Ivo Morales is the first indigenous president of Bolivia. As such he has huge support from the majority but impoverished people while there is continuing opposition from wealthy European communities where governors of Bolivian states owe greater allegiance to “The Empire = USA) than Bolivia itself. Some have stated that they will declare their territory to be independent.
After his first term as president Morales has declares that “Bolivia is no longer a beggar state”. As elections loom to test Morales hold on power Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has arrived to give his support. As with Morales Chavez has found massive support from the dispossessed. When in 2002 Chavez was kidnapped by a group with U.S. backers people poured into the city from the poverty-stricken barrios to come to his aid.
A blog written from inside Bolivia has expressed an opinion which demonstrates the practical help that Venezuela has given to Bolivia in resisting deals from powerful transnational corporations.
“During an April 25 session with India’s Jindal Steel & Power Ltd., two Venezuelan experts whispered into the ears of their Bolivian counterparts and passed them notes, says Juan Mogrovejo, a representative of Jindal Steel who attended the meetings. Then the Bolivians hardened their terms, demanding that the length of the contract be cut to 20 years from 40. “The proposed contract changed radically,” Mr. Mogrovejo says. Other companies have also expressed dismay at the new terms.
In other words, Venezuelan economic experts evidently came in and helped the new Bolivian government negotiate a better deal for the Bolivian people. That is worrisome – for foreign corporations who had hoped to keep negotiating really exploitive deals that took Bolivians for a ride. It is too bad Venezuelan experts like these weren’t at the table, along with Bolivian officials who cared, when the Bechtel water takeover deal was negotiated in 1999, or during the gas negotiations a decade ago. Bolivia would have more money in its treasury and close to a hundred people killed in protests against those deals might still be alive.”
At the conference I attended in Havana in May it was Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean that was the centre of gravity. There was a powerful feeling that changes were taking place in not one but in many countries in the region. There was also a feeling that priorities were different to those imposed on us in the so-called democratic western world. Small states faced with economic embargo by the industrially powerful north were resisting that domination. Naturally this is far from uncontested and their remain powerful forces within and without that could at any time crush the indigenous populations once more.
The last thirty years has seen emerging democracies overthrown by force replaced by fascist dictators as Allende was replaced by the brutal Pinochet in Chile. Campaigns of genocide were carried out against those who had had enough of repression and exploitation. Even the U.S. eventually recognised that its associations with mass murderers portrayed it in an unwelcome light and so Reagan introduced a different superficially more liberal policy. Clearly the US administration is worried by what is currently happening in its “Backyard” and has sent its Fourth Fleet into the area to sniff out trouble.
Update. Morales wins popular support tempered by regional governors’ continuing opposition.