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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

Bolivian Bust-Up

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

They're protesting in the streets of Bolivia. One president is out, and another is on his way in. Ongoing protests have forced the resignation of President Carlos Mesa, and, with his Constitutional successor, Senate President Homrando Vaca Diez, prepared to assume the office, protesters are trying to force him out too--before he even gets in.

My interest in this story lies not in the protestors themselves, or even in the things that they want (there is widespread anger at U.S. backed economic policies known as "The Washington Consensus," all of which amount to a series of free-market reforms). Rather, my interest in this story is the irony. Here and elsewhere, a traditionally "un-democratic" country has been democratically reformed by the U.S., only to have an eventual disillusionment with U.S. policies lead to a very democratic renunciation of those policies. The people are taking matters into their own hands in order to reject (one protest leader openly said that they "would not allow" Vaca Diez to take office) the interests of the most democratic country in the world.

One must, on some level, conclude that the protesters are doing what they are doing largely because democratic reforms have enabled them to do it. Which brings us to the irony: within the borders of the U.S., the world's greatest democracy, citizens are taking things into their own hands less-and-less, and putting decisions into the hand of political and corporate "professionals" more-and-more.

I mean, think about that statement by the protest leader: "We will not allow them to take power." Under what circumstance can you imagine an American citizen, particularly an American citizen under the age of 35 swearing to "not allow" the government to do something--and be taken seriously by that government?

Please, tell me. I want to know.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 9:54 AM

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