Our Brand is Crisis

The film “Our Brand is Crisis” monitors the election and campaign of Goni (Gonzalo Sanchez De Lozado) under the control of American firm GCS vs. Evo Morales (seen as a man of the people) and several others in Bolivia.  James Carville and his compatriots are able to get Goni re-elected through smear campaigns and other American campaign tactics, though his term as President is cut short.  The film truly shows the damaging effects of US involvement in Latin American countries economically and politically, as self interests outweigh that of the nation in which needs help (in this case Bolivia). 

This mirrors the article by John Perkins and the EHM’s (Economic Hit Men), and the United State’s pressuring of other countries to bend to their wills.  This is evident with the California comment made in the film, about selling natural gas through privatization or “capitalization” to California.  The EHM’s goal is to essentially “cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars”.  This “cheating” was then carried out economically in similar fashion to American interests in Africa and abroad (Washington Consensus. James Cypher), by using the IMF and World Bank as a means of creating debt in one country, and a fortune in another, whilst also causing the indebted country to become a quasi-vassal of the U.S.  By loaning other countries money for infrastructure and the like, American companies are able to loan the money to the country, which is then paid back to American firms (who, according to the deal are forced to used American engineers, etc) to create the Airports, roads, schools, etc.  Then the money is set at a high rate of interest, thus resulting in an ever increasing national debt (the money loaned to them is never re-invested in the economy, but simply funneled through various U.S. channels and companies).  The evils of this strategy have been recognized by World Bank chief Economist George Stiglitz, who insists, “neo-liberal economics is nothing but ideology masquerading as defensible, even irreproachable, economic science,” and yet, even with this realization, no steps are being taken to prevent this imperialistic method of global commerce.  By running the pipeline through Chile (Bolivia’s cultural enemy) this creates violence and protest in the streets of Bolivia and an upheaval, resulting in Goni’s resignation and exile to the United States (in addition to his failed policies and his separation from the pulse of the Bolivian people).

 Goni himself was an American born “gringo”, being placed into power by an American campaign company.  The GCS also seemed to be grotesquely under informed on the policies Goni wished to implement on the people of Bolivia, in addition to the connotations of such decisions (such as the animosity between Bolivians and Chileans, as exemplified in their focus groups).  By going off campaign formula, they are still able to get Goni elected with far less than a majority vote (22%), and are then faced with having to increase his popularity while in office through focus groups, but to no avail.

This film parallels the readings in showing the inefficiency of U.S. involvement in Latin American politics, as well as the imperialistic attitudes taken by the U.S. Government when involving global economics.  It would appear that, if continued, the U.S. will create an imperialistic nation destined to fall, while the countries and the people it has used as elevation falter and continue to spiral into complete destitution.