Our Brand Is Crisis

It is amazing to see what money can do to a country. In the film Our Brand Is Crisis, a documentary film directed by Rachel Boynton, money plays a key role in the political issues. The documentary follows Goni, a Latino who was raised in the United States now running for his second presidency in Bolivia. During Goni’s first term he transitioned the country into a capitalist economy. His country needed money and foreign investors were willing to invest in the cheap labor and resources that were made available to them. Unfortunately, the people of Bolivia did not feel like Goni delivered the results he promised. Goni decides that he will run again, and he employs the help of an American marketing team.
James M. Cypher states in his article “The Slow Death of the Washington Consensus in Latin America” that “Increasing poverty, stagnant or falling real wages, and a further and steady widening of the distribution of income in virtually every nation has also become the omnipresent and largely ignored social context of the neoliberal era” (Cypher 47). In the film, during his first term, Goni set up a capitalist economy that encouraged foreign investment which brought more money into the country. The money did not benefit all people and caused some to lose jobs. The foreign investment in labor caused the government to keep labor wages low in order to keep investors interested.John Charles Chasteen states that “low labor costs constitute the maquiladoras’ main reason for being in Latin America. So neoliberal governments try to hold wages down, even as food and transportation subsidies are withdrawn from the poor” (Chasteen 315). It is amazing that government leaders chose to make decisions that were not in the best interest of the people. The leaders assumed that “all capital inflows are equally good,” regardless of the consequences (Cypher 49).The maquiladora type plants were key to the areas success in creating investment, but in some areas there was the threat of companies seeking out Asian options instead. This is similar to Goni’s decision to trade gas with Chile instead of what the Bolivian people wanted.
The marketing agency that was helping Goni in his election seem to have had the best interest of Bolivia in their plan. Unfortunately Goni was a man who did what he had to do to get elected and then decided what was best in his mind. Capitalism works very well in the United States because of the economic stability there is here. In many Latin American economies the government is trying to fund the country by incurring large amounts of debt which leaves the country dependent on investments that are not always in the best interest of the people. This makes the people very bitter towards the foreign investors. In John Perkins “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” Perkins states that “Like U.S. citizens in general most MIAN employees believed we were doing countries favors when we built power plants, highways, and ports. … Over the years I have heard comments like, ‘If they are going to burn the U.S. flag and demonstrate against our embassy, why don’t we just get out of their damn country and let them wallow in their own poverty?’” (Perkins 19). This quote ultimately sums up the issues at hand: a government in need of funds and foreign investors willing to invest, unfortunately the people are not happy with the results of the economy. What is a democracy without its people?
Ultimately it seems like the people of Latin America are screwed. Their government cannot help them because their economy is not stable, and there is no monetary solution for the countries who have incurred billions of dollars (well pesos) in debt. The title of the film, and the campaign slogan is rightly named, crisis is the name of the game.