Monday, January 09, 2006

Morales (anticipation)

A week or so ago, Glen nudged me to comment on a recent speech by Bolivian present-elect Evo Morales, translated as "I Believe in the Power of the People".

Evo MoralesFor the moment, though, this is just a placeholder.

And a link, first, to the original text, "Bolivia, el poder del pueblo", as well as to another translation of this same speech, courtesy of the Center for Media and Democracy.

Second, James Painter's analysis for the BBC, "Bolivia in for a bumpy ride", is a good enough general account of the situation.

Third, a clutch of bloggers: "A New Path for Bolivia", by Jim Schultz of Blog from Bolivia; "My Thoughts on Evo", by Miguel Centenellas of Ciao!; some reflections from Miguel Buitrago of MABB; and "Bolivia: A Democratic Revolution--or some other kind?", by Matthew Søberg Shugart of Fruits and Votes.

Finally, a link to a piece by James Petras, "Evo Morales: All Growl, No Claws?", which offers a rather more pessimistic prediction of Morales's future trajectory than others have provided.

Petras, a stalwart of publications such as the Monthly Review, is consistently the voice of ultra-left more-radical-than-thou commentary on Latin American politics. He's not particularly reliable. Still, it's worth quoting what he says:
All the data on Evo Morales' politics, especially since 2002, point to a decided right turn, from mass struggle to electoral politics, a shift toward operating inside Congress and with institutional elites. Evo has turned from supporting popular uprisings to backing one or another neo-liberal President. His style is populist, his dress informal. He speaks the language of the people. He is photogenic, personable and charismatic. He mixes well with street venders and visits the homes of the poor. But what political purpose do all these populist gestures and symbols serve? His anti-neo-liberal rhetoric will not have any meaning if he invites more foreign investors to plunder iron, gas, oil, magnesium and other prime materials. [. . .] Unfortunately, the Left will continue to respond to symbols, mythical histories, political rhetoric and gestures and not to programmatic substance, historical experiences and concrete socio-economic policies.
And for context, here's an older article by Petras on Bolivia: "Bolivia: Between Colonisation and Revolution". Well, vamos a ver, as they say. I'll return to this.

But while I'm at it, here's David Raby on Petras on Chávez: "Venezuela: The Myths of James Petras".

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