Daily Archives: March 26, 2012

Bolivian government fits the ‘ineptocracy” mold

Andres Oppemheimer has written (for the Miami Herald) the following article and it fits nicely, unfortunately and embarrassedly enough our Bolivian reality:


Latin Americans complain of “Ineptocracies”



A new definition of bad governments is spreading fast on the internet: Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc’-ra-cy) — a system where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable to succeed, and where the least capable to succeed are abundantly rewarded with goods and services for electing the least capable to lead. [how powerful are the coca growers now? what about the bonuses given without proper financing and checks and balances?]

I have to admit that when I first read this definition in an e-mail from a Latin American friend who is in the financial business, it sounded a bit too right-of-center for my taste. I happen to believe that governments should play a significant role in helping the most needy get the tools — education, health and nutrition — with which to rise up from poverty.

But the fact that the term is gaining ground as a new addition to Latin America’s political lexicon is interesting in itself. I have heard many other definitions to criticize bad governments in the region — autocracies, hybrid democracies, and even kleptocracies — but this one seems to apply to all kinds of political systems in the region that can’t maintain security, provide decent education and health services, or provide other basic public services. [no public safety, poor and deficient education and health services in most if not all Bolivia?]

A recent survey by Latinobarómetro, a Chile-based group that does an annual poll in 18 Latin American countries, found that fewer than 40 percent of Latin Americans are satisfied with the services they get from their governments. Comparatively, nearly 80 percent of Europeans are satisfied with the services they get from their governments, says Latinobarómetro President Marta Lagos.

Polls show that Latin Americans are mostly concerned about their governments’ failure to reduce crime levels. Fifty-five percent of Latin Americans — including 71 percent of Guatemalans, 67 percent of Venezuelans, 61 percent of Mexicans and 60 percent of Argentines — believe that living in their respective countries is becoming “more insecure every day,” Latinobarómetro figures show. [Santa Cruz and El Alto are a sad reality with inept and clueless police force]

Economists say the big reasons behind some Latin American governments’ failure to deliver good services is a “negative vicious circle” involving taxes: people don’t pay taxes because they think their government will steal or misspend their money, and governments can’t provide good services because they can’t collect taxes. [unfortunately Bolivia holds now more smugglers, narco dealers and most our trade is being handled by informal business; on the other hand those groups who blockade our roads and streets are among the ones who pay little if any taxes at all!!]

According to World Bank estimates, Latín América — with some exceptions, such as Brazil — has some of the lowest tax collection rates in the world. Mexico’s non oil-related tax collection amounts to only 14 percent of its gross domestic product, and Argentina’s of 20 percent, whereas in some northern European countries the percentage is of 48 percent.

But Heraldo Munoz, head of the New York-based United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Latin American bureau, which has just published a book calling for more efficient governments in Latin America, notes that despite their little trust in government, Latin Americans want a bigger government role in public affairs. [bigger role in what is their natural role, let the private sector engage in productive ventures and control contraband, tax evasion and make sure the funding reaches the public not gets consumed by the bureaucracy, or should I say ineptocracy?]

“The state is back in Latin America,” Munoz told me. “As opposed to what happened in the 90s, where the marching order was ‘small government and big market,’ now there is a demand for a dynamic market, but a strong, more efficient government.”

So what do you recommend to make Latin America’s “ineptocracies” more efficient in fighting crime, providing better education, or offering good public services? I asked him.

Munoz responded that it will take a combination of political leadership and greater consensus strategies to carry out long-term policies that go beyond a particular government’s term. [I have serious doubts that current political party in government considers this important behavioral attitude towards their constituents]

“Governments want to do everything in four years, because they are under electoral pressures to show results,” Munoz said. “But to fix things such as citizens’ security you need long-term policies. There must be leadership to tell people the truth: that solving these problems takes time.” [here they are already six years in government, and plans to extend for a third illegal term!!! and with what results so far? no new jobs, no new value added and even no new findings on our natural gas reserves…]

My opinion: I agree. There is an urgent need for long-term consensus strategies to fix our biggest problems, not only in Latin America but in Washington D.C. as well. Political polarization and lack of long-term policies seems to be a universal problem these days.

In the case of many Latin American countries, one of the main characteristics of inefficient governments is that they try to start everything from scratch. [this government erased the Republic and intends to erase what we are; an absurd waste of time and resources, the cherry on top, the ‘museum’ in the little town where current president was born…]

Every new government sees itself as the new founder of the fatherland and undoes whatever it received from its predecessor, instead of building upon it, and trying to forge national agreements on key issues with the opposition. In the long term, little gets done, and people start seeing their governments “ineptocracies.” [this is our sad Bolivian reality, what worries me the most, is that out there there are still some Bolivians who fall for this charade, I don’t know if it is out of race origin or naiveté, or even ignorance and lack of analytical skills or common sense to see the type of government they are supporting]


Big thanks to Andres Oppenheimer for his analysis!