Our Brand is Crisis, follows the campaign and election process inBolivia and the aftermath that occurred. The country and the people were in turmoil and disagreement about what was best for their nation and for themselves, but they all agreed that something had to be done. Poverty was rampant and living was hard. As has been seen before, the issue of involvement from theUnited States was an issue. An interesting curve to the plot of this film was that aUnited States based company was aiding in the campaign of one of the candidates. This alone points to the interest that theUnited States had in how things turned out in the election.
Some people were in favor of “an inflow of foreign funds that would make up for the savings shortfall and energize the economy through renewed investment” (Cypher 49). Yet others wanted to stand on their own feet. James M. Cypher says in “The Slow Death of theWashington
Consensus on Latin America,” that a major misconception regarding “capital inflows” is that they are all “equally good and that importing what cannot be made best within a Latin American nation” is rational (Cypher 49). The problem with always looking outward for economic stability is that when that income is gone the nation is again left in dire straits and in a position of having to sell their own soul to survive. One bone of contention within the differing factions in the election and among their supporters was the issues facing the indigenous people. Their lives were most affected as they felt ignored by the government and lacking access to good jobs and incomes. Relying on “national economic development” through foreign investment placed their economy “hostage to the volatile and perverse whims of global financial markets” (Cypher 50). Looking to outside nations to build the economy fed into the devastation of the indigenous class of people. According to Born in Blood and Fire, the “gains” made by the country taking on the role of consumer was “overwhelmed by their loss as producers” (316).
In “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” John Perkins tells of his life as an EHM. He explains that purpose of the profession was “to encourage world leaders to become part of a vast network that promotesU.S.commercial interests” (xiv). Perkins further points out that the end results are that “leaders become ensnared in a web of debt that ensures their loyalty” (xiv). The film portrayed this sentiment somewhat in how the Unites States firm was behind a particular presidential candidate. Their intense involvement in the election and promoting their candidate definitely gave the impression that he was indebted to theUnited States. He did have ties to theUnited States, having lived there when he was younger. He even sounded American. The influence was undeniable.
As discussed in lecture, the securing of loans from other countries to further development was common in 1950-60’s. By 1980,Boliviahad $600 million in debt and was unable to repay it. That resulted in their inability to acquire further loans and put them in a position to have to sell off their public works to the highest bidder who was usually an international investor. Perkins sheds even more light on this process in explaining that it was his job to “justify huge international loans that would funnel money back to […] other U.S. companies” and then “work to bankrupt the countries that received those loans” (Perkins 17-18). The result would be that “they would be forever beholden to their creditors, and so they would present easy targets whenever needed favors including military bases, UN votes, or access to oil and other natural resources” (Perkins 18). Having defaulted “external debts” placedBolivia, as well asLatin Americaas a whole, “internationally bankrupt and isolated (Chasteen 313).