OUR Brand is Crisis” is the latest movie of Oscars best actress Sandra Bullock. It didn’t make much money in its theatrical release but, truth to tell, this is one of the better films of Bullock, as it is inspired by true events. This is similar to “The Blind Side” that made her an actress of substance.
The film is a fictionalized account of the involvement of American political campaign strategists in the 2002 Bolivian presidential election. While it provides a glimpse of how spinners could resurrect the life of a hard-to-sell candidate, focus is given to the rivalry between two American strategists hired by opposing camps. I guess the director had to put comedic episodes to sell the film to an American audience. Still, the opus has a thought-provoking conclusion due to the aftermath of a real political crisis that caused the resignation of the winning candidate.
I read that this film had its origin from a documentary of the same title that gave behind the scene narrative on how strategist James Carville turned around the faltering presidential campaign of one time Bolivian president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, nicknamed Goni, who wanted to return to power.
As the title suggests, Carville and company manipulated public opinion by painting a nation in crisis with Goni as the solution. At the same time, the strategists-for-hire pursued black propaganda war against the leading candidate that impacted on the voters’ perception as the election drew nearer.
The results saw de Lozada obtaining 624,126 votes against Evo Morales’s (President since 2006) 581,884 and the leading candidate Manfred Reyes Villa’s 581,163. It must be noted that while de Lozada returned to power, he lasted only for 14 months in office due to anti-government protests (led by Morales)that resulted in bloodshed. De Lozada has gone on exile in the United States and faces claims under the Torture Victim Protection Act that remains to be active today.
It is no secret that American strategist Edward Lansdale created the Ramon Magsaysay persona that led the “Guy” to defeat of Elpidio Quirino. Surely, there must have been presidential candidates in the past that hired American consultants to stir their campaigns.
Of course, nobody would admit that openly, as this can be considered as foreign intervention in the nation’s politics. One name that has cropped up though is Paul Bogrand, an American political strategist who helped in the campaigns of Ramon Mitra in 1992 and Joseph Estrada in 1998.
But now there is a force more efficient than political strategists: social media. It has allowed ordinary people to campaign for their preferred candidates as well as throwing dirt on others. Manipulation of public opinion has become more complex, and voters are starting to know better.