By Edgardo Mocca (for Safe Democracy)

Edgardo Mocca criticizes the analysis made about the arrival in power of Evo Morales in Bolivia –and the application of nationalizing policies– which, in his opinion, have been done out of context without considering the immediate past of the country. In this light, the author looks diachronically at Bolivia, and explains why we have to be careful with the childish left and with the demonization and extortion insinuated from some neoliberal circles. South America needs a democratic and pacifist Bolivia, capable of maintaining its unit as a Nation. Mocca believes that the dialog is opened, and it seems to be the only pragmatic and effective current formula to preserve the democratic governability.

Edgardo Mocca is political scientist and professor in the Buenos Aires University. He works as advisor for the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Argentina.

MOST OF THE ANALYSTS who have focused on the new government of Bolivia – especially since the decision of nationalizing the hydrocarbons- have decided not to make any reference to the recent past of the country as a way of interpretative approach to the current reality.

Less than a year ago, its capital, La Paz was blocked and the accumulation of social, economic, ethnic, cultural and regional demands jeopardized the national unity in that country.

The presidential election seemed to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution because, as predicted, the result would confirm the fragmented political scenario and it would be impossible to reshuffle from that point a centre of political authority capable of creating some kind of order, considering the critical situation.

And that crisis with an enormous destructive power, was preceded by another democracy’s tremble in Bolivia: two years ago, in 2003, president S├ínchez de Lozada was obliged to abandon the government due to another wave of protests.

If an analyst starts from these references, he will somehow face a question: how after an apparent consolidation of democracy obtained through inter- political parties pacts — that in the eighties seemed to moved forward from the rebel, violent and instable past– the hell of national breaking up is showing again in the country?

From the mid-eighties, a democratic and pacifist regime was settled in Bolivia; the presidential successions, always traumatic until then, were resolved with a particular system of democratic pacts through which two of the three most influential political parties guaranteed the parliamentary majority that according to the constitutional law of the country were necessary in order to settle a new government.

It is easy to understand that political appeasement, and the tendency towards a centripetal functioning of the democracy, with the consequent decline of the radical oppositions, has enormous influence.

This kind of democracy based on inter-parties agreements, constitutes less than an ideal from an institutionalist point of view. Keeping in mind the successive collapses of democracy in the region during the sixties were attributed to the incompatibility between a democratic regime with a presidentialist order and a particular radicalism of the oppositions (especially from the left). Therefore, with a parliament prone to making agreements, and a political party system with no extremes to question appeared to be the formula for democratic consolidation in Latin America.

Nevertheless, the consensus and the negotiation ability are only a part of the democratic drama. The other key for this regime to work is the ability of parties and leaders to pacifically express and channel the social dissent, with total respect to the legal and constitutional proceedings.

In the nineties, the Bolivian economy and society were abruptly restructured through what was called pro-market structural reforms. The reform process obviously had winners and losers. The last began to recognized themselves as progressively less included in a political party system tending towards endogamy, which did not reflect the new problems of the biggest part of the population. In this case, the crisis of democracy did not come over due to the polarity in the fight between the parties, but as result of the incapability of the whole system to express the multiplicity of the social conflicts generated by the structural reforms.

The three parties which have ordered the Bolivian democracy since the eighties, have been virtually swept aside of the political scenario.

The Evo Morales’ government is the emerging force of that crisis. The nationalizing measure adopted is part of the programme of the new president, and is being carried out with total respect to the Constitution and laws of that country. The legal uncertainty of the agreements signed with foreign countries -without passing by the national parliament – shows the fragility of a decisional model which was praised by those that today criticize the populism of the Bolivian government.

South America needs a democratic and pacifist Bolivia, capable of maintaining its unity as a nation. The childish left –that pretends to see in the process that the country is living through the resurrection of the revolutionary winds of other times– shows the inability to comprehend the new realities.

But from the other side, the demonization and the extortion insinuated from certain neo-liberal circles may become in the self-accomplished prophecy of the political distabilization and violence.

The problems that nationalization caused to third countries of the region and of the world cannot be ignored; it seems that the dialog is opened and it seems to be the only pragmatic and effective formula to preserve the democratic governability in Bolivia and to consolidate the democracy in the region.

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