Our Brand is Crisis

This weeks film entitled Our Brand is Crisis, is a documentary following the Campaign of former Bolivian president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada Sánchez Bustamante aka “Goni”. The film follows an American firm, led by the legendary John Carver, that specializes in foreign elections, as they do their job. Many times throughout the film there are scenes that show the inner processes of the political campaign that Latin American countries with diverse ethnic populations undergo. At the beginning of the film the results of Goni’s time in office are revealed, showing the political strife Bolivia saw because of his decisions in office. After this tragic event is shown, the filmmakers then show the actual footage of Goni’s political campaign, and how they worked to get him elected. The film’s name gives the best indicator on how the Goni’s campaign team viewed his chances of winning election. Knowing that Goni was already unpopular; they devised a strategy that depended on deviding Goni’s opposition amongst as many candidates as possible in hopes of winning the campaign. The American firm which advised Goni’s every move employed strategies such as dirty politics to achieve their goals.

The First reading which is chapter ten of John Chasteen’s Born of Blood and Fire: a concise history of Latin America; relates to this weeks film in multiple ways. One similarity the two share is that they both highlight the difficulties in sustaining political stability in Latin Countries due to the diverse populations that mostly all Latin American countries share. Ethnic groups such as African Americans, Spaniards, Portuguese, and Indigenous populations seem to always have conflicting views when it comes to how their countries should operate. The reading gives many examples of how the ruling classes in Latin Countries can simply exclude the poorer classes from the political process. The movie in correlation gives the answer to what occurs when this happens; which is revolution and/or political strife.

The second reading for this week entitled; “The Slow Death of the Washington Consensus on Latin America”, also gives better insight about the political forces that exist in Latin American Countries. Officials such as Goni who embrace opening trade in order to produce wealth for their countries have historically been met with challenges. While it seems that opening trade would produce “capital flows” for Latin countries; the reading suggest that only a few individuals actually benefit. Moreover, many times throughout history financial deregulation in Latin Countries seems to produce only failure. In Goni’s case by allowing free trade to take place he angered his citizens to the point of rebellion. Whether the country would have actually benefitted by this, Bolivian citizens were aware of the historical trends that followed when foreign investment was allowed to take place. To them it seemed as if Goni wanted to take away Bolivia‘s recourses for his own gain, rather than sell them for financial stability. Overall the fim and the readings gave an accurate perspective on the political forces driving Latin America.