Our Brand is Crisis

This documentary chronicles the days leading up to the 2002 Bolivian elections.  It follows the campaign of Gonzalo (Goni) Sanchez de Lozada and the campaign strategists he hired to help win him the election.  Interestingly Goni had been elected president once before and was largely unpopular with the Bolivian people.  Although he managed to win reelection, he was pushed out only a year later due to his violations of human rights and democratic principles.  Being a Bolivian raised in the U.S. he hired an American consulting firm, GCS, to run his campaign.  The first problem I see with this is the fact that an American campaign team is brought in to execute a successful election in Bolivia, a country where politics, government, and culture are extremely different.  Throughout the film the GCS representatives maintained a position that they were supporting a candidate they truly believed in and that would be beneficial to Bolivia.  What they meant was beneficial to the U.S. and its massively exploitative corporations.

The deregulation of capital flow and the elimination of import tarrifs, originally in place to encourage national economic growth, is really only beneficial to the foreign buyers and companies that have the means to take advantage of the situation.  As Chasteen writes, this initial influx of foreign goods allowed people access to “internet, tune in via satellite to U.S. or European television, and become avid consumers in a transnational economy” (315), but it this really worth massive job losses and wage reductions?

James Cypher discusses in his article that ten years after the creation of the “neoliberal, free-trade, “market-friendly” policies of orthodox neoclassical economics have become the norm in virtually every Latin American nation” (Cypher 47).  These policies have only led to the ever-widening gap between the poor and the wealthy, falling wages and a decrease in quality of life for the poor.  These policies were created supposedly to help Latin American countries to better the economies and relieve their debts, but in actuality it merely used their need for financial support to further their own economic gains and keep them increasingly dependent and indebted to use at their disposal whenever needed.

Goni and GCS were excellent example of this strategy.  By oragnizing focus groups and polls, they were able find out the real concerns, needs and wants of the people.  Because Goni was so unpopular, they manipulated the people by making empty promises and playing into the economic fears of the people.

What is most disgusting about Goni is that he still has yet to answer for the murders of 67 Bolivian people.  He has yet to be extradited back to Bolivia to face justice, and since he is a wealthy citizen of the U.S. i find it highly unlikely that he ever will.