LA PAZ – The populist government of Bolivian President Evo Morales seems to be heading for political failure. Faced with 11% annual price growth and mounting complaints from the country’s worst-affected sectors, Morales promises change, but delays decisions, leaving in place the policies that are stoking the problem.
Of course, economic common sense sometimes prevails, but it is usually short-lived. At the end of 2010, for example, the Morales government decided to eliminate fuel subsidies in order to reduce the fiscal drain of importing market-rate energy and selling it at prices that have not changed in ten years. But the decision was reversed within a week, because the groups that brought Morales to power took to the streets in protest. Morales then promised to “govern by obeying.”