A Calamity Called Evo / 14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner

Evo Morales, president of Bolivia. (Flickr)
Evo Morales, president of Bolivia. (Flickr)

14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 24 January 2016 — Evo Morales has already served 10 years as president of Bolivia. He is the person who has occupied the post for the longest consecutive time since Simón Bolívar was inaugurated in 1825. He is in his third term. It will end in 2019.

It seems too little. He is not happy. He wants to be reelected when that date arrives. For him, generational change and the circulation of the elites sparks nervous laughter. He has called a referendum to be able to run a fourth time, which would put him in the presidential chair in 2025, and celebrating two hundred years since the inauguration of the Republic.

Then he wants to continue, and continue, and continue. It is very amusing to be president. He likes living in the Quemado Palace. He knows nothing of law, economics, history. He knows nothing about anything, except the infinite goodness of coca, a plant whose cultivation is increasingly widespread, to the sadness of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, the one who governs is his vice president, Álvaro García Linera, a Marxist professor, mathematician and sociologist with a hideous revolutionary past, who concerns himself with the official carpentry. Evo, meanwhile, shows off, plays football, avoids talking and greatly entertains himself.

There is something unhealthy about the need to rule that Evo exhibits. It is the living representation of the platonic idea of narcissism. He has twice amended the Constitution. If he wins the referendum he won’t have to update the text again. He will be able to be reelected indefinitely and will die in the royal bed, like the ancient monarchs.

Will he succeed? He should lose, but who knows. He has wildly increased public spending. When he came to power the government consumed 21.05% of GDP. Now it is 43.26%. It is the second highest per capita public spending in Latin America. The first is Ecuador (44.17%). Chile, the best governed nation in Latin America, dedicates 24.88% of GDP to this category.

That enormous public spending wouldn’t be so serious if the money belonging to everyone was handled honorably, but it isn’t. According to Transparency International’s Perception Corruption Index, Bolivia is a pigsty: its score is 35. In this cataloging, with anything under 50 the country is in very bad shape. Bolivia ranks 103 out of 175 countries, one of the worst in Latin America.

Bolivia is headed into a crisis. It will probably devalue its currency after the referendum. Like good populists, neither Evo Morales nor his vice president believe in economic freedom nor in the virtues of the market. They believe in Statism and cronyism, and have confiscated several key companies, subscribed to the fateful recipe of 21st Century Socialism, and, in collaboration with the Cuban security services, have not ceased to imprison their adversaries, exile them, and, once in a while, assassinate them.

When they came to power, Bolivia received a reasonable ranking on the Index of Economic Freedom from the Heritage Foundation. It was classified as “moderately free.” Today it is in the lowest ranks, and its economy classified as “repressed.” This is an infallible recipe for disaster. It is enough to review the list to confirm that greater freedom and openness corresponds to a better level of development.

But, in my judgment, the greatest damage has been in the institutional terrain and in the intimate fabric of the Bolivian nation. The multinational State is a stab to the idea of a republic of citizens equal before the law, united by constitutional patriotism, as Simón Bolívar claimed and as Victor Pas Estenssor tried to carry out with the unifying revolution of 1952.

Evo Morales returned Bolivia to the pre-Colombian period, as if that hostile and fierce world of ethnic remnant that had frequently made war had been a kind of peaceful confederation of beatific people.

He did not understand that the very idea of the Republic of Bolivia was the product of a modernity embodied in the dreams of Bolívar and Sucre, and not in the fantasies of Tupac Katari, inevitably erased from history by the insensitive European steamroller, as happened throughout the New World with indigenous cultures.

On February 21 we will know if this calamity called Evo Morales has an expiration date, or if he came to power to remain indefinitely. Very soon now.