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Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

October 24, 2003

October 24, 2003

BOLIVIA:  A 'DANGEROUS' PATH FOR DEMOCRACY

 

KEY FINDINGS  

 

** Bolivia's unrest is a sign of "a highly unstable" situation affecting other Andean countries.

 

** Sanchez de Lozada's departure offers only temporary relief; Mesa's position is "precarious."

 

** Bolivia reflects the "latest failure" of the neoliberal model in Latin America.

 

** Regional media worry about the influence of indigenous rebellion and "radical nationalism."

 

MAJOR THEMES

 

A 'dangerous road' for democracy; South America still an 'area of instability'-- Latin papers agreed that Bolivia's resorting to illegal strikes and "sedition" to oust a democratically elected president "represents a dangerous weakening of the rule of law," and set a bad precedent in Latin America, especially in the Andes.  Writers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru held that countries like Bolivia are a "permanent challenge" to Latin American democracy, and fear Bolivia's instability could "undermine" foreign investment in the region.  Bolivian comment echoed regional concerns.  "The whole system of representative democracy," lamented La Paz's centrist La Razon, has "returned to the fragile times" open to dictatorships.

 

Mesa offers 'temporary relief'; threat of 'ideology of fury' remains--  Observers in Latin America as well as in Europe judged that Sanchez de Lozada's resignation does not mean the end of the crisis, and many doubted the "inexperienced" President Mesa will last.  Capturing the prevailing skepticism, Brazil's independent Jornal da Tarde reasoned that although the apparent "honeymoon" between the provisional government and the population may have eased the "atmosphere of mutiny," it will not resolve the institutional crisis that has made Bolivia a "permanent breeding ground for military coups."  Bolivians will soon realize, Russia's reformist Kommersant added, that "driving Sanchez de Losada out does not make their life any better."

 

Bolivia suffering from the 'collective malady': the 1990's neoliberal 'hangover'-- Columnists attributed Bolivia's crisis to the failure "once again" of neoliberal measures applied to Latin America which had created, as a Venezuelan editorial noted, an "Andean Apartheid" with "alarming social exclusion."  The "real problem," Peru's top circulation El Correo insisted, is that the "pent up frustrations of the millions of have nots" have created "fertile ground for reactionary demagogues."  Furthermore, noted a conservative Paraguayan outlet, Sanchez de Lozada--a "very loyal representative" of the neoliberal model--governed "to satisfy Washington."

 

A 'well-planned strategy' by indigenous leaders, Latin left-- Conservative and independent press in Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Peru and Venezuela accused Bolivia's indigenous leaders of fomenting "radicalized nationalism."  Warning of links between Bolivian opposition figure Evo Morales and President Chavez, independent Venezuelan media claimed Bolivia was at the beginning of an indigenous revolution that leaders like Chavez "dream about."  Applauding the "Bolivian rebellion," Venezuela's pro-government Diaro VEA rejoined that "if it develops, as we hope so...its consequences will be a cataclysm for the traditional...powers" in Latin America.

 

EDITOR: Irene Marr

 

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 41 reports from 11 countries, Oct. 15-23.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.

 

WESTERN HEMISPHERE

 

BOLIVIA:  "A Challenge For Everyone"

 

A comment in Cochabamba's conservative Los Tiempos held (Internet version10/22):   "We, the Bolivian people, have the rare opportunity, as we have seldom had in our hectic republican life, to play an active role in our future.   We will actively rather than passively...play that role and that makes this period unique.  In other words, we will not play a passive role, moved by forces beyond our will and understanding, but rather an active role, aware of the importance, consequence, and sense of each of our acts and omissions....  It is the fact that today we have a president who simultaneously possesses the best qualities that can be expected from a leader of the people in such difficult times, and at the same time almost completely lacks the means necessary to fulfill his titanic task.  It is a president who reaches power practically alone, and his only possible source of support comes from society as a whole....   We are rapidly approaching a point on the road where there are two possibilities. Which of the two Bolivians will prevail will probably be decided through a referendum, but also through a clash of forces that already takes place every day in all fields.

 

"One of these paths, proposed by such political forces as the MAS [Movement Toward Socialism], the MIP [Pachakuti Indigenous Movement], and their appendages embedded in the most diverse social institutions, leads inevitably to the establishment of an authoritarian, corporative regime with strong collectivist tendencies and a rejection of the economic and political modernization of our society. It is a path whose ill-fated results have already been seen throughout the world, as is currently the case in Venezuela or Cuba, but it is still attractive for important sectors of the population. The other path leads to the recovery of an economic and political system based upon respect for liberty, the right of people to work and produce in pursuit of their welfare and that of society....  Bolivia is at a crossroads and it is not in the hands of Carlos Mesa to lead the country in one direction or the other. The choice is in the hands of all Bolivians. Nobody is excused from the obligation to act. It is urgent to leave the comfortable role of spectators so everyone may play their own role in daily battle for defense of the values and principles that must inspire the construction of a better country."

 

"Bordering Economic Disaster"

 

An editorial in centrist La Razon stated (10/21):  "Bolivia is very close to economic disaster, which would be the worst consequence of the political-social confrontations, since it would affect the entire population. The sectors that most suffered were production and commerce, as well as services, like the financial system and tourism, which especially in La Paz has suffered 'a mortal blow’.  Exports have suffered the greatest impact of the crisis however.  Thousands of tons of products in transit to the ports of the Pacific were detained in the blocked roads, as well in trains....  It was a shame that none of the parts in the conflict was looking at the deterioration suffered by the economy.… It is essential to take care of the little we have in order to not deepen the breaches of poverty and lack of growth which are suffocating the economy.”

 

"To Defend Democracy"

 

Arguing that the recent violence was not addressed at the government but society itself, Roberto Laserna stated in centrist La Razon (10/21):   “It operated like a collective kidnapping in which the renunciation of the president, the burying of gas and the breaking of constitutional order, were ransom demands.  Unfortunately, many (Bolivians) suffered from the ‘Stockholm syndrome”, expressing their solidarity with the kidnappers and identifying with them. The president’s resignation creates a precedent for enormous political and social cost in the future.  Every election will be subject to objections and every presidency uncertain, beginning with the one that succeeds him.  The whole system of representative democracy has returned to the fragility of those times that opened space for dictatorships."

 

 

ARGENTINA:  "Latin America, New 'Faux-pas' For Bush: Instability In The Region"

 

Jorge Rosales, daily-of-record La Nacion Washington-based correspondent, observed (10/22): "After the downfall of Sanchez de Lozada in Bolivia amid an extremely serious crisis, Democratic Party opposition in the U.S. yesterday intensified its criticism against the Bush administration, blaming it for ignoring the countries in the hemisphere....  During a Foreign Relations Committee debate at the House of Representatives, A/S Noriega was forced to strongly defend the Bush administration's regional policy, saying it's goal is to have partners that are 'economically strong, democratic, stable and prosperous.'  'The recent issues in Bolivia underscore the challenges faced by the region,' said Noriega.... During a Congress hearing on regional policy, USAID A/S Director Adolfo Franco made a raw description of the situation in Latin America and said that the region's instability is a threat to U.S. national security.... However, Noriega didn't want to address the issue and only mentioned that, according to the Bush administration, hemispheric countries are of 'crucial importance' to U.S. security and welfare....  Reviewing the achievements of the Bush administration in the region, Noriega mentioned that the USG goal is to build a hemispheric community 'united by the common value of freedom, strengthened by the rule of law and prosperous as a consequence of free trade.'"

 

"The U.S. Answers Sanchez de Lozada"

 

Ana Baron, Washington-based correspondent for leading Clarin, wrote (10/21): "'Bolivia's problems are not only financial, but much deeper than that,' a high-ranking member of the Bush administration told Clarin. 'Bolivia's democracy is being challenged. The problem is how to satisfy the huge demands of the people in the framework of democracy.'  In this way, the USG official rejected the charges made by former president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada about the little help he received from the U.S....  In fact, in a real offensive to demonstrate the interest Bush has in the region, according to the U.S. State Department, the Foreign Press Center spread a long memorandum in Washington including a list of U.S. initiatives in the Western Hemisphere, the milestones in trade negotiations, including the approval of the free trade deal with Chile, U.S. President Bush's and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's direct participation in the Inter-American system meetings, and a list of all the trips of the high-ranking government members to the region."

 

"Argentina And Brazil Offer Their Mediation in Bolivia's Crisis"

 

Daniel Miguez, leading Clarin political columnist, wrote (10/17):  "A large part of their hour-long meeting was devoted to the crisis in Bolivia; but this was not only the topic of their conversation, they also came up with decisions. The most important one is to offer Bolivian authorities and the opposition the mediation of the two countries. All parties accepted the proposal.  A high government source said that the key worry of Presidents Lula and Kirchner is for the Bolivian crisis to be solved within the democratic system."

 

"Sanchez de Lozada Toughens His Stance"

 

Juan Castro Olivera, on special assignment in Bolivia for daily-of-record La Nacion wrote (10/17): "In one of the most important popular rallies in more than two decades of democracy, social movements and peasants rejected yesterday in La Paz and other Bolivian cities a possible political agreement with the government of President Lozada who, after playing his last 'conciliatory' card two days ago, now seems ready to give a tougher response to the protests which have been threatening his continuity in power."

 

 

"The U.S. Fears A 'Contagion Effect' In The Region"

 

Jorge Rosales, Washington-based correspondent for daily-of-record La Nacion commented (10/16): "According to analysts and experts in Latin American politics, the violent clashes in Bolivia could become a dangerous precedent in Latin America and be taken as a flag in other countries in crisis. The USG said yesterday that, once again, it is closely following the crisis that is harassing president Sanchez de Lozada, and reiterated its support for the 'democratically elected' government... According to Professor Mark Chernick, from Georgetown University, the contagion in Latin America could happen if the fight on exports of natural resources were taken as antiglobalization flag....  Sean Carroll, researcher from the InterAmerican Dialogue, believes that while there are problems and crises in some Latin American countries, 'it does not necessarily mean there will be contagion in the region.' According to Carroll, this will depend on the way the Bolivian crisis will be solved....   According to the expert in Latin American affairs from the Center for Strategic International Studies, Miguel Diaz, history has proved that these kinds of crises unleash contagion in the region. He blames the US for the Bolivian crisis because, in his opinion, the anti-drug policy was very limited and increased the frustration of many Bolivians. 'There has been a lot of money for the fight on drugs, but very little money for development purposes.'"

 

"The Region, In An Endless Downfall"

 

Pablo Biffi, leading Clarin international columnist, wrote (10/15): "One by one, most countries in the region have been experiencing an endless downfall. Bolivia, today, is the last example of the economic and social decline of Latin America, cornered after almost two decades of 'macro-economic' policies, but lacking a social profile. In Ecuador, the crisis devoured five presidents in seven years. Peru and Argentina, in their own style, rejected the same model. Brazil, too, with Lula's access to power, was in search of a new horizon, even though in practice he's the same but with another face: now Lula's also facing waves of criticism. In Venezuela, the fall in Chavez' popularity is basically due to the two adjustments aimed at coming out of the crisis that has already hit the poorest sectors. These impoverished societies don't appear willing to accompany these inequalities. Democracy can't mature and presidents are running out of time in their search for ways to help these majorities come out of the crisis."

 

"A Crisis That May Spread to Other Andean Countries"

 

Maria Oliva, business-financial El Cronista international analyst stated (10/15): "The social outburst that has jeopardized Lozada's administration is a clear indication of a highly unstable situation that's spreading to other Andean countries. In addition to Venezuela's institutional problem, with an unpredictable ending, we have the extremely low level of support for President Toledo in Peru; the guerrillas in Colombia and the growing demands of Ecuador's peasants that are undermining President Gutierrez.Although each of these countries has its own characteristics, all of them suffer a combination of unsolved 'long-time' factors, such as economic crisis, lack of integration with the indigenous population, a social agenda postponed for years and very frail political institutions.... Another component of the conflict in the Andean countries is the economy of coca plantations and the consequences of their eradication policies... In all these countries, the indigenous population is a major component of the poorest and more destitute sectors of society. Nevertheless, in some of them, their power is growing: like Evo Morales, in Bolivia.... On the Bolivian crisis, Miguel Diaz, of the Center for Strategic Studies, regrets the lack of international reaction vis-ŕ-vis a crisis that was announced several months ago."

 

BRAZIL:  "Bolivia In Transition"

 

Center-left Jornal do Brasil editorialized (10/22): "In a fulminating action this weekend, the Brazilian diplomacy was the star in the solution of the Bolivian crisis.  Brazil and Argentina, together, were the great foreign supports of a national accord, which...at least opens room and gains time to calm emotions and prepare a milder solution vis-a-vis the presidential elections....In fact, countries like Bolivia and Paraguay...are a permanent challenge to democracy in Latin America.  The drama in Bolivia is precisely that.  According to the current course of upcoming presidential elections, the country is under serious risk of a very complicated political re-shuffling with populism prevailing in a completely irresponsible manner.It's a huge challenge.  To stabilize the Bolivian political process is of fundamental importance.  And our economic interests here...are gigantic.  There is the risk of our being mistaken with those who have benefit from the advantages, although in detriment of the Bolivians.  Those, in particular the Indigenous majority, feel excluded  from the country's [political, economic, social] life. The solution will not be an easy one and it will have to be negotiated.  Brazil demonstrated its intentions the last weekend: a good start and a sign that we are alert." 

 

"Hold Back The Fury"

 

Right-of-center O Globo editorialized (10/21):  "Bolivian peasants have a picturesque, challenging way to describe the wave of revolt and protest that has swept out Bolivia and has overthrown President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada. For them what was seen in the streets and the El Alto and La Paz squares was an unmistakable demonstration of force by the ideology of fury.  During this phase of relative calmness one still notes...amongst the victorious opposition forces a tendency to use the same weapon against Vice-President Carlos Mesa.... If within three months the inexperienced Mesa is unable to fulfill the promises he made at the Inauguration speech, the activists of the ideology of fury threaten to get back to the streets and throw everything down again. This is a dangerous road for any democracy. A country that entrusts its hopes of redemption in the figure of a motherland savior jeopardizes its own future.  Latin America is a vast cemetery of populist, salvationist experiences of such kind.  Mesa hasn't been tested yet, and he needs a minimum time frame to show what he has to offer.  He may be a good surprise or the continuation of the previous administration.... At any rate, it would be unfair to expect great changes in the immediate future.  Fragile institutions, rather than this or that politician, is what has most likely led the country to the tragic confrontation in recent months. With their precarious nature, they have contributed to digging a gap between government actions and the majority's needs and aspirations.  They have possibly distorted political representation, leaving the indigenous majority apart from  decision takings and allowing political, racial, economic and social resentment--an explosive combination--to accumulate throughout the centuries.  The bottom line is that they have led Bolivia to an impasse.  If Mesa manages to reconcile the country, to conduct the transition process, to articulate the most urgent reforms, he will have already paid an immense service to Bolivia and the region.  Brazil's and Argentina's mediation--so important to the peaceful outcome of this crises--is also essential during this phase."

 

"Reinforce The Andean Frontier"

 

Miriam Leităo commented in right-of-center O Globo (10/21):  "The Bolivia crisis reminds us that South America continues to be an area of conflict and instability.  Particularly in the Andes where, the same type of conflict between the indigenous people and the white elite is repeated in all countries in the region.  This social, ethnic inequality may lead to new upheavals....  The worst - particularly Colombia and Peru--are guerrilla activities on the borders.  But Brazilian Defense Minister, José Viegas, does not regard them as 'political groups.'  'I do not recognize FARC's nor Sendero Luminoso's political or diplomatic credentials....  Even so, the Minister says that [Brazilian] Armed Forces are working to turn defense unites in the region more agile, more coordinated and capable to act faster.  The Minister says that there are 25,000 men in the Amazon and 25 border platoons from the Acre state to the Para State [to the North of Brazil.]  'Now we are transforming the San Gabriel da Cachoeira platoon [the borders with Venezuela and Colombia] into a battalion, what means to increase of 70 to 800 men,' he says....  Frequent cases of territory violations in Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira alone [in the Amazonas state,] takes place by smugglers, drug-traffickers, depredation of environmental resources and occupation of indigenous reserves--with an area of 112 thousand square kilometers."

 

"Institutional Way Out"

 

Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo editorialized (10/21): "What has happened in Bolivia is so far a democratic movement that led to the deposing of a legitimately elected president who became unpopular.... Latin America's history, especially that of Bolivia, suggests that any deeper political crisis may lead to a non-institutional outcome.... This time, however, legality is being preserved."

 

"Bolivian Institutional Crisis"

 

Independent Jornal da Tarde held (10/21): "Sanchez de Lozada's resignation, the expectation of presidential elections and the apparent honeymoon between the provisional government and the population have eased the atmosphere of mutiny in La Paz, but will not resolve the institutional crisis that has made Bolivia a permanent breeding ground for military coups.... The announced referendum on gas exports, the review of the law on fuels, the call for a Constituent Assembly, the shortening of the presidential term and the call for elections may have a temporary effect, but such relief will unfortunately last a much shorter time than optimists think."

 

 "The Risk Of Total Ruin"

 

The lead editorial in center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo commented (10/20): "No one in Bolivia believes that replacing President Lozada with V.P. Carlos Mesa will restore civil order.... Carlos Mesa is fully aware of the enormous precariousness of his position.  According to him, Bolivia is playing its final card and his transition administration runs the risk of 'total ruin'.... As Lozada anticipated, his resignation does not mean the end of the crisis.... Indian leader Felipe Quispe and the leader of the coca planters, Evo Morales, will not leave Carlos Mesa in peace.... Bolivia will emerge from this crisis only if it can count on foreign investment to help it develop its natural resources. What the leaders who subverted the nation want, however, is the opposite: a primitive economic nationalism, a xenophobia that is hostile to firms and individuals who are not Bolivian."

 

 "Bolivia's Gloomy Future"

 

Independent Jornal da Tarde commented (10/16): "Even if the mobilization of major multilateral organizations to find a solution for preserving democracy in Bolivia is successful, nothing guarantees that the social and political crisis will not arise again in the near future, resulting in institutional chaos or a military coup.... Planned Bolivian gas exports to the U.S., which would have given Bolivia US$25 billion over 20 years, were President Lozada's last chance.  However, Indian leaders have radicalized nationalism and decided to confront the government.... Regardless of whichever way out [of the current crisis] is found, Bolivia's problems will persist and may lead to the fall of the democratic regime and social unrest."

 

"Differences"

 

Right-of-center O Globo (10/16): "The Bolivian political crisis has, among other complicating issues, an ethnic component: Indian descendents consider themselves mistreated by the whites and now claim for 'a government of Indians.'  With some variations, the problem is being repeated in other countries in the Spanish America, like Peru, where Indians and whites have never effectively mixed.  In light of such facts, it would be the case to think with less ingratitude about the history of the Brazilian formation - magnificently described by Gilberto Freyre in his book "The Main House & the Slave Quarter." [Casa Grande & Senzala.]  On the 500th anniversary of the [Brazilian] discovery, some here said there wasn't anything to celebrate.  But in the entire world Brazilian experts have emphasized that miscegenation of races among us was an exceptionally successful experience.  There are also those who say that Indians here disappeared because they were massacred.  It would be interesting then, while visiting States such as Pará or Amazonas, to explain from where comes that physical type is not at all Caucasian."

 

"Unacceptable Withdrawal"

An editorial in center-right O Globo held (10/15): "Brazil's position with the Bolivian crisis should already be automatic in situations of this nature: A wise and difficult mixture of great concern with absolute impartiality....  It would be fearful to interfere in a confrontation  including sensitive historical, ideological components....There is also the question of choosing the port to export fuel to the U.S. and Mexico.... Bolivia has a past of turmoil and fortunately it has already overcome the successive coups d'état with generals of operetta to be overthrown at the first chance.  The democratic period lasting for two decades now, is a victory for Bolivians as well as to all Latin Americans: It came with the Continent's democratization. Therefore, neighbors have the right to press.  It's valid, for example, to claim the Mercosul item demanding associate members to respect constitutional order.  What's more important is to make it clear to Bolivians, especially the military, that the entire Continent rejects any anti-democratic alternative."

 

"Protests In Bolivia"

 

Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo editorialized (10/15): "Although the crisis in Bolivia is grave, there is nothing so far indicating that it may result in a coup or any other non-institutional way out. Therefore, it seems premature to speak, as the U.S. Department of State did, about an 'attack against democracy and institutional order'.... Respecting the proportions, the recall in California was not essentially different from what is going on in Bolivia.... The U.S.'s quick defense of a democratic order that has not even been questioned can be explained in other ways. If President Sanchez de Lozada resigns, opposition leader Evo Morales might gain importance in the administration of VP Carlos Mesa. And Morales is a reason for U.S. concern because he is a leftist and leader of coca planters."

 

CHILE:  "Regional Weakness"

 

Santiago financial El Diario (10/23): "Events like the one in Bolivia reveal the concealed weakness of some Latin American governments that have come to power without majority representation....  But these events also have foreign investment consequences....  Regional instability can undermine the arrival of new foreign resources.  The competition for resources, especially among emerging markets, is fierce.  This is why events like those in Bolivia do not help Latin America."

 

"Bolivian Crisis"

 

Conservative, influential El Mercurio observed (10/23):  "Bolivia's real problem is that it has been unable to integrate its indigenous population to development at the same pace it has integrated the rest of its inhabitants....  This has created animosity among the Quechuas and Aymaras--who represent more than 50% of the populace--toward the political class, which is mostly white....  Intellectual groups from developed nations feed this animosity by supporting--with idealism but little knowledge of the facts--the indigenous movements.  In the process, this strengthens anti-American sentiment....  But the mixture of elements reflected in animosity toward the white population does not help the indigenous population overcome poverty."

 

"Bolivia On The Edge Of The Abyss"

 

Leading-circulation, popular La Tercera judged (10/15): "The government of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada is facing a serious crisis...with a month of violent demonstrations, unofficial imposition of martial law that has already left about 50 dead, and a paralyzed country....  The lack of support Sanchez de Lozada had when he took office, 22%, is becoming an inherent weakness in the presidential system....  The uncomfortable political division affecting Sanchez de Lozada, who still has Washington's nominal support and the Army's support, is so far gone that not even last-minute announcements that a plebiscite will be held to resolve issues...have calmed things.  Although Sanchez de Lozada's departure would resolve matters, in truth the situation entails a series of problems that can only be resolved by means of a national political agreement."

 

GUATEMALA:  Bolivia:  The High Price of a Crisis"

 

Business-oriented Siglo Veintiuno stated in its main editorial (10/19):  "The resignation of Bolivian president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, required to end one of the worst political crisis of that country...is too costly....  It cannot be considered a good precedent for any society in the modern world to have illegal strikes and sedition bring down a president who was democratically elected, because of the dangerous weakening of the rule of law that represents.  Bolivia's case has identified the true essence of the cocaine leader, Evo Morales, who headed this bloody revolt, because he has an immeasurable ambition to rule that country, unmasking him as the real conspirator against the rule of law."

 

"Bolivia's Indigenous Rebellion"

 

Morning El Periodico ran an op-ed by staff writer Miguel Angel Sandoval on (10/18):  "The center of Bolivia's revolt was the Government's attempt to hand-over natural resources to foreign companies and its desire to privatize everything...that was the essence of the political idiocy of Goni, as the Bolivian president is known because he speaks Spanish with an accent....The people of Bolivia, especially the indigenous groups are in need of solidarity.  It is absolutely contrary to the construction of democracy and of national sovereignty, which the armed forces are allowed to defend democracy, against the indigenous farmers who can only un-stabilize their misery."

 

PARAGUAY: "Fall Of Sanchez Reflects American Policies Toward Latin America"

 

A regular columnist for conservative La Nacion editorialized (10/19): "The fall of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada of Bolivia demonstrates anew the effects of American policies toward Latin America....  Sanchez de Lozada governed to satisfy Washington.  For their part the United States bestowed him with 'democratic credentials' which they also granted to other embarrassments like Luis Angel Gonzalez Macchi of our country.... The immense American power permits the invention of legitimacy...for a time, but as has been confirmed in Bolivia...mere propaganda is not enough.... It seems obvious that in Washington they are not worried about gaining the affection of our societies; it is enough for them to have someone with enough power who will serve them.  Latin Americans have the challenge of establishing a new framework for relating to the United States, an urgent challenge because many problems caused by this relationship produce cataclysms and death, like now in Bolivia."

 

PERU:  "Bolivia: Alert That Deserves Attention"

 

Rightist influential leading El Comercio (10/22):  "The fall of President Sanchez de Lozada's government is not a..real long-lasting solution.…  As legitimate as vice president Carlos Mesa's taking of office may be...disruption of a constitutional mandate is harmful.…  Bolivia's plotting...may put the viability of the…[Bolivian] State at stake.…Since the international community has not been able to enforce the Inter American Democratic Charter, there is an additional risk that political instability may be spread out to other Andean countries.… The U.S. --which now realizes that could had better contributed to [prevent the failure] of the resigning government--, should not limit [its support] to counternarcotics strategies, but also...invest more in cooperation for development.  The State Department is not.… the problem…The U.S. Congress' lack of interest on Latin America -where even now...the latest events in Bolivia are ignored--is a new signal of alarm for the hemispheric stability."

 

"And Now, Bolivia"

 

Top circulation El Correo asserted (10/22):  "The most worrisome aspect of Bolivia's recent social upheaval is not the deaths that prompted the resignation of [former President] Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, but the many more deaths to come tomorrow or the day after.  If today' deaths could in some way prevent future deaths they would be meaningful, even heroic.  Everything seems to indicate, however, that all these people died in vain. No one, be it the opposition, the ousted administration, the neighboring countries, or Washington, has said a word about the real problem on hand. Hence, even if the violence prompted by this crisis fizzles out following the downfall of the president, the truth is that there is every indication that the underlying causes will not go away....  Despite the concerns of OAS member countries, that see their own reflection in the mirror, the crisis had no anti-democratic overtones.  There is no narco-terrorism, regardless of what the DEA's puppets in Washington may say....  The problem is that, differences notwithstanding, Bolivia is now going through something that occured a while ago in Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, and in a different way in El Salvador where the old FMLN [Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front] is leading in the polls against the ruling Arena [Nationalist Republican Alliance], which is regarded as a social disaster of near-cataclysmic proportions. This collective malady has a name: the hangover from the 1990s....  In the end, the pent-up frustration of millions of have-nots erupted with the strength of a delayed explosion....  The above chasm is fertile ground for reactionary demagogues like the ones that have surfaced recently. Bolivia has a high ratio of them per square meter. Just as every social protest is an opportunity for goons to loot stores, every parting of ways between government and people is an opportunity for self-styled messiahs to deprive citizens of their common sense.  Hence, neither Evo Morales...nor Felipe Quispe...are at the root of the problem. In fact, if a soldier were to shoot Morales in the head, seven new heads would spout from his body.  Sanchez de Lozada accomplished nothing by resorting to the might of the tanks before throwing in the towel." 

VENEZUELA: "Bolivia" 

Journalist Juan Páez Avila commented in tabloid Ultimas Noticias (10/23):  “The experience in Bolivia should make us reflect on the use of violence in struggles within a democratic society without affecting its freedoms and institutions.  Can an opposition sector issue a three-month ultimatum for a new government to be accepted and respected as legal and legitimate?  It is unacceptable in a democratic system.  It seems that in Bolivia democracy will defeat violence through the Consultative Referendum and a Constituent Assembly.  However, Latin America is heated because of the actions of the Colombian guerrilla, Chávez’s rhetoric and pre-revolutionary indigenous movement led by Evo Morales.  In short, democracy can be more powerful than violence if it is more democratic, representative, and participatory.” 

"Bolivia: The Battle Of Our Time" 

G.G.P. commented in pro-GoV tabloid Diario VEA (10/22): “It is not Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada’s failure.  It is the failure of a system. It is the failure of the old parties, of the old power groups, of the old politics. Just like what happened in Venezuela. They had their chance but could not deliver.  They became servants of the large corporations, of their foreign masters.  They believed in the eternity of the exclusion of the poor and in the unlimited exploitation of the indigenous groups. The Bolivian rebellion has a historic, social and political significance.  It is the most nationalistic battle of our time.  If it develops, as we hope so, with the same strength and determination shown so far, we will witness the deepest revolution in Latin America, and its consequences will be a cataclysm for the traditional and dominant powers.” 

 "The Andean Process"

Political analyst and writer, Alberto Garrido commented in leading conservative El Universal (10/21): “Evo Morales and Hugo Chávez discussed energy issues on the “Hello President!” show on August 10.  On April 14 (2002), in the framework of the celebrations of Chávez’s return to power, Chavez met with Evo Morales; Blanca Chancoso, Ecuadorian indigenous leader; Rafael Alegría, Honduran indigenous leader and a reporter from Narco News agency, who wrote the article "To Globalize the Bolivarian Revolution" based on that conversation.  In his last visit to Argentina, Chávez and the Bolivarian Congress outlined their lines of action against the FTAA, the payment of the external debt, and Plan Colombia.  Bolivia’s indigenous-Bolivarian-revolutionary process is as real as Venezuela’s civic-military revolution, and both lead the revolutionary process, which, so far, advances faster than Plan Colombia does in the Andean region.”

"Chewing Coca Leaves"

Journalist and writer Roberto Giusti commented in leading conservative daily El Universal (10/21):  “The breakdown of the political system, the failure of a democracy marked by the privileges of the dominant white class, and the distressing social and economic situation in Bolivia have led some to describe it as the beginning of a continental indigenous rebellion.  At least as Latin American leaders, like Chávez, dream about. His links with Evo Morales are public and evident; Sánchez de Lozada denounced them before stepping down.  The attempts to set in motion an indigenous rebellion started with then-Foreign Affairs Minister Rangel’s private secretary’s visit to the Bolivarian countries.  His mission failed, but the attempts did not: Evo passed by Miraflores nearly five months ago.”

“What Do Political Experts Say?”

Marciano commented in pro-GoV tabloid Diario VEA (10/21): “Political experts say that Chávez is isolated from the international community, that he is rejected by the world and that his foreign policy is a complete failure.  Well then, Lula and Kirschner prove this wrong.  Both are closer to the Venezuelan leader’s positions than to those of the political experts’ gringo friends.  Elections will be held in Uruguay next year, and El Frente Amplio seems to be the winner.  Does that mean more isolation or more friends for Chávez?  The OAS could not make a successful statement on Bolivia.  But lonely Chávez is the most popular person in Bolivia.” 

"Today Bolivia" 

Gustavo Linares Benzo commented in leading conservative El Universal (10/19): “The situation in Bolivia couldn’t be worse.  The fight has become so radical that Evo Morales is calling for an indigenous parliament as a political organization following Gonzalez de Losada’s removal.  This is not an improvised option, it is part of a very well planned strategy by indigenous leaders and the Latin America left, whose main assembly is the Sao Paulo forum, with Chavez as an emblematic figure.  Venezuela’s official posture is very akin to that of the indigenous movement.  But Venezuela is neither Bolivia nor Ecuador.  The percentage of the indigenous population is barely 2 percent, so privileging those countrymen over the rest would be unfair, even though it is obvious that their cultures deserve respect.  We have to look at ourselves in the Bolivian mirror, and get ready to prevent those racial problems from fictitiously taking place in Venezuela.”

 

"War in La Paz, Bolivia" 

 

UCV Foreign Affairs expert, Reinaldo Bolívar commented in Ultimas Noticias (10/18): “Bolivia reflects, once again, the failure of the neo-liberal measures implemented in Latin America.  The country faces an alarming social exclusion: seven out of 10 Bolivians are poor; seven out of ten are indigenous.  A white minority, which took control of the basic industries, has run Bolivia, even in the 20 years of democracy: a kind of Andean apartheid.  It was incredible to see that in its statement, the OAS expressed its blind support to President Lozada without condemning the murder of nearly 100 people at the hands of the Army and the closure of media outlets.  Gaviria’s OAS is submissive to the Bush administration and loses all international credibility by not making a statement on the heart of the matter.”   

 

"Continental Revolution" 

 

Orlando Augusto Nieto Willet commented in sensationalist 2001 (10/18): “For those who don’t know it yet, the bolivarian revolution is continental.  Not because Chávez says so, but because he does so.  Evo Morales, top leader of coca farmers in Bolivia, has had close links with the government of Venezuela for a long time.  Today the world wonders: How does he get funds? I think the answer is obvious.”       

 

"The Goni Effect”

Clodovaldo Hernández commented in leading conservative El Universal (10/17):  “The case of Bolivia demonstrates the oligarchy is not always successful when it becomes an "oligo-cracy," that is, when it exercises power directly.  Contrary to what Chávez and other naďve Zamora followers believe, Bolivia demonstrates that oligarchs do not tremble when they go horseback riding in their properties, but when, unfortunately, they come up with the great idea of becoming an oligocrat.”

EUROPE

 

GERMANY: "Revolt Of The Indian Population"

 

Peter Burghardt had this to say in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (10/20): "Ousted President Sanchez de Lozada is an especially loyal representative of the neo-liberal model in which the market settles everything.  This has made him a very wealthy man, but turned his country into a very poor one.  Thus his case turned into an obscene parable on social tensions in a forgotten region.…  Even during his first term, Sanchez intensified this trend by attracting international investors, from which only a minority benefited....  For the Indian majority, Sanchez is considered the ugly face of a white oligarchy, the elite of a power from which they have felt exploited for centuries.  In addition, he speaks Spanish with an American accent.  The project of a gas pipeline…only triggered the revolt.  The rebellion is directed against the system itself.  For wide parts of the population, the IMF, the U.S. State Department and its supporters are the enemies who are responsible for a decline in the standard of living.  To put it simpler:  this is an expression of the rejection of globalization...  The revolt of the people is mainly spreading in the Andes nations that have a large Indian population.  Their governments are well-advised to counter this growing pressure with reforms."

 

"Escort Service For Bolivia's President"

 

Roland Heine had this to say in an editorial for left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (10/20): "The first announcements of Sanchez de Lozada's successor are remarkable for Bolivian relations if he is serious about them.  Mesa not only wants a binding referendum over the controversial export of natural gas and early elections.  The new president also announced that he also plans to appoint representatives of the Indian majority in his government.  In addition, he wants to call to account the people who are responsible for the death of 70 protesters.  In view of the small latitude Mesa has, this program could quickly cause new trouble, too....  The decisive foreign policy factor will be the United States.  Only recently it defended the ousted president and his political course with a threatening undertone.  Now Washington says it wants to 'accompany the Bolivian people and the government.'  This warning should have reached its addressee."

RUSSIA: "Growing Pains"

Sergey Strokan commented in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (10/20): "Things will not improve in Bolivia now.   Pretty soon Bolivians will realize that driving Sanchez de Losada out does not make their life any better, and that their problem is not Losada or his program.   Populists are good at destroying but much worse at constructing....  But then, of course, after centuries of deception and treachery, Bolivians...know better than to believe foreigners.  What happened had to happen.   It is growing pains and it will pass eventually.   Development is a long and tortuous road, one of trials and setbacks.   It is the same in Bolivia, Russia, and everywhere."

 

SOUTH ASIA

BANGLADESH: "Consequences Of The Decision To Export Gas"

Pro-Saddam Bangla language Inqilab editorially commented (10/20):  "When the Bolivian people took to the streets against the government decision to export gas, they also protested against the U.S.-supported market economy followed by President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada.  Vice president Carlos Mesa has now replaced him.  A newcomer in politics, Carlos has spoken of an early election as demanded by the demonstrators.  He also announced a referendum on exporting gas.  Indigenous Indians are opposed to gas exports and think that a system might be imposed on them that will benefit neighboring Chile and foreign investors, including the U.S.  In fact, the Bolivian people want to utilize their natural resources for their own interests.  The government decision must reflect people’s wishes on the question of national resources.  The Bolivian developments prove that consequences of decisions taken under foreign pressure and contrary to the people’s wishes are not pleasant."

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Commentary from ...
Europe
Middle East
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Western Hemisphere
October 24, 2003 BOLIVIA: A 'DANGEROUS' PATH FOR DEMOCRACY



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