June 10, 2005
BOLIVIA'S CRISIS: AMID 'CHAOS,' A 'DESOLATE OUTLOOK'
** Bolivia's political crisis is "a powder keg that can explode any time."
** Genesis of unrest is "immense inequality" between Bolivia's rich and poor.
** Crisis adds "a new element of instability" to Latin America's "already difficult" situation.
Towards a 'dead-end street'-- In an environment of "utter confusion," Bolivian dailies said, the country faces "one of the worst crises" in its history. La Paz's leftist La Prensa stated that the cities of La Paz and El Alto "are about to collapse due to the drastic siege imposed" by protest groups who "have turned the streets...into trenches." Leading La Razon agreed that El Alto's "entire population...is subject to the...fear of suffering reprisals for not participating in mobilizations ordered by neighbors and union chiefs or petty tyrants," terming it part of "communist-style" organizers' "machinations to impose a totalitarian regime on Bolivia." Papers faulted the national Congress for acting with "tardiness" in addressing the crisis; La Prensa asserted that "general elections as soon as possible" were needed to "save the democratic system and preserve the national unity." Brazil's financial Valor Economico agreed, saying elections are the "only solution capable" of providing a long-term solution for Bolivia's troubles.
'Divided between rich and poor, whites and indigenous'-- Analysts blamed Bolivia's democratic "weakness" on "an economic structure of immense inequality that is constantly triggering chaos." As Guatemala's conservative La Hora put it, "marginalization, exploitation, hunger and desperation are the source" for the country's "lack of governability." Writers highlighted the contrast between the "poor indigenous majority and the minority of European descent that controls" Bolivia's "wealthy Eastern sector." Bolivia "is running several simultaneous risks" including territorial division "or a civil dictatorship" supported by the military. Chile's conservative La Tercera viewed President Mesa's resignation as "only temporarily" helping; speaking for many, it saw little prospect of a "permanent solution" to the country's institutional and social crisis until "Bolivian society comes together to support a national accord that invests" all sectors of society "with a common future view."
'A metaphor' for Latin problems-- Noting that "numerous leftist governments" had recently come to power in Latin America, commentators observed that "hopes that market economy reforms" would ease the lives of the poor "have remained unfulfilled." Bolivia's crisis, center-left Euro papers argued, is a "visceral reaction" against "new enemy images"--the U.S., globalization and "neoliberal" economic policies. Peruvian papers noted that "concern extends beyond Bolivia"; center-left La Republica concluded "what happens in Bolivia...affects Peru and is linked to the phenomenon coursing through the Andean countries." Writers in Argentina and Guatemala denied that "the hand of president (Venezuela's) Hugo Chávez" was behind the crisis, but conservative skeptics in Chile and Venezuela emphasized the "long-standing ideological affinity and common political purposes" shared by "populist left-wing seducers" like Chávez, Bolivian opposition leader Evo Morales and Fidel Castro.
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, email@example.com
EDITOR: Steven Wangsness
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 38 reports from 17 countries June 2 - 10, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BOLIVIA: "El Alto Under Intimidation"
La Paz's leading La Razon commented (6/9): "In totalitarian regimes, whatever their ideological sign may be, one way to submit the people to its will is intimidation, terror.... That is what’s happening in El Alto whose population surpasses 800,000, so it is not any tiny town or abandoned village. While in Bolivia a democratic system reigns, the entire population of El Alto is subject to the intimidation of fear of suffering reprisals for not participating in the mobilizations ordered by neighbor and union chiefs or petty tyrants. A 'commissioner' in the purest communist style goes house by house with his tin of paint to mark the door of the neighbors who resist participating in the social convulsion, the marches and blockades. The mark is made so that later, other 'commissioners' will order destruction to those houses. Another resources used against the population is the imposition of fines to those who do not comply with the demands of the Neighbors Federations. Who is accountable for that money obtained through such tortuous means? Nobody. It is the reign of swindle and embezzlement.... It is a falsehood from neighbor and union leaders of that city who say that ‘social mobilizations’ are the product of the sentiment of the masses. Everything seems to indicate instead that it is all part of their machinations to impose on Bolivia a totalitarian regime.”
"The Hour Of Truth"
La Paz's leftist La Prensa editorialized (6/8): "La Paz and El Alto are two cities that are about to collapse due to the drastic siege imposed by the El Alto Neighborhood Federations, supported by the regional Central Workers Union and a series of campesino groups, miners and university students, who have turned the streets of El Alto into trenches and those of La Paz in a battlefield of aggression against its population. They have constantly modified their demands, which implies that behind them, there are obscure objectives and interests. Added to this complex situation are the progressive paralysis of all activities in La Paz due to the lack of fuel, the lack of medicines and oxygen, the higher costs of the scarce food, the more than 60 blockades in the roads of the nine provinces, the taking of the gas installations. As if this weren’t enough, the mobilizations are increasingly more aggressive, showing authoritarian sentiments and an obsessive predisposition towards confrontations.... All of that is building a powder keg that can explode any time and, as we all know when playing with fire, we can all end up burned. On the other hand, the way in which the executive and legislative politicians are acting shows a high level of insensitivity and a senseless search for the sectarian and partisan interests over the common good, something not only intolerable but suicidal.... If we want to save the democratic system and preserve the national unity and sovereignty, what must be done is to call for general elections as soon as possible."
La Paz daily El Diario held (6/8) "[Congress should be faulted for] failing to fulfill its responsibility for resolving the situation...(after) the two weeks of fear which have haunted La Paz.... [MPs are] waiting until the country is on the point of collapse...(and must face the situation) with responsibility, ability and valor.... Precisely because of the MPs' tardiness, the social groups which have been besieging La Paz have become more radical and widened their demands.... To stop the situation deteriorating even more, our national representatives need to pull out all the stops to approve the legislation needed to put a brake on the popular unrest."
"Mesa's Going But The Chaos Remains"
Cochabamba's Los Tiempos commented (6/8): "Nothing has been resolved as was expected. On the contrary, the situation has become more worrying and uncertain.... [Urgent action is needed to] bring back the situation to the realm of democracy and the state of law, while at the same time repairing our desperate image abroad.... In this scenario of utter confusion, nothing has happened as was expected and desired and the situation has become even more worrying and precarious."
Santa Cruz's El Deber noted (6/8): "[Bolivia] is immersed in one of the worst crises in its republican history.... The announcement the president intends to resign has left a feeling of worrying uncertainty throughout the country.... The panorama is one of extreme gravity.... The country is on the verge of suffocation.... Various of the principle protagonists of this hazardous chapter in the nation's life--with their inflexible attitudes leading to chaos and anarchy--are failing to measure the terrible risks which Bolivia is facing."
"Another Setback For Democracy"
La Paz daily La Razon editorialized (6/8): "[The situation is] a profound crisis for Bolivia.... [Mesa] could have been a great president, but luck had it that the necessary political conditions were against him, and it fell to him to have to face a ferocious and irrational ideological onslaught.... Now, it's the turn of the National Congress.... Parliamentarians must act with political wisdom.... The true will of the people is expressed only via the ballot boxes. Whatever the objective of this or that leader, such as that of nationalization, they will have the opportunity to stand for the presidency and submit their plans to a vote.... Now is not the time for more confrontation."
ARGENTINA: "Bolivia, Between Agreement And War"
Leading Clarin observed (6/9): "The situation in Bolivia is heading to a dead end street in which there are two alternatives: the creation of some kind of agreement between the social and political forces with representation or a civil war with unpredictable consequences.... President Mesa's government wasn't the origin but another consequence of the crisis that rocks Bolivia. This is why his removal doesn't solve the problem, but rather demands from its leaders a true national agreement."
"Can There Be a Civil War?"
Claudio Uriarte opined in leftist Pagina 12 (6/9): "Can there be a civil war in Bolivia? For the time being, it seems not. In fact, the most pressing specter is the disintegration of the country--the prosperous departments of Santa Cruz and Tarija voting in referendums their secession from the poor western region--which could spark a military rebellion.... But, as is the case of a military coup, the scenario of a civil war seems to be several squares away, even in Bolivia's complicated chessboard. This is because a civil war requires a vertical rift in the armed forces, which hasn't materialized yet and wasn't even insinuated.... Military warnings against 'national disintegration' are quite an encouraging indication that this division isn’t occurring.... But there is another specter, equally disturbing, in the event that the armed forces take to the streets: the horizontal rift. This generally occurs when the military are sent to crush rioters and then, after some days of massacre--particularly if the revolt doesn’t subside--soldiers and non commissioned officers--and possibly a sector of intermediate cadres too--start disobeying orders from their commanders. We must bear in mind that these military levels are recruited among and belong to the same social sectors they are sent to suppress: and in a moment, the chain of command is destroyed. This was what speeded up the fall of Sanchez de Lozada in 2003 but, unlike 2003, in the present crisis there isn't a clear figure on which to yield power."
"Who Wins In Bolivia?"
Business-financial Ambito Financiero stated (6/8): "Everything leads to chaos--and, 'the dead are near', admitted a journalist these past days--due to the absolute impossibility to solve so many interests at stake. Without Santa Cruz de la Sierra and without Tarija, the 'residual Bolivia', without the rich areas, without the departments, with more gas and more oil, might end up substituting Haiti as the 'poorest country in the hemisphere'. And chaos would continue. Today, the difference with Haiti is that Bolivia is built on underlying riches, but if its departments or richer provinces seek autonomy, everything changes. The bellicosity of the Bolivian people...makes it practically impossible to reach peaceful UN solutions, like in Haiti. Who's the mid-term winner? Probably, Brazil, because it doesn't depend on Bolivia's gas, like Argentina."
"Blind And Suicidal"
International editor Marcelo Cantelmi wrote in leading Clarin (6/8): "A deeper analysis of the Bolivian crisis sheds a brighter light. The U.S., that resents the fact that Latin Americans blame the IMF for [their] countries' misfortunes, insists today, however, in saying that Bolivia's crisis can't be attributed to domestic pillage, but to the hand of Venezuela's regime for fueling this disaster. The truth is that the weakness of democracy, not only in Bolivia, has less to do with a political flaw than with an economic structure of immense inequality that is constantly triggering chaos.... It's striking to see the surprise of the establishment and a good portion of the political leadership at this fury when nobody designed a...plan for a population that is rich in theory, but is persistently kept away from those riches. The economic and social contradictions explain the collapse of democracy. There is much of suicidal blindness in this lack of understanding."
Hinde Pomeraniec wrote in leading Clarin (6/4): "There is a tuning problem between the timing of president Mesa and that of those protesting for weeks on the streets. With a capital city under siege and on the verge of famine, Carlos Mesa imagined that calling a referendum for October would send protesters home. A historian and a journalist himself, although a little-experienced politician, the Bolivian president seems deaf to the spirit of urgencies. His task is not an easy one because the claim is not just one, just like the opposition does not belong to one political party. The wealthy Eastern sector is asking for autonomy to ensure its property holdings, while the ill-treated Western sector is asking for a new Constitution guaranteeing social justice. It is not easy to predict a happy consensus with such opposite agendas."
BRAZIL: "Bolivia Nearing Political Disintegration"
Business-oriented Valor Economico editorialized (6/10): "Bolivia is once again on the eve of social disintegration.... President Carlos Mesa has resigned for the second time. The nation is running several simultaneous risks--of a territorial splitting or a civil dictatorship supported by the Armed Forces.... The prospect of general elections is the only one capable of bringing some solution to the nation’s future. It is the only solution capable of paving the way for a more balanced relation between representative political forces and those conducting the movements furiously rallying on the streets to the political battlefield in the Congress.... The interruption of gas supplying has not been discarded in a turbulent scenario. Brazil, that imports 24 million square meters of Bolivian gas per day, has a big problem on its hands.... Given the instability in Bolivia, the best Brazil should do is to reduce its dependence on Bolivian sources to a prudent level."
"The Bolivian Puzzle"
Center-right O Globo editorialized (6/9): "If the final declaration on Bolivia issued by the OAS in Fort Lauderdale is anything to go about, the hemispherical organization will play a modest part in the crisis engulfing the Andean country. In the document, the 34 countries went only so far as to ask for calm and respect to human rights by the Bolivian authorities.... The OAS Inter-American Democratic Declaration, by which the member countries are committed to protect constitutional law in the Americas, can only come into force by the initiative of the threatened country, in this case, Bolivia herself. Nevertheless, it is obvious that Bolivia needs help and neighbors cannot afford to turn a blind eye.... Brazil is part of the Bolivian imbroglio and that makes direct diplomatic action unlikely. But isn’t it the case for Brazilian authorities, together with their counterparts in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, call for the democratic article in Mercosul, of which Bolivia is associated member? This mechanism worked in the last Paraguayan political crises and is a pressure instrument that, if well used, could persuade the protagonists of Bolivian drama to make concessions, the very first step for any negotiated solution."
CHILE: "Bolivia In The Eye Of The Hemisphere"
Peruvian writer Alvaro Vargas Llosa opined in conservative, independent La Tercera (6/9): "There are three attitudes toward the Bolivian crisis in the hemisphere. First, that the U.S. and its closest allies--Central America, Colombia, and from a greater distance, Chile--who are concerned Bolivia could fall into the Castro-Chávez axis.... Then there are the countries--Brazil and Argentina--without major ideological differences with the agitating groups or objections to the idea of nationalizing natural gas but that recognize the negative repercussions of a democratic collapse or the rise of a populist leader in Bolivia on their countries. Cuba and Venezuela head the third group. Although Venezuela’s foreign minister has dismissed Roger Noriega’s accusations that Caracas had intervened in the crisis, a month ago Evo Morales attended a radical left-wing conference in Havana and announced nationwide mobilizations.... These continental divisions have made concrete resolutions in the OAS impossible.... The dice have been thrown. Now we must wait to see if Bolivia’s congressional leaders are willing to open the way for the Supreme Court's chief justice to call for a new election.”
"The Resignation Of Bolivia's President"
Conservative, independent La Tercera editorialized (6/8): “Bolivia's institutional weakness, the resultant perpetual governance crisis, its social divisions, and the lack of actors to guarantee...social peace and political latitude to emerge from the tunnel...leave no room for any leadership--regardless of its strength or capability--to take control of the country’s reigns.... President Mesa’s resignation is a thus a step that will only temporarily calm things.... The outlook is desolate. There is no hint of anyone in Bolivian society, at least for now, with the necessary level of credibility to begin any project whatsoever.... All indications are that the conclusion of an electoral process there will bring another crisis period. That is why Bolivia's foreign minister's request that the OAS General Assembly support the next president and supervise democratic order in Bolivia was positive. Until Bolivian society comes together to support a national accord that invests each and every sector with a common future view, none of this seems a permanent solution.”
"Bolivia’s Constitutional Crisis"
Conservative afternoon daily La Segunda observed (6/7): "Irrespective of the attitude Bolivian authorities take, this crisis clearly affects...the whole region.... Worse yet, it adds a new element of instability to the already difficult political, economic, and social situation in South America...particularly if one of the populist leaders who has exacerbated the conflict imposes himself. Out of basic solidarity and also in support of its national interest, Chile wants Bolivia to find a peaceful solution to this anomalous situation and to recover its internal normalcy.”
Center-left Diario Siete remarked (6/8): “It’s terribly unfortunate that Bolivia has been unable to break its vicious circle of institutional breakdowns.... There is abundant historical evidence that countries faced with anarchy or dictatorship choose the latter, but...this is a false solution, because dictatorships never resolve the real problem. On the contrary, they create worse ones.... There will be no long-lasting solution to the Bolivia situation if there is no agreement among the principal political forces regarding Bolivia’s governance.... It is evident that the region cannot remain with its arms folded.... Bolivian forces must be encouraged to dismiss bloodshed and to try to continue living in freedom and to establish a basic agreement to overcome the crisis, assure internal peace, and give the country stability.”
GUATEMALA: "Lessons From Bolivia"
Moderate, leading Prensa Libre editorialized (6/9): "We are talking about the top example of lack of governability and of economic, social and political chaos, with the additional devastating characteristic that in higher or lesser degree it can be extended to the width and length of Latin America, applying in current life the old theory of the domino effect utilized in the Cold War Era.... What happened in Bolivia is the result of a mix of various factors. On the one hand, the anti-American spirit is being reborn in some places in the continent for reasons ranging from plainly justified to those that only can be explained as visceral and above all anachronistic reactions in response to criteria of the fortunately already overcome Cold War.... The most evident representative of this is Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez.... Populism also is responsible.... Why do populist leaders emerge--those whose actions would not do anything less than destroying democracies? This leads us to think about analyzing the politicians´ role as a group.... The Carlos Andrés Pérez, the Alfonso Portillo, the Daniel Ortega, the Carlos Menem, the Allan García, just to mention a few, are the symbol of a class of politicians only interested in robbery, stealing public funds by their own means or by those of their relatives and political gang. It cannot be denied that in Latin America a process is taking place of what could be called ‘efferegization’, ‘riosmontization’ or ‘portillization’ of political activity.”
"Lack Of Governability In Bolivia"
Oscar Clemente Marroquín had this to say in conservative, often anti-American La Hora (6/9): "There are those who, as the United States did in the OAS’s Assembly, say that these things (political crisis of lack of governability, e.g., in Ecuador and Bolivia) happen because Chávez sticks his hands everywhere and blame the Venezuelan government for everything that happens, as it was done in the past with the Castro regime.... Overall, Latin Americans, particularly politicians and the ruling class in our countries, are reluctant to admit the cause-effect relationship between poverty and political and social unrest.... The high authorities in the Untied States simplify the issue, thinking that the political turmoil is the result of some foreign maneuver.... Marginalization, exploitation, hunger and desperation are the source for the lack of governability, and this is something that seen from Europe’s perspective seems so evident, but from the perspective of the centers of power in Latin America is not even perceived."
PERU: "Dramatic Bolivian Election: Between Democracy And Anarchy"
Center-right, influential leading daily El Comercio stated (6/8): "After the forced resignation of president Carlos Mesa, which should be approved by the congress, the volatile situation in Bolivia represents a hard challenge before the political class and social leaders. But concern extends beyond Bolivia to all the countries in the region, who watch impotently...as another cycle of anarchy weakens the democratic system and threatens the future of Bolivia.... Peruvians wish that this situation is resolved soon. But at the same time should be alert and observe attentively the development of facts in Bolivia.... There is a lesson to learn and that we should not wait for things go slip through our fingers before we act.... In Bolivia, the government didn't know how to react opportunely and firmly in response to the movements of certain radical groups looking for instability, some of them linked to coca growers and drug trafficking.... There are certainly social and historic problems claims to solve, but violence is not the way to do it. As history has proved, the democratic system and a free trade economy are the best way to promote sustainable development."
"Concern For Bolivia"
Center-left La Republica concluded (6/8): "We must pay great attention to what happens in Bolivia, because it affects Peru and is linked to the phenomenon coursing through the Andean countries which was also seen recently in Ecuador. Meanwhile, we can only hope that the Bolivian political and social forces can reach agreement on a peaceful solution to this crisis, the worst in the twenty years since Bolivia's restored democracy."
VENEZUELA: "Poor Bolivia"
José Tomás Angola Heredia commented in sensationalist daily 2001 (6/9): “I watch Evo Morales on TV and I don’t know why he sounds to me like a liar, a mass hypnotizer and then a man who would not live up to the hopes of the Bolivian people. Morales is the typical arsonist, a man who capitalizes on the hatred that in Bolivia has been on the increase for centuries. But he is not the solution to the crisis in Bolivia. He is only a step towards the precipice, like Chávez in Venezuela. The reason is that he doesn’t have either the talent or the spirit to build anything. He’s come to destroy. Behind them is the most recent invader of Bolivia [Fidel Castro]. He supports Evo and Hugo to continue with the implosion of the hemisphere.”
"Hugo And Evo’s Sin"
Journalist Roberto Giusti commented in leading conservative daily El Universal (6/9): "[President] Hugo Chávez and [Bolivian opposition leader] Evo Morales’s long-standing ideological affinity and common political purposes, shared with Fidel Castro and the region’s former left-wing guerrilla leaders such as the Salvadorian Shafik Nadal, are so evident that nobody can deny them. Then, how can Venezuela’s foreign affairs minister Rodríguez Araque reject, ‘filled with outrage,’ Roger Noriega’s accusations that Chávez has played a role in Bolivia’s political crisis? The protests of Chávez’s intervention in Bolivia’s internal affairs go back to the times of Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, who denounced Chávez for being behind the riots that led to his ouster. Former President Jorge Quiroga also wrote a letter to Chávez, las December, after he had said that Evo Morales would be the next president of Bolivia, warning him ‘my country’s political future depends only on Bolivians.’"
GERMANY: "Latin America"
Hildegard Stausberg opined in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (6/9): "The specter of ungovernability is haunting Latin America...but an increase in anti-Americanism should let the alarm bells ring in Europe. The widespread malice that the 'gringos' are increasingly unable to get their backyard under control is misplaced. There is no doubt that the Americans made mistakes. But what about the Europeans? They like to refer to their historical links to the region. But when it comes to agricultural subsidies they have insisted for decades on their advantages--to the disadvantage of Latin America. Brussels must be blamed that the opponents to free trade were able to gain so much support. A critical taking stock of Europe's policy towards Latin America is necessary. This includes a realistic analysis of the security situation and a rethinking of their attitude towards left-wing populist seducers like Venezuela's Hugo Chávez or Bolivia's Evo Morales."
"Mass And Helplessness"
Peter Burghardt had this to say in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (6/8): "In reality, the poorest and most unstable Latin American country is wealthy.... The revenue of the raw material of the country would easily be enough for the nine million inhabitants, but instead, half of the population must live on two dollars a day.... The chaos of the past few days is only the latest culmination of a tragic history.... The gap between poor and rich is burdening Latin America as a whole.... Nowhere in the world has there been a more unfair distribution of wealth. The U.S., globalization, neo-liberalism are the new enemy images. Across the continent, we hear the people calling: 'We are the people,' where homogenous states have never developed on the continent, but where the excluded are getting more self-confident. Protest movements in Bolivia, but also in Ecuador and Argentina, are ousting presidents. The rebels despise parliaments and the corrupt parties.... Bolivia's President Mesa tried to peacefully settle the conflict, but the camps are excessively hostile. In the past the military would have staged a coup. This can still happen, but the generals are no longer considered a solution; a civilian way out is now considered a solution. Bolivia is the litmus test for a region, which is threatened by a conflagration. But a new Ché Guevara is not necessary; he failed with his attempt for a global revolution. An electoral day is rather necessary and the willingness for reforms and a fairer distribution of the treasures of the country. Otherwise the state which is named after Simon Bolivar, the man who wanted to free the peoples along the Andes from bondage, will disintegrate."
Business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf observed (6/8): "Bolivia is a permanent trouble spot, even though the poorest country in South America gets most of the international development assistance. But thus far, it has not been able to make a considerable contribution to putting democracy on more stable feet or to improving the standard of living of the poor population groups. On the contrary, it has rather contributed to keeping the country in a pose of a passive opening of hands, instead of finding agreements on its raw material resources and of exploiting them to the benefit of the people.... The international community can do nothing in Bolivia. The only solution would be early elections and a simultaneous decentralization. The radical leaders of the lower class assume political responsibility at the local and national level to become politically more mature, even if this continues the economic decline of the country for the time being. President Carlos Mesa was the best politician the centrist camp in Bolivia was able to offer. Since he failed to reach a consensus in a split society that is divided between the poor and the rich, the whites and the Indians, only a representative of the opposition remains, as radical as this change may be. Bolivia must become mature after all."
Werner Balsen noted in an editorial in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (6/8): "The wealthy people in Bolivia have never been interested in the promotion of disadvantaged regions and an appropriate participation of the Indian population in social life, irrespective of whether presidents or generals were in power. The remarkable thing is only that this has given a social movement strength and influence, even though its program is even 'exotic' for left-wingers in South America: nationalization of raw material and an end to any form of privatization. But its leaders have not yet said how the raw material can be used for the benefit of the people in view of corruption and a lack of infrastructure in Bolivia."
"A Question Of Time"
Center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine editorialized (6/2): "Protesting farmers, trade unionists on strike, blocked roads and looted shops; the pictures from Bolivia might appear similar to those years ago, but we should look at it more closely. For a long time it has no longer been about price hikes or certain laws. It is neither about the president or the constitution of the country. At risk is nothing less than the state of Bolivia. The 'winners of the modernization' in the lowlands, which is rich in resources, are no longer willing to allow the 'losers of the modernization' in the highlands to block the path to globalization.... There is no solution in sight. It appears to be only a question of time until the military seizes the power in South America's poorest country."
ITALY: "Collapsing Bolivia Divides Europe and U.S."
Loris Zanatta wrote in Rome's center-left Il Messaggero (6/8): “There’s no use denying it, in Bolivia there’s a crisis of rejection of the West--a visceral reaction against the characteristics of its identity: market economy and representative democracy, as also in Venezuela and Ecuador, and possibly soon to spread to Peru.... Many in Europe and in Latin America are ready to celebrate the new prodigal son, the Bolivian Chávez who could stand up and avenge the suffering inflicted on helpless people by global capitalism.... In Washington, however, the single idea that an emulator of Caracas’ caudillo could take the reins of power in Bolivia generates nightmares and evokes phantoms: is Latin America, long neglected, becoming again a treacherous place for the West’s interests and values?”
RUSSIA: "A Swarthy-Faced Revolution"
Artur Blinov wrote in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (6/9): “The U.S. administration’s cautious reaction to current events in Bolivia contrasts with its preoccupation with democratization in the Greater Middle East and ‘color’ revolutions in post-Soviet republics. Apparently, Washington does not see South America’s leftward march as a sign of progress toward freedom and democracy. Its restrained reaction is due to a lack of clout. The United States has clearly lost control of the situation in South America.”
"Non-Violent Protest As Way To Solve Problems"
Sergey Strokan commented in business-oriented Kommersant (6/8): "Actions by Bolivian Indians are a vivid illustration of the U.S. president’s pet subject. All ’velvet’ revolutions, characteristically, have something in common, which shows in similar patterns of the behavior of people acting independently of each other. The Bolivian events show that the modern-day world has rediscovered non-violent protest as a way to solve problems, with legal mechanisms lacking or existing only on paper. But this doesn’t mean that George Bush is behind what is going on, as some seem to believe. It is just that the U.S. president’s aides have been able to sense that trend and, thinking pragmatically, decided to make use of it in the United States’ interests. Coming forward as the leader of nations taking their destiny into their own hands is a no-lose lottery for Mr. Bush, helping maintain his image as the man responsible for the rest of humankind. Indeed, as ‘velvet’ revolutions continue, the U.S. president will ride on top of the wave. Guessing where the next revolution will take place is an exciting and difficult job. Vast ‘grey zones’ or ‘black holes’ on the map of the world with morally defunct regimes provide an arena for future cataclysms. Knowing that makes it unimportant which of the regimes falls next."
AUSTRIA: "The Rebellion Of Those Left Out"
Senior editor Helmut L. Mueller commented in independent Salzburger Nachrichten (6/9): "The mood in Latin America has undergone a change. True, the continent formerly dominated by despots has for the most part returned to democracy. However, hopes that market economy reforms following the U.S. model could help the majority of the people to get out of their misery have remained unfulfilled. Instead, the social divide has become more accentuated; nowhere in the world is the gap between rich and poor as large as in Latin America. This undermines democracy. Those left out are trying rebellion. Numerous leftist governments have come to power. They increasingly display an attitude critical of the U.S., especially Brazil, which is striving to become a major regional power. President Lula, in his role as leader of the Latinos, does not hesitate to challenge Washington's political and economic ambitions. The reputation of the U.S. giant in Latin America has hit a new low. Mexico's President Fox has learned that, for the U.S., the fight against terror is trump. The Latinos have the impression that Washington is primarily concerned with its own economic advantage. The Latin American governments do not even like the U.S. ban of Cuba's despotic ruler Fidel Castro."
SPAIN: "Bolivia Falls Into The Abyss"
Conservative La Razon stated (6/10): "If the alliance among natives and coca growers continues with its revolutionary radicalism, and bothering the oil and gas industry, the future of Bolivia will take a path with a difficult end that won't benefit anyone except Chávez and Castro."
"Bolivia As The Metaphor of Latin America's Problems"
Independent El Mundo took this view (6/10): "What is happening in this country is the reflection of Latin America's evils and a mirror of what could happen in other nations, such as Peru or Ecuador, where social unease is growing and disappointment in political reform is increasing. In all these countries, such as in Venezuela, what has happened in the last few years is the collapse of the traditional political parties and their leaders.... The tandem that Chávez and Castro form is acting as the real focus of the export of a populist and revolutionary model fed with Venezuelan oil money. And it's in this context of social decrease that indigenous leaders can act as triggers of confrontation. There are no easy recipes for Bolivia, nor for Latin America, but experience shows that only a democratic solution...can help relieve the paralysis that is driving an 'Africanization' of the continent."
Left-of-center El País editorialized (6/8): "The problem in Bolivia is not about people. The Andean country imperatively needs to find a common ground between its poor indigenous majority and the minority of European descent that controls the resources of the fertile east. Without an agreement on abundant gas, the constitution, and regional autonomy, Bolivia rides on to become a failing state.... Chaos leads to the paralysis of positions, not to the calming of differences. This is the perfect breeding ground for tempting the Bolivian military, with an impeccable pro-coup tradition.... The reinvention of the country that nestles in the aspirations of indigenous communities...is, for the moment, utopian.... Such differing aspirations (of the two groups) demand the nonexistent strength of the state, and an exceptional dose of collective moderation that is also lacking in Bolivia."
"The Bolivian Crisis"
Centrist La Vanguardia argued (6/8): "Many observers see the hand of president Hugo Chávez behind the indigenous movement.... But it is certain that the Bolivian socio-political situation does not need too many external pyromaniacs in order to favor ignition. Bolivia...will probably need external help and advice and, in this sense, the OAS, whose assembly is meeting in...Fort Lauderdale at this moment, can and should collaborate to find a pacific way out of the crisis. But, of course, the forces united by...Evo Morales (leader of the Movement Towards Socialism-MAS), will have to go to the ballot boxes and respect their verdict."
"Bolivia, On The Brink Of Abyss"
Conservative ABC concluded (6/8): "Resignation by Bolivian President Carlos Mesa is the worst symptom of the extraordinary seriousness of the situation.... No matter who will assume the responsibility of leading the country, he will very likely have to choose between paying attention to the demonstrators who are asking for the nationalization of the gas industry, or using the force of the state in order to try to put order in the streets of the capital...if he is not able to persuade the parties to accept softening their positions for the sake of the common good of the country."
Left-of-center El País commented (6/4): "Bolivia is losing its way, although the conventional institutions of power continue to exist. With the president cornered and Congress nearly paralyzed, the convulsive Andean country rides through a wave of misgovernment in which the more relevant elements are incessant demonstrations, road blockades, strikes, and political resignations.... Mesa, an independent politician without a parliamentary base, confronts a mission all the more impossible because his role borders on being irrelevant.... A weak country such as Bolivia, without institutions able to articulate firm and democratic answers at the same time, cannot stand to be faced by such contrary political parties for much more time. Much more serious than Mesa's political survival is the risk that in this chaos the Bolivian military will present themselves once again as the saviors."
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