The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, October 17, 2003

The Bolivian question: a tad closer to meltdown, it seems

The question, you'll recall (October 15) was whether the situation in Bolivia was such as to warrant the expenditure of effort needed to get up to decent speed on the issues involved.

In the interim, I've had, thanks to Instapundit, the benefit of the output of one or two bloggers who've been focused on what's been going on - Al Giordano comes it at from a distinctly engagé perspective, but with a refreshing level of detail, and properly sceptical of US media coverage. And a blog in English by Miguel, who, if I understand it right, is a resident of the San Miguel suburb of La Paz (photos of armoured cars, and troops with their M16s or equivalent), and who is following the crisis closely. And Newley Purnell, from Cuenca in Ecuador, has been keeping an eye on the situation: Giordano - not without a modicum of glee - suggests that Ecuador could be the next for popular revolt.

The wires are all reporting right now that President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada is on the point of resigning - as a result, Vice President Carlos Mesa will take over (Article 93 of the Constitution - I've started to dip a toe in Bolivian waters!).

What is far from clear is whether it lies within Mesa's power to resolve the crisis; and, if so, what the outline of a possible Mesa solution might look like.

The Big Mo is with darling of the Left Evo Morales (a Great Brown Hope to put Cruz Bustamante to shame!) - it's hard to think that he will be satisfied with a mere withdrawal of the natural gas export project (even if, financially, the circle could be squared without the revenues such exports would generate): the danger of being outflanked on the left, the sheer adrenalin of ousting a president, would surely militate against Morales' declaring victory and going home.

And what legitimacy or authority (the two key factors for any ruler, democratic or autocratic) will Carlos Mesa have? Is he another Alexander Dubcek or Bishop Abel Muzorewa?

On what comes next, the silence is pretty deafening.

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