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9/1/09

Bolivia has its Sarah Palin moment

even the 'tache looks silly

Remember back in 2008 when that crusty McCain character chose Sarah Palin as his running mate for the US Presidential elections? At first it was a bit of a showstopper, then suddenly McCain was polling close to level pegging with The Hawaiian for the first (and as it turned out only) time. But then....well....then reality set in. As the novelty of Palin quickly wore off it was clear that McCain had basically thrown away his chances on someone that carries more baggage than a bellhop at the Ritz. Loved by hardcore Republicans and unelectable by normal people, the choice of Palin for Veep is now writ large in the book of tactical mistakes by politicos.

And thus last night Bolivian opposition candidate for the Presidency, Manfred Reyes Villa (photo above) presented his running mate for the December 6th vote, Leopoldo Fernandez. If that name sounds familiar, he's the prefect (aka governor) of the Pando region arrested as being the brains behind the Sept 11* 2008 Pando Massacre. Currently still on remand in a La Paz prison cell, Fernandez has joined Reyes Villa on a ticket that both hope will unite the opposition against President Morales.

Fat chance. When I first heard of Reyes Villa's pick for Veep this morning it was a difficult choice between cheering and laughing. Cheering because with this it's clear the opposition is done for. This choice of Fernandez means that the attempted opposition alliance that has for the last few days been trying to reach agreement and finding a single candidate to face Morales has failed miserably. It means the opposition will be fielding multiple candidates. It means they're plug stupid and have not a snowball's in hell of getting even close to Evo.

And I was laughing because I was thinking "Is that all you got, nutbars?". The great hope of the anti-Evo brigade now lies with two old hand politicos that have close historical ties with previous military dictatorships and all the muck that goes with them. Reyes Villa couldn't even keep his own job this time last year, as he was voted out of the Cochabamba prefect's job by a score of 35% for and 65% against him. His running mate, locked away in jail awaiting his day in court, has been in charge of the unpopulated and highly corrupt drug-running region of Pando and ruled via quasi dictatorship all this time. Just another tired old far-right racist that couldn't see the world changing around him and tried to suppress said change via hired gunmen and bullets sprayed at indigenous protestors.

In the comments section of this post last week (the one with the recent polling numbers), reader MyC left this comment which had merit to it:
"....the solution to that would be a strong centre-right (it will claim to be center left but will be center-right) opposition candidacy of Doria Medina, along with people who are willing to negotiate with the next Evo government for Bolivia's benefit, not that of the displaced or up and coming elites. and willing to enforce the law against their erstwhile political allies"
I replied at the time like this:
"Fair enough MyC, but a 'strong centre right' doesn't just appear out of thin air. For such a thing to happen the people that are currently on the right will have to stop their separatist flights of fancy, disalign themselves with the extremist racist tendencies and start listening and responding to all the electorate, not just the section of it that thinks it has divine right of rule.

Or in other words, until they get real you'll have a fractured opposition that looks very much like the shambles up against Hugo in Vzla. Or in two words: Evo wins."
And that has simply been confirmed by the Reyes Villa/Fernandez ticket today. Bolivia's opposition is living in the stone age and has no concept of the world around them. If they stopped preaching to their own converted and listened to the wants and needs of the whole country they might be able to put together a credible alternative to Evo. But until then they're just a bunch of reactionary fools with zero chance against a popular man doing a good job for his country....all his country, not just the light-skinned parts of it. The pick of Fernandez to run with Reyes Villa is Palin for Veep parte dos and will finish in the same trainwreck. Pandering to its own hardcore will consign the present political opposition in Bolivia to the dustbin in the same way that the choice of Palin and the step towards the hardcore GOPpers in the USA made the whole party unelectable there.

* Seriously, what is it with that date? Allende in Chile, twin towers, Pando...

UPDATE: Check out T'anta Wawa and her take on the Fernandez Veep story. She knows her Bolivia.