Evo Morales gave another unfortunate speech yesterday. According to this report from Los Tiempos, the Bolivian president called anybody using the telephone services provided by foreign companies in Bolivia, Tigo and Viva, “antipatriotas” (unpatriotic). He recommended that Bolivians use the services of Entel, the Bolivian public telecommunications company. Although this kind of ideas are too obviously absurd, let me just make three important points:
- The chauvinistic principle under which Evo’s argument rest is patriotism: the local or national always comes first. This principle is tremendously perverse and world’s history has shown how destructive it can be. There is absolutely no reason to favor local companies as a moral principle. Instead, the moral principle should be freedom: freedom to choose which company serves me better and freedom for foreign companies to compete on a level playing field (something that Bolivian companies also demand when they compete in foreign markets).
- Competition makes better companies. Entel benefits from the healthy competition with foreign companies and vice versa. The competitive pressure generates incentives for innovation, better customer service, etc. Blocking foreign companies with silly arguments like patriotism only generates inefficiency.
- As Los Tiempos also report, other public companies use the services of Tigo and Viva. Will Evo ask those public companies (like Papelbol) to cancel those service agreements. Why can’t the president exercise some prudence when he opens his mouth?