Any presidential election that has a clear winner in sight is always regarded as less emotional than one in which everything is defined in the final count, vote by vote, where there is suspense up to the last minute of the game. If elections were treated as any other reality show, then the electoral contest of next October 12 in Bolivia would hardly attract attention, since everyone knows who will win with a high score. Perhaps, from this frivolous point of view, the only thing that really merits attention in the betting shops is to know by how much Evo Morales will win; by 40 or 50 points; or if he will beat his own 2009 record (64,2%).
But it is just as well that politics goes beyond this vision, that is habitual in the hegemonic press whenever their favourite candidate is losing. None of the opposition candidates will have enough votes to enjoy the screen quota that many would be delighted to give them. Neither the neoliberal aspirant who still claims himself as such (Tuto Quiroga), nor the undercover neoliberal disguised as a centrist (the multimillionaire Doria Medina), nor the centrist candidate camouflaged as a 21st century progressive (the former Mayor and former ally of MAS, Juan del Granado); none of these are able to present a credible opposition in the face of a project that has transformed the country from one end to the other.
In contrast to the lack of international interest in this election call, the Bolivian people are very aware and exited at what can happen in the election. For the social majority, a process of real change is at stake, an epochal change in this post neoliberal climate. In barely nine years of government with the Democratic and Cultural Revolution, one could symbolically affirm that Bolivia is enjoying its decade of gain after several lost decades. This winning decade really constitutes a winning epoch thanks to the consolidation of a new common understanding, one arising from within the country, neither imported nor imposed from outside; rather it refers to a common understanding of a “Bolivianized” epoch, forged from within, from its own episteme, in which Living Well (Vivir Bien) is proclaimed for all, without exceptions. It is a winning epoch that is by no means exempt from the contradictions and tensions inherent in a process of change. As Vice president Álvaro García Linera has often pointed out, it would be ideal if these tensions were always creative ones, allowing the process to move forward with new answers in response new questions that arise.
The landmarks attained in this period are countless, ever since the victory of Evo Morales which, at the end of 2005, took both friends and foes by surprise when he erupted with his political instrument (MAS), representing the plebeian majority which had been maintained in subordination during decades of neoliberalism and centuries of neocolonialism. The process began with a radical constitutional reform that gave rise, despite many obstacles, to a new constitutional charter that outlined the norms of coexistence for a social contract that is distinct from the one that was always imposed from above, ignoring those at the grassroots. Evo Morales took on an accelerated process of taking back strategic sectors that had been expropriated during the long dark neoliberal epoch that de-capitalized and bled the wealth of the country. The redistribution of economic surplus was identified as a necessary condition for redefining the new regime of accumulation. Little by little, the State ceased to be the old inherited Apparent State. Thanks to the non-negotiable defence of Bolivian natural resources as being of and for the Bolivians, a set of social policies are paying off the social debt of the past. For this process, led by Evo Morales, long term changes will only viable if the urgent needs of the people are resolved as fast as possible. Social suffering cannot and should not be met with patience.
Regarding exterior affairs, Evo Morales always understood that any internal process of change demands another form of insertion in the world; no internal transformation can be sustained unless it is combined with a new way to relate to the world, fully restoring the condition of sovereignty. In this sense, Evo Morales always had a courageous and decided attitude, as for example in the rejection of free trade treaties and bilateral agreements on investment and the objection to ICSID (International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, dependent on the World Bank). These measures have been accompanied by another key premise: only a vigorous supranational regional alliance can resist transnational capital. Therefore, Bolivia is anchoring itself in the Latin American South, as part of ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America), moving towards Mercosur (Southern Common Market), actively participating in UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) and CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), finally becoming the country that presides over the G77+China group, thus achieving progressively their political and economic emancipation.
This whole combination of advances, changes and improvements, of humanization and democratization of the economy, of repatriation of what is their own, of ennobling sovereignty, re-situating Bolivia in the world, this whole new paradigm under construction, is what justifies the fact that there is no uncertainly when the time comes to vote. Evo Morales will continue to govern with wide popular support because the majority has decided that this process must be irreversible, so that this winning epoch can last.
(Translated for ALAI by Jordan Bishop)
(Original published in Spanish at: http://blogs.publico.es/dominiopublico/11180/evo-morales-y-la-epoca-ganada-en-bolivia/)