December 28, 2005
Bolivia's Stubborn Insistence on Bungling
In the presidential election of Dec. 18, half of all Bolivians voted
for the coca growers' leader, Evo Morales, a consummate neopopulist
on the same political wavelength as Hugo Chávez and Fidel
On the ticket
with Morales, as vice president, was a former guerrilla who in
the 1990s went to prison for taking up arms to try to destroy
the fragile democratic system holding the country together.
campaign, the now president-elect promised the immediate na tionalization
of the nation's energy resources and communications. He also said
his election would convert him into a nightmare for the United
States. He will no doubt deliver on both promises.
beliefs -- statism, state intervention, collectivism, rejection
of the market economy and trade openings, protectionism, nationalism
and anti-Americanism -- are very much appreciated in that convulsed
portion of the planet.
We are witnessing,
then, another revolutionary adventure of the many that this troubled
continent has experienced this past century, ever since the Mexicans
in 1910 engaged in a bloody civil war that didn't end until almost
two decades later.
shadings contributed by Morales are his defense of the cultivation
of coca for national consumption and a vigorous racial commitment
to the Quechuas, Aymaras and Guaraníes, all of whom probably
account for a majority of the national census.
fail, of course, just the way Perón, Velasco Alvarado and
the Sandinistas failed, and as Chávez, Castro and the rest
of the indefatigable revolutionary mob, to the left and right
of the ideological spectrum, will fail. The revolutionaries always
wind up in a major disaster because the political premise from
which they start is wrong.
was learned and confirmed countless times throughout the 20th
century, it was that development, general prosperity and social
harmony are consequences of juridical security, the market, freedom
to produce or consume, education and investments and international
interaction of those factors over a long period -- 15 to 30 years
-- under a reasonable rule of law, establishes a propitious climate
for the creation of enterprises capable of generating profits,
safeguarding savings, making investments and multiplying ad infinitum
the cycle of development.
some variants, is the economic history of Spain, Ireland, Chile,
Taiwan, South Korea and the rest of the countries that have managed
to leap into prosperity, substantially reducing their levels of
those examples have nothing to do with the climate of abuses,
violence and arbitrariness that characterizes revolutionary governments,
which are stubbornly insistent on finding a shortcut to a success
that exists only in the fevered machinations of their ideological
revolutionaries not only flout experience and reality but also
lunge obstinately against the very essence of the model of state
they conquered, whether by force or by votes.
is that the Latin American republican model for the founding of
our nations -- very much influenced by the United States -- was
conceived to guarantee property and individual rights by means
of powers that balanced each other and by clear limits to official
was a form of institutional architecture at the service of Free
Man -- the great protagonist of history -- and it opposed the
noxious revolutionary superstition that justice, equity and progress
depend on the actions of an exceptional and generous person who
makes all important decisions in the name of a passive plural
entity called ``the people.''
will Latin American societies continue to repeat the same blunder?
It's hard to tell, but the symptoms indicate this suicidal behavior
is a characteristic practically inherent in the formation and
information that the Latin American specimen receives from the
cradle on up, something that condemns him to make mistakes incessantly.
head is full of errors, one will predictably act erroneously.
Bolivia seemed to be the least promising terrain for another walk
down the revolutionary path, but that assumption was wrong. In
1952, the country went through a bloody and profound social revolution,
paid for, years later, with a humongous mess and an annual inflation
rate of 50,000 percent.
Víctor Paz Estenssoro -- the leader of that revolution
and its finest political leader -- returned to power, having learned
his lesson and ready to submit to the dictates of common sense.
That enabled him to put the nation on the right track, in the
direction of countries that manage to escape underdevelopment.
however, have chosen to insist on bungling. Inevitably, they'll
come to a sorry end.