Insecurity, disenchantment and the economy: Javier Mille and the contagion effect in Bolivia

Insecurity, disenchantment and the economy: Javier Mille and the contagion effect in Bolivia
Javier Mille speaks at a campaign rally in Buenos Aires, Argentina.By Anita Bouchard Serra (Bloomberg)

Shortly before speaking to this newspaper by phone, Antonio Saravia, Las Ventas, posted a photo from the Madrid bullring with the message: “Bullfighting should never die.” The so-called “Bolivian Mille” is touring Europe rejoicing in Argentina’s primaries, where libertarian Javier Mille won his first majority. “Wonderful victory! The polls are not even jokingly putting him in that position! Trembling for everyone. The whole community is talking about this”, he says happily. The economist, who teaches at Mercer University in the United States, is one of the visible figures of Bolivian ultraliberalism, a phenomenon that has exploded on social media and, encouraged by Argentina’s example, tends to spill over into politics.

Saravia agrees with Millay on everything, and considers everything that the president of La Libertad Avanza recommends for Argentina to apply to Bolivia. “Mile wants to reduce the size of the state, which is very necessary in Bolivia. The state controls 80% of GDP here. It spends lavishly,” she says. She is pro-life “like most people”; she acknowledges that same-sex marriage is not allowed in Bolivia, and that human rights are about the well-being of others. Believes they’re tricks to get someone to pay. Milei feels that dollarization has already happened in Bolivia to prevent inflation in his country. “A fixed exchange rate anchors the Bolivian to the dollar,” he says. According to Saravia, the love of the dollar is a common feature of the collective psyche of Bolivians and Argentines.

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Not all libertarians share this latter view. Another cutting-edge economist, Mauricio Rios, who organized the Miley conference in Santa Cruz de la Sierra in January 2020, announced on a TV show that he was “skeptical” about the possibility of Miley dollarizing the third largest economy. Large in Latin. America “has only one silver bullet, dollarization. If it fails, it fails, and with it the ideas of freedom”, he worried.

Saravia, Rios and other libertarians have thousands of supporters on social media. In June, the former went on a “freedom tour,” a successful series of lectures across the country. They are staunch opponents of the government of the Movement for Socialism, but they clash with the opposition. They see their mission as a “battle of ideas.” “You should read Adam Smith,” suggests Rios. “In Bolivia, people are finally talking about liberalism; “The board is moving and the needle is turning,” says Saravia, but he doesn’t know if it will work in a free electoral will, as happened in Argentina. For Ríos, change must come from below, not the other way around. Meanwhile, ideas like water privatization or anti-feminism are unusually popular today. are enjoying

For pollster Julio Cordova, “the ingredients are given for the emergence of the extreme right in Bolivia.” First, there is the 8 to 10% of the population that rejects all “traditional” politicians, be they right or left. It is made up of middle class youth. In another study, Cordova found that the choice of these young people is no longer to get jobs in the state, which they find very difficult to obtain and ultimately unstable, or to join private companies with low wages and no vacancies. Now the general preference is to create a business where the government does not interfere, i.e. cannot collect taxes or enforce bureaucratic procedures.

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Another ingredient in the Ultra recipe, which represents Miley less than El Salvador’s President Nayeb Bugel, is the concern about insecurity, which is now the second most important concern of the population. At the same time, 55% of people want a strong leader who will remove the old politicians from power and protect the homeland and family. According to Cordova, the conditions for radical ascension are given, “whoever does not exist can create them.” Libertarian theorists seem too intellectual and elitist to do that in a country with a long tradition of statism but also a strong desire for change.

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