Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Evo Morales' Master Stroke

While most people are still in a state of shock and awe, debating about the nationalization decree's reach and details before saying anything, only opposition party UN has noticed the political implications of this action.

Evo orchestrated the event carefully, so that pomp and circumstance would accompany the event. All newspapers called the day "historic" and all news programmes went on and on about how Bolivia made headlines all over the world -which are, incidentally, true. If we sum to this the banner reading "Nationalized. Property of Bolivians" and the flag beside it, things must have struck a chord with everybody who still believes in class struggle and the rich (foreigners) exploiting the poor, everybody who has to subsist in poverty and near poverty was given a hope that things would really change this time (nobody even considers that this change can be for worse), everybody who does not know the importance of private investment and everybody who does not have a clue of consequences and international relations. In Bolivia, that's the majority.

Whether he was just following Venezuelan instructions is irrelevant. For the common denominator among the people, Evo is a hero who gave the people back what was rightfully theirs. From now on, Evo is part of the popular imaginary as a champion of the poor. Things may swing fort and back, as Boz predicts, and the final details and reach may not be known for a long time, as opposition party Podemos and the oil companies have noted (read Guccio's point here). Yesterday, I talked with my parents in Bolivia and they told that some quarters are even saying that most points in Evo nationalization decree were aleady approved during Rodriguez Veltze's term and are, in fact, nothing new. The only new thing here is the spectacle, which indicates this is nothing but propaganda (please note I have not been able to confirm this point). For most people these will be just irrelevant details and they will not care about them. For them, energy is already Bolivian property and even if they don't get to see a penny, they feel better off.

It is also interesting to note that May Day was the day in which advertising for the constituent assembly was due to begin. While Podemos and UN probably started out with some annoying jingle on a couple of tv and the radio stations, Evo made international headlines. What can Podemos and UN say that will get them votes, when Evo shows them images of the confiscated oil/gas properties and tells them that he did in 3 months what "neo-liberal" politicians didn't do in 20 years and that he needs more support ? Evo has already won the Constituent Assembly, and by a landslide. Say goodbye to Bolivian democracy and hello to decades of Evo.

Update 1: Candiaman posts a comment on a previous post that would seem to confirm this hypothesis: "Today we (bolivians) have been targets of tv and radio spots saying "Bolivia is changing, Evo has stayed true to his word" then follows a basic naive explanation of the nationalization process."

Update 2: Candiaman reports more on the situation in Bolivia in this post. He writes that there are already three different tv and radio spots around: "Now we have 3 more variants of tv and radio spots, one showing a 3 step nationalization, another explaining the after/before using the 82%/18% ratio and the one i like to call Evo: a True Bolivian Hero".

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Blogger mcentellas said...

I think you're right. The fanfare may well push MAS into a Chavez-like victory at the polls, even if soon after the economic realities hit hard & it turns into a fiasco.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Alvaro Ruiz-Navajas said...

Yes. sadly, what happens now with the gas is irrelevant. MAS already captured the popular imaginary and whatever consequences this has, they will come after the elections for constituents. Even if one does not like Evo, one must recognize it was a brilliant move.

8:02 PM  

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