Have Bolivians lost faith in Evo?

Let me just do a quick post now that I hope to follow up later today with posts on my observations in Cochabamba and the story of my epic mountain biking trip yesterday that went wrong and left us stranded in a strange and treacherous landscape after dark (don’t worry, mom and others worried about me, I’m fine).

I just read an excellent post on Bolivia by Jim Schultz at the Democracy Center and I wanted to echo one of his key points. It’s easy and not inaccurate to view Bolivia in class terms, with the ruling class in Santa Cruz and other wealthy department fighting the movement toward socialism of President Evo Morales and his MAS party. But Morales is now facing challenges and opposition that are much more broad than that.

I’ve made a habit of asking people I meet what they think of Evo, and after collecting dozens of answers, I see the patterns that Schultz talked about. Many people who voted for Evo are disappointed in him. Billboards and television all over the country tout the message “Evo Cumple,” which means that he is delivering what he promised. But many of his former supporters don’t believe it, instead seeing a government that is inept and a president who unnecessarily picks fights and launches ideological crusades rather than working to bring the country together and improve the lives of Bolivians.

Perhaps the problem is that people’s expectations are so high and the challenges facing the country are insurmountable in the short run. But if Evo is to succeed, he is going to have to find a way to create a more effective bureaucracy (rather than one that chases away good people, some of whom I have met) and to foster a dialogue with his political opponents that offers some hope of a national reconciliation. And he needs to do that without losing the support of his base in the social movements, which is not an easy feat.

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4 Comments

  1. Dear Steven,

    Just a note. I live in the country a few km from Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Santa Cruz is the so-called rich department of big SUV’s. It is only rich, PERHAPS, by comparison to the western part of Bolivia. If we are rich, then rich is:

    -A 1997 Pathfinder with who knows how many miles on it.
    -No hot running water in our house
    -unpaved street in front of our house and a bone-jarring ride to the highway
    -No central heat in the house,
    -etc. etc.

    Now, I want you to know I am not complaining. I love life here. I just find it interesting how often Bay Area elites who have 10 times the assets and income of those rich people in Santa Cruz criticize the Crucenos. Tell the truth.

    Can people not aspire to a 1997 used car? Do the US leftist elites really require equal opportunity dirt poverty? As long as someone is poorer, does the playing field really have to be levelled to the lowest point? Why do you elites only tolerate such thinking – no, encourage it – only in someone else’s country?

    Reply

  2. I agree with Ron. YES we have lpst faith in EVO: To Bad, as we thought he could be a posiitive figure for Bolivia. What has screwed Evo up, is Venezuela plus his vice President and Ministers. Long live Bolivia FREE and may we have hope.
    Cochabamba, Bolivia

    Reply

  3. I agree with Ron. YES we have lpst faith in EVO: To Bad, as we thought he could be a posiitive figure for Bolivia. What has screwed Evo up, is Venezuela plus his vice President and Ministers. Long live Bolivia FREE and may we have hope.
    Cochabamba, Bolivia

    Reply

  4. I been here in Bolivia for 6 weeks now and had a gutful of the Evo Cuumple ads. Having said that I can see both side of the coin here – one a government with an aggresive plan of social change which is trying to implement far too quick. The other, with the people feeling frustrated with their economic plight and wanting change now.

    Unfortunally for Evo he made far too many promises which he will find it very difficult to fulfil. With the world economy in a downward slide the odds are against him.

    Reply

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