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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Wednesday, February 11, 2004
 

A straw in the Bolivian wind?


Bolivia is - from my rather scanty researches - a fascinating country inadequately covered in the media (as so many are, of course).

But its particular significance was that, around the time of the resignation of the former President Sánchez de Lozada last October as a reult of popular revolt, it seemed that another revolution (the last was in 1952) was in the realms of possibility within the following year or so.

A Bolivian revolution would be the first in a Latin American country which is a significant, if subordinate, actor in the US' War on Drugs; and - from memory - the first in such a country since the end of the era of the military dictatorships in the continent.

It would be a challenge to Uncle Sam in his back yard; and offer a compare and contrast between the old style of revolution and a post-modern equivalent.

So much for the possibilities. The replacement President Carlos Mesa had Kerensky written all over him: don't take your coat off might have been the motto of his term in office! Whereas the forces of the street opposition (also represented in the legislature) had momentum, Mesa had - well, something akin to Joementum. He was an anti-politician, who rejected politics as usual - which returned the compliment in spades.

What he needed was a good dose of divide and rule. Fortunately, the opposition had already anticipated his requirements: the main leaders seemed keener to do each other down than do Mesa in.

An example, perhaps [1], in the 48 hour transport strike this week [2]. It looks as if there was dissent amongst the opposition on the issue, that the strike was not followed by independent drivers, especially taxis; that some drivers were forced to strike by their employers (!) ; that a rally called by the COB in support of the action produced an attendance of only three dozen or so.

If this is a country in a pre-revolutionary state, it's not apparent to me. (Not saying much, I'll grant you.)

(This is, of course, suggestive of why a story like this strike is not covered in the main anglophone media: the strike would likely qualify for inclusion as a news piece only as a precursor to revolution; but content of the story is that the revolution is less likely than might be expected, at least in the short term.)

  1. I've not been following the situation in Bolivia at all closely in the last month or so; I mention the story merely to compare with what had previously appeared likely if and when the opposition decided to go on the offensive. Perhaps it's a deliberate shambles designed to lull Mesa into false sense of security, such that, when the tightly drilled cadres take to the streets, he won't be prepared.

    But perhaps not...

  2. Reported all over - breaking news alert in excelsis! - La Prensa (February 11) has various pieces - you may need to go here. Also here and here - many others.


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