.

I was also dissapointed not to hear more on the CA battle. Seeing how Evo is Chavez's pupil and how he said that he wants to gain power through it, I think that the repoert should have discussed it in more detail.

Paul Mason's blog from Bolivia can be found here.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW what do you think of dictator Hugo Banzer's rule during the seventies and nineties?

7:34 AM  
Blogger Alvaro Ruiz-Navajas said...

well, for one thing, I don't think you can put both of Banzer's mandates in the same category. You must remember that in the first mandate he was a dictator and in the second he was democratically elected.

Now, before going on, I must make clear that I am against all forms of authoritarianism, so I believe that the first mandate was a shameful affair. Economy did do well during this regime, but it had more to do with the international situation than with Banzer's policies. In fact, all Banzer did was getting cheap loans for overvalued projects, that in the end only ended up in Chito Valle's pocket. Just in case, Chito Valle is arguably the most corrupt politician ever to figure in Bolivian politics and is, surprise surpirse, related to Banzer. The guy's a real shame for the country.

In the 90s, Banzer was democratically elected (after winning the 1985 elections and coming second in the 1989 and 1993 ones). All he did this time was keeping things in place. In other words, he didn't do much. It was during his mandate that, becasue of crises in Brazil and Argentina, Bolivia's economy started its slow descent into the current chaos.

Bottomline: from an economic perspective, everything (good or bad) that happened during any of these regimes, had to do more with the international situation than with Banzer's policies.

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chito Valle is a disgrace to the human race

10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All Chito Valle does is hang around Rurrenabaque until he finds a young girl he could take to his pool and then take her and her friends to bed

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

once in a while he might and that's a very iffy "might" donate a wheelchair to the local hospital to make himself look good in front af the ladies of Rurre, but in the en all he is looking to do is to get them drunk at the local pubs and invite them over to his pool and to his giantic bed, what a pitiful "old man" is what the girls call him.

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is hard man

2:17 AM  

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