Saturday, June 03, 2006

Bolivian News Roundup: Land, Lies and Economic Policies

La Razon reports that the dialogue between the government and the Eastern landowners is broken. As no consensus could be agreed, Evo's administration has decided to go on an approve seven decrees in order to continue with his land reform.

In any case, it seems that the dialogue was nothing but an empty promise: The landowners found out that vice president Garcia Linera had announced that the decrees would be approved and land would be granted to the indigenous communities today, while the dialogue was still going on. So, they [the landowners] realized the futility of their actions and stopped the negotiation.

According to Confeagro (the Agro Confederation), it was useless to go with the government over the text of the decrees if they would not accept revisions. Also, they say that the decree is in direct contradiction with the current laws and constitution.

Once again, it seems that this may be the spark that ignites the fire.

Meanwhile, Evo will go to the Santa Cruz central bus station and start the 'agrarian revolution'. His 'revolution' is based on the following principles:
  • Redistribution: Evo will grant all available fiscal land to indigenous communities and original peoples with insufficient land or without land. All lands that does not fulfill a social and/or economic function will be expropriated.
  • Gender: The reorganization will give lands to social groups and productive associations, as well as entitle women to own the land.
  • Forestry: Forestal zones will be ignored. The decree approved by Mesa, that distinguished forestal zones from concession zones will be annuled.
  • INRA: It will require that workers working for the National Institute for Agrarian Reform (INRA) speak the native language of the region where they work.
  • Social control: It will improve access to land in three Santa Cruz municipalities
  • Annulment: It will annul Mesa's 28148 decree, which, as I understand, made certification of land less bureaucratic.
  • Value: It will serve to set the value of land
Evo and other MAS representatives said that they did not really care for reelection. They argued that reelection was an idea proposed by the organizations and social groups behind them. La Razon asked 11 social groups behind MAS whether they proposed the reelection of the president or not and 10 of them said they did not.

The ones that proposed reelection were the Colonists' Federation. From other 8 detailed answers in the article, two social groups were in favour of such a move, two were against it and 4 are undecided. Hardly what Evo and MAS told the people.

Economic Policies
La Razon reports a war currently under way between the entrepreneurs and Evo. The economic policies followed by the current government have not found support from the Bolivian entrepreneurs -and with good reason, I must add.

Seven federations of entrepreneurs got reunited on Thursday and it seems that they decided to make their concerns public by publishing a letter to Evo in all newspapers. The letter apparently asks for sound economic policies and questions Cuba's and Venezuela's interference in the country. Moreover, the president of the Private Entrepreneurs Confederation confirmed that they are seeking to change the wrong direction that policies are taking. He also expressed concern about the Executive ruling through decrees and getting too much power. Finally, he lamented that Evo is creating a poor image of Bolivia in the rest of the world.

Evo answered with another letter published in the newspapers. In typical populist fashion, the letter is full of demagoguery and never really answers the investors' concerns. Evo's letter rather scorns them and accuses them.

Evo's letter says that the 'democratic and cultural revolution' will not go even one step back. Then, he justifies everything he does with the 54% vote he got in the December elections and around 80% of current support. He then mentions several measures that should benefit 'honest and truly patriotic entrepreneurs'. He then accuses the private entrepreneurs of false nationalism, as they do not want the economy to go back to the hands of the state. Then, two questions ask the entrepreneurs why they did not react in previous administrations and to consider their role without political influence, before accusing them, once again, of supporting the multinational corporations that looted the country. Regarding Cuba and Venezuela, Evo defends the treaties with them and says that these pacts are not conditional on anything, as was the rule in the previous administrations. Finally, he also said that now everybody respects Bolivia.

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Anonymous galloglass said...

Alvaro: What do you foresee happening? Is secession now a real possibility? Evo isn't going to give in, and talks are a farce...everyone has laid their cards om the table...

7:29 PM  
Blogger Alvaro Ruiz-Navajas said...

Hi galloglass. I think it is difficult to foresee what is that will happen. The worst case scenario, of course, is civil war. A far more likely scenario, however, is for the governemnt to play chicken with the agribusiness sector without much else happening. The fact that the government has started the revolution by distributing fiscal property, while the agribusiness have confirmed the self-defense groups if something inteferes with thier property points to this possibility.
Also, this 'revolution' is probably nothing more than a political move designed to get support for the constituent assembly. So, Evo is not likely to risk armed conflict -it would be bad press. He will just redistribute a couple of hundred of has. with great spectacle, but I doubt that more will happen. Until the new constitution is in place, at least.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

3:06 AM  

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