The harm of the least-worst in Bolivia?

When you hear or read about what goes on in other countries fighting for water or land rights, it is rarely made clear that this is what will happen to more Americans. More Americans will learn that water will be priced out of reach of most people, water fountains will be replaced with commercial soda dispensers (the soda made with water that was hoarded or taken away from the public as Coca-Cola does in India), the land made uninhabitable (through nuclear or biochemical “accidents”) or unaffordable to the vast majority of the population. We don’t see how privatization of natural resources and collectively owned public resources can harm us. We also don’t see who pushes for these moves to privatize — the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Along these lines, today’s Democracy Now! has an interesting message for Americans with regard to voting for people versus voting for policies from Marcela Olivera, Bolivian researcher and activist who works at the Democracy Center in Cochabamba. She was a member of the Coalition in Defense of Water and Life that organized a popular uprising against the privatization of the Cochabamba water system by Bechtel and the World Bank. Last year she worked with Public Citizen in Washington to develop an Interamerican water activist network. A rough transcript of part of her interview follows (starting at 31m19s, emphasis mine):

“Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada is a very symbolic person for us because he represents all the policies that were coming to my country from the World Bank and the IMF, you know, he’s the guy who sold, for us, all our companies, all the state companies, who sold all the natural resources, who killed people in the streets without any feeling about that. So this guy represents, for us, the model that [husband?] posed in Bolivia and other Latin American countries.

I think when people kicked him out from our country we were feeling that we were kicking out all these policies too. But at the same time, you know, even thinking that this guy is a symbolic guy for us, I don’t think that the angriness of the people are focused on just one person. I think it’s all the political parties in our country that were doing — doesn’t matter who is in power, who political power is running the country, you know, the political policies that come from them are exactly the same. The names change, but the policies are exactly the same. So it’s all these political parties that belong to these old [?] in Bolivia and all the angriness of the people are against them, it’s not just one person or one political party in singular, it’s all of them and I think that was perfectly reflected on the streets in Bolivia.”

Perhaps it is time we recognized that it is not the candidate’s personality that matters, or how they look on camera, but what policies they endorse, how they want to implement those policies, where their campaign funds come from, and what their political history is.