The film Our Brand is Crisis documents the 2002 presidential election in Bolivia. Gonzalo “Goni” Sanchez de Lozada and his hired American campaign advisors were the main characters being documented in the film. Since Goni had previously served as the Bolivian President from 1993-1997, the people were familiar with his policies. Although his initial policies were not very popular, he somehow managed to win the election. Early in his second presidency, it became clear that Goni was not going to implement policies to benefit the people so violence and rebellion broke out. Most of the people felt as if these policies would only benefit outside countries. These factors ultimately led to Goni resigning as president only a year after being reelected. Similar political unrest can be seen throughout history within the rest of Latin America; most issues within the region can also be blamed on similar conditions.
Another country in Latin America that has had similar results with poor domestic policy decision making is Ecuador. According to Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins, Ecuador has implemented many policies that oppress the Ecuadorian people and benefit the United States. One president that took up for his people was Jamie Roldos in the late 1970s (166). After he put strict regulations into effect for Ecuadorian oil exports, the United States and their corporations became upset and began depicting Roldos as “another Castro” (182). Shortly after Roldos set in motion these regulations, he mysteriously died in a plane crash in 1981; many people believed the United States was really behind his death (182).
Goni’s governing methods and the United States’ ‘need’ to get involved with foreign nations can be related to slavery according to Perkins (242). This is a very good analogy because both circumstances leave people in poverty and misery. The film describes Ecuador as a land with many natural resources such as oil. If these resources were used properly, the needs of the Ecuadorian people would be met. The major problem is obviously involvement by the United States and their greed for money, which leads to explotation.
In John Charles Chasteen’s Born in Blood & Fire, the progress of Latin American nation states is described. Chasteen describes the movement away from nationalism and towards neoliberalism, an ideology very similar to capitalism (311). The problems Chasteen addresses are very similar to issues that Goni faced in Our Brand is Crisis. Both Goni and the new Latin American neoliberalism was and continues to be supported by the United States (312). In both situations, the poor suffer while corporations, political figures, and a small number of others profit from exploitation. A great example Chasteen gives is Chile and their economy. Although numbers have shown great improvement, the distribution of wealth is still at an unfair advantage for the rich (316).
These problems and foolish economic policies leaves modern day Latin America with dramatic similarities to the Latin America of 1870-1930s (317). The main problem with the Latin American economy is the allowance of United States interference. The big players in United States industry know no limits when it comes to capitalism. History has shown exploitation of humans has always been a characteristic of the United States dating back to its founding despite its attempt to ‘promote’ equality throughout the world. The visual evidence in Our Brand is Crisis should be enough evidence to solidify this in one’s mind. It is perplexing for one to understand how one nation can have so much of one of the world’s most valuable resources yet still have vast amounts of poverty.