Bolivia: Evo Morales on the Daily Show

According to the Comedy Central channel's website, last Tuesday evening's guest would only be the 2nd sitting president to appear on the comedy fake-news program. In late 2006, the President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf would appear and was interviewed by host Jon Stewart. Bolivian President Evo Morales, who was in New York City for the United Nations summit, took the opportunity to appear on the television program that is largely unknown to most Bolivians. Blogs like Comunica Bolivia [ES] provided a bit of background information about the program in anticipation of the appearance. However, the clip soon appeared on video sites such as Google video, YouTube and on the Daily Show's own website, allowing Bolivians and Bolivian bloggers to follow along and give their verdict.

Unlike Musharraf, Morales does not speak english and was aided by the use of translator. However, many noted that many of Stewart's jokes became lost in translation and that Morales took the interview way too seriously. Jose Andres Sanchez of El Pais de las Maravillas [ES] provided a translation of the transcript. Soon after the clips and transcripts appeared online, many bloggers provided their own thoughts.

The blogger Alkolica [ES] didn't buy Morales description of his own administration:

y puedo decir que a pesar de ser una pequeña entrevista, recibio bastante apoyo de la audiencia, sus respuestas fueron directas, humildes, llenas de verdad (nada que ver con la realidad actual) evo debe saber que se consigue mas con miel que con hiel de las personas, por primera vez, escuche hablar de la diversidad cultural, en un momento de la entrevista se refirio al anfitrion diciendole que en bolivia tambien tenemos rubiecitos, y que todo se trata de vivir en nuestra diversidad cultural, llevando la Paz, y que por favor no lo consideren DEL EJE DEL MAL, refiriendose a chavez y a castro, que todas las naciones deberian unirse para luchar y salvar a la humanidad, …. si eso fuera verdad yo estaria llena de orgullo en este momento….

Even though it was a short interview, (Morales) received a lot of support from the audience, his answers were direct, humble and full of truths (however, it had nothing to do with the current reality). Evo should know that you accomplish more with honey than with bitterness, for the first time, I heard him talk about cultural diversity, and at one moment during the interview he referred to the host saying that in Bolivia there are also light-skinned people and that we should try to live our cultural diversity in peace and that please do not consider him part of the axis of evil, referring to Chavez and Castro, and that all of the nations should united to fight and save humanity…it that was true then I would be full of pride at this moment.

At one point during the interview, Stewart read three of Morales’ campaign promises, which includes the nationalization of hydrocarbons, calling a Constitutional Assembly and agrarian reform that he is said to have delivered. Sarcastically, Stewart asked, “what are you trying to pull?” Many that follow Bolivia closely think that things are not as black and white as they may seem. Martin Gutierrez of La Vitrina de la Realidad Boliviana [ES] disputes whether all three can actually be considered as accomplishments, such as the Constituent Assembly that has had to extend its deadline and the ongoing dispute over the debate regarding the location of the seat of government.

However, others like Hugo Miranda of Angel Caido [ES] hopes that the tone Morales used will carry over back in Bolivia.

Ojala se de cuenta en algun momento que para gobernar no necesita andar peleando con medio mundo y como dijo en esta entrevista en bolivia habemos gente de todo tipo hasta como el mismo Jon Stewart.

Hopefully he realizes that in order to govern one does not need to be fighting with everyone and as he said in the interview that in Bolivia there are all types of people even people that look like Jon Stewart.

From a strictly political point of view, political science professor Miguel Centellas provides his own analysis at Pronto*, although overall he writes that he was not impressed:

Evo’s performance did make him seem reasonable, calm, and appealing to a broad constituency of moderate liberals. In that sense, his performance was a rousing success—particularly when contrasted to last year’s Chávez “devil & sulfur” theatrics at the UN or this week’s Ahmadinejad fiasco at Columbia University. And that is, of course, the primary concern—from a political point of view.

Finally, many believe that the appearance of the popular television program did a lot to boost Morales’ reputation in the United States, as he presented his ideas in a plain and concise manner. Clare Sammells writes on the collective blog Gringo Tambo that the appearance was appealing to most U.S. viewers.

Most U.S. listeners would hear a clear subtext: how did you overcome the structural inequalities and discrimination you faced? How did you beat the system? Americans are impressed by rags-to-riches stories, tales of people who rise to achieve far more that those in power would expect. President Morales is a perfect example of the kind of successful individual we admire.


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