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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

Beatrice Rangel: Is Bolivia Treading a New Path to Democracy?
After correctly predicting the outcome of Bolivia's presidential election last week, former Venezuelan Minister of Ministers Beatrice Rangel tells us what lies ahead for the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

By Beatrice E. Rangel

Most Latin American observers have called victory for Evo Morales in the aftermath of elections in Bolivia where his party MAS won by landslide.

This however seems to miss part of the very complex picture that is quietly emerging from that development. Indeed, throughout the whole campaign period Mr Morales was holed to the past stripping him of any significance for the future by his party.

This seemed to be the right strategic move, as MAS was building Luis Arce's leadership.

But as the party was called winner and MAS began to prepare for government the policy not only was upheld but nurtured as many party leaders publicly hailed the advent of a new leader that was to "enhance democracy while solidifying economic progress."

Then there clearly is a delay in clearing Mr Morales' legal situation. This entails fast tracking the investigations initiated by the Attorney General against Morales for "subverting institutions and debasing national wealth."

But when asked about the state of the investigation by international media, MAS leadership indicated that they ignored the stage of investigation. Further, Mr Morales is in Argentina and has flown to Caracas -- not to La Paz.

This clearly indicates he is facing headwinds in his country and inside his party.
And as time goes by Mr Morales seems to see his constituency weaken every day. He thus needs all the support he can get from his partners in crime: Cuba and Venezuela.

These two nations astutely identified the winds of change that were beginning to blow in Bolivia to ride them and penetrate the government that emerged from the people's aspirations to live in a more inclusive society.

In Bolivia the overwhelming majority of the population is descendant from the great Aymara and Quichua nations. But they had never ruled the country ever since Pizzaro arrived in what today is Peru.

Two democratic leaders planted the seeds of economic opportunity and inclusion. These were Victor Paz Estenssoro and Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada.

Their legacy nurtured the growth of middle classes while giving education an important stimulus. As growth proceeded, Bolivian middle classes no longer are direct descendants from the Spanish conquerors but from the Tiwanaku Empire.

And they dreamed diversity. This dream was easily hijacked by Mr Morales who had become a leader of the coca producing peasants and key ally of the interests of Transnational Organized Crime that had already set shop in Cuba and Nicaragua and was about to take over Venezuela.

Mr Morales' leadership was supported and accepted by the majority of Bolivians for a while. His election coincided with a worldwide commodity boom that sent minerals and cereals prices to the roof. These are Bolivia's export staples. Mr Morales thus simply acceptably managed the economic boom. But when it ended people began to realize that they had paid a high price for the apparent wellbeing: freedom had been kidnapped. And they organized to achieve two things: get rid of Mr Morales while keeping democratic gains.

Today they have elected Mr Arce as the person they identify with economic progress. But the people clearly are rejecting Morales.

This sheds a ray of hope over Bolivia and Latin America because it means that the Bolivian democracy has matured and is ready to support institutions over "caudillos". vAnd this truly is inspiring.

Both Latin America as well as the USA should embrace Mr Arce into the democratic family and help him lead his country successfully into a freer post-Morales Era.

Beatrice Rangel is President & CEO of the AMLA Consulting Group, which provides growth and partnership opportunities in US and Hispanic markets. AMLA identifies the best potential partner for businesses which are eager to exploit the growing buying power of the US Hispanic market and for US Corporations seeking to find investment partners in Latin America. Previously, she was Chief of Staff for Venezuela President Carlos Andres Perez as well as Chief Strategist for the Cisneros Group of Companies.

For her work throughout Latin America, Rangel has been honored with the Order of Merit of May from Argentina, the Condor of the Andes Order from Bolivia, the Bernardo O'Higgins Order by Chile, the Order of Boyaca from Colombia, and the National Order of Jose Matías Delgado from El Salvador.

You can follow her on twitter @BEPA2009 or contact her directly at BRangel@amlaconsulting.com.

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