Wednesday, April 21, 2010

El cocalero

Evo Morales and the Populist Paradox - Project Syndicate:
According to his opponents, Morales is reproducing the tradition of caudillismo, concentrating power in his hands and turning government institutions into mere formalities. But his immense popularity over the past five years suggests that most Bolivians do not seem very worried in putting their country's democracy at risk. (...)

Thus, despite official speeches intended to support state intervention, Morales's government benefits mainly from the workings of the market. The failure of state plans and projects is overlooked because of the small but expanding internal market, which is invigorated by de facto economic liberalism involving the growth of smuggling and drug traffic. These illicit activities are not intended, but they increase the income of peasants, transporters, builders, and businessmen.

This is the paradox of twenty-first-century socialism: economic liberalism is the foundation for a policy that aspires to replace it. This might also be its greatest limitation as a political project.

And then I read the news (here in portuguese and here in spanish) that Evo Morales affirmed that human baldness - specially among europeans - and homosexuality are caused by the excess of feminine hormones given to farm chicken (calling them "transgenic"), and that dutch potatoes have fish hormones, which must be peeled to remove the excess of "poison"; he furthermore criticized Coca-Cola, western medicines and defended the use of traditional pottery. At least for the Coca-Cola quarrel, we know the reason. He wants the real thing:
A certain US soft drinks giant may disagree, but Bolivia has come up with a fizzy beverage it says is the real thing: Coca Colla. The drink, made from the coca leaf and named after the indigenous Colla people from Bolivia's highlands, went on sale this week across the South American country.

It is black, sweet and comes in a bottle with a red label - but similarities to Coca-Cola end there. One is a symbol of US-led globalisation and corporate might; the other could be considered a socialist-tinged affront to western imperialism.
Or he is already having too much of it.

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