Our Brand is Crisis is a 2005 documentary, directed by Rachel Boynton, covering the crisis state of Bolivia during on ongoing election, and how the outcome continues the downward spiral. In the film, Goni is attempting to be reelected as president, but is unpopular due to his failures during his previous years. So, he hires a firm from the United States to help turn the people in his favor so he can win again. This movie documents what they did to win and the consequences of it.
A very interesting point which did not get very much attention was the instance where the firm was told by someone that their campaigning seemed “cold” to the people. It is well known by those who do their homework that Latin American culture is a lot different from the culture in the United States. While one of their goals in the campaign was to be straight to the point, like would be done here in America, it backfired there. Latin American culture is much more affectionate by nature. Mistakes like these are made commonly in cross cultural advertising, from household products to, in this case, presidential candidates.
As Americans, capitalism and free-trade is what we have built our world around. However, like one of the pollsters said in the film, “there are some things democracy can’t fix.” This was precisely the case in Bolivia, and many other countries like it. The American way of doing things, even our way of thinking, just would not work there. While here we push free trade, in such struggling Latin American countries “increasing poverty, stagnant or falling real wages, and a further and steady widening of the distribution of income,” are just a few of the consequences coming from pushing neoliberalism onto those who economically aren’t ready for it (Cypher 47). The people in Bolivia complained mostly of lack of things necessary to survive, that they needed more jobs, and also made a huge argument that they did not want to do business with Chile in regards to their natural gas. Ironically, Chile was one of the only countries to make progress from neoliberal free-trade. However, even there, “Chile’s distribution of wealth remained among the most unequal in Latin America. The best-case scenario of neoliberalism, in other words, still promised least to the neediest.” (Chasteen 316)
Also, it seemed a bit odd that they put so much stock into negative advertising toward other candidates. In America, that sort of thing does not seem to work. There, it also backfired. However, it was almost as if the firm helping Goni looked at the Bolivian people like they were stupid, not above dirty campaigning tricks like those and it would actually work. Obviously it is all a mind game when it comes to politics, they just presented themselves like they were playing this particular game with naive kids instead of adults worried about the survival of their country. Yes, they won the election… barely. But in the end, the damage that was done after, they lost. Badly.