Reelection is not an Official Position

Some of the social movements and other MAS congressmen have publicly come out in favor of changing the Constitution so that a president can be reelected for a consecutive term. However, advice Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linera and the offical MAS stance does not support this proposal.

Linera indicated that President Evo Morales is putting the final touches on the MAS proposal that will be presented on August 6, in which reelection is not part of it. Five years is enough for the current government to carry out the structural reforms.

“In the final document, which is being reviewed by the President, the proposal for reelection is not included and this has come out of the debate among the constituent candidates that took place three weeks ago,” said Garcia Linera.

Erosion of Democracy

Bush in Chicago

Q Thank you. Alana Foster (ph), Westport, Connecticut. Speaking of oil-producing countries that are not friendly to the United States right now, I’m very concerned about what’s going on in Venezuela and Bolivia and all, the coalition of Hugo Chavez. I wondered what your strategy was going to be, or what you’re working on in that respect.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I am going to continue to remind our hemisphere that respect for property rights and human rights is essential for all countries in order for there to be prosperity and peace. I’m going to remind our allies and friends in the neighborhood that the United States of America stands for justice; that when we see poverty, we care about it and we do something about it; that we care for good — we stand for good health care.

I’m going to remind our people that meddling in other elections is — to achieve a short-term objective is not in the interests of the neighborhood. I will continue to remind people that trade is the best way to help people be lifted from poverty; that we can spend money — and we do in the neighborhood — but the best way for there to be growth is to encourage commerce and trade and prosperity through the marketplace.

I want to remind people that the United States stands against corruption at all levels of government, that the United States is transparent. The United States expects the same from other countries in the neighborhood, and we’ll work toward them.

We’ll continue to work with forces like the Central — countries like the Central American countries, where we passed a free trade agreement called CAFTA, to remind the people in that area that relations with the United States will be beneficial to their people. There’s a lot of things we’re doing.

Thank you very much. I’m concerned — let me just put it bluntly — I’m concerned about the erosion of democracy in the countries you mentioned. (Applause.)

Why is Ms. Foster concerned about what is going on in Bolivia? Will it mean even higher gas prices for her van? Sure, blame Evo Morales for the $3.50/gallon price hanging on the local gas station sign. The poor oil companies, after record breaking profits, are the victim here.

Perhaps she is concerned about poverty in Bolivia and that could mean even more immigration from Bolivia.

I wonder if Bush was worried about the erosion of democracy when Goni took office and divvied up the government and had no accountability to the population. Is democracy considered eroded when only a select few get an opportunity to govern and corruption runs rampant? Bush makes it sound like Evo Morales had just undone a flawless democracy that politicians helped create the conditions for a MAS government.

Johnny Fernandez

Johnny Fernandez, sale former chief of Unidad Cívica Solidaridad (UCS), a political party which had not much success in recent elections, resurfaced with a bit of flare for the dramatic. Even though one of his half-million dollar country homes was auctioned off to pay back taxes, Fernandez laughed it off. Fernandez has been largely M.I.A. since his sixth-place presidential finish in 2002. (Photo: El Nuevo Dia)

After some of his posessions were auctioned off at the National Tax Service (SIN), Johnny Fernandez called a press conference at his house in the neighborhood of Las Palmas, where he denied that he was in bankruptcy, which was a rumor that circulated in political and economic circles. He even showed the press a suitcase with dollars that he received from the interest of his CDs (Certificates of Deposits) in the United States.

“It was only a problem of liquidity. I have more than ten million dollars in properties in Bolivia and I am not bankrupt. I also have property investments and CDs in other countries, but it’s difficult to withdraw. I am even thinking of a strong return to politics,” said Fernandez.

Peru Elections

I’m not going to attempt to give my opinion on the upcoming Peru elections, since it is not my country. Yes, the outcome will obviously affect Bolivia, but I’ll just sit back and watch. Tonight I had the opportunity to watch a portion of the Presidential debate between Ollanta Humala and Alan Garcia. To my surprise, Evo Morales’ name was brought up by Garcia, claiming Peru should not apply “Evo Morales-style politics” to that country, which was a reference to a possible Humala victory, who has been lazily compared to Morales. When was the last time that a Bolivian leader was such a topic of discussion in a neighboring country’s elections?

Brazilian Blog Reaction

The newest Global Voices Online contributor, treat José Murilo Junior will be responsible for the round-ups of the Brazilian blogs. His latest article deals with Brazilian blogger reaction of Evo Morales’ announcement of nationalization of the hydrocarbons. The blogger at Blog da Reeleição, advice and Lula supporter, check wrote:

“Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. A succession of neo-liberal governments handed out its natural resources to foreigners who promised to help the country bringing in money which would improve the quality of life in Bolivia, but that never happened. Bolivia turned out to be a ‘casa da mãe Joana’ and Petrobrás, during the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso, pissed with the bathroom door open and put its boots on the table. What Morales did was clean up his home. He is not sending Petrobrás away. He is just telling Petrobrás to close the door while pissing, and take the boots off the table.”

So Evo is telling Petrobras to mind its manners?

For Bolivia, For Once

My most cherished possession sits safely in a bank deposit box, store until I can figure out the proper way to display and protect it. A few years back, cheap I was given my late grandfather’s medal from the Chaco War. Shiny, colorful and authentic, the historic memento was given to those soldiers who fought in a dead-end war. As a result, even more territory was chipped away, as had been a common practice throughout the country’s history. In each of those instances, outside interests propelled those acts and without a doubt, the motivating factor for the conflict was the promise of natural resources in a vast, dry and lifeless land on the Bolivian and Paraguayan border. Fueled by the interests of oil companies, Bolivia sent tens of thousands of soldiers to their eventual death.

Regardless of the reasons and the questions hindsight may bring, my grandfather was extremely proud for having served his country. In his wallet, he still carried his lifetime railway pass given to veterans, even though that transportation service had ceased to operate during the capitalization process. During his last years on earth, he was adamant that he should be buried alongside his veteran brothers in the mausoleum specifically for veterans in the Cochabamba public cemetery.

Fast forward seventy years and this war and the service provided by these Bolivians are being invoked as a cause. Gas and oil was eventually discovered in the Gran Chaco area, yet the million dollar question is always, “if Bolivia’s so rich (in natural resources) why is it so poor?” Much of it has a lot to do with for so long, few Bolivian leaders put the interests of Bolivia first. When the nationalization announcement arrived, many analysts and journalists concentrated on how such a move would affect other countries’ interests. When has Bolivia’s interests been placed squarely in front?

No one can argue that businesses’ chief objective is to make as much money as possible for its shareholders. Record profits and a magical number of multiple times recuperation of investments cannot be tolerated when so many Bolivians still live in empty opportunities. I am not a socialist and am convinced that private enterprises are essential for economic growth and businesses must be encouraged and protected. It’s naïve to think that multi-national companies operate on a strict code of ethics (see: Enron). But to allow for such obscene amounts of profit and the placing of profits so far ahead of human lives, then the state has the right and obligation to protect its interests. Voters often cited that Evo Morales would be the only candidate who would put Bolivia first, even though his tactics and rhetoric may leave a lot to be desired.

Who can be surprised by the turn the country is undergoing? It’s the legacy of the war veterans, the millions of indigenous slaves that were exploited and died in the mines, a people who were considered sub-human, and an apartheid-like society that stimulates the current sentiment in the country. Outside interests all said that this was acceptable because someone somewhere might get rich. When will it be time for Bolivia to finally put Bolivia first?

The lavish in-your-face displays left a bad taste in the mouth of many that thought it unnecessary. Stenciled banners reading “Nationalized” and “Property of the State” was not made for people like me, who don’t know what it’s like to never achieve a small victory once in awhile. How is this any different than a more subtle reminder that Bolivia is property of everyone else, but itself? Creditors were in the business of allowing Bolivia to be indebted to the lending institutions so that it would have to sign ludicrous contracts and sign away its state patrimonies. I understand the concept of privatization and think we can learn a lot from how businesses operate, but there’s a big difference between the privatization of a service such as an airline and signing away natural resources, which belongs to everyone.

Yes, the newly constituted state oil company failed in the past. There was good reason to find another way to make it more efficient. Yes, because of the capitalization process, most of the natural gas reserves in discussion were found. However, Bolivia for once has an opportunity to become less dependent on foreign aid, which never comes without strings attached. It frustrates me to hear that this nationalization process was announced only to transform Bolivia to South Venezuela or to create a political slush fund. Again, there are real concerns that I hold regarding much of the recent events, such as allowing the Venezuelan oil company and Bolivia’s main rival to export gas to Brazil to audit its books, but in the end, I honestly believe that there is a sincere desire to serve the most marginalized and destitute people in Bolivia, those people who have never had any reason to hope for the better. And for once, Bolivia has a bargaining chip and can be a participant in its own destiny instead of being merely a bystander.