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November 20, 2005

Bolivia: The New Frontier

I am fascinated by all areas of the world. Recently, I've been intrigued by the conundrum of Latin America - why have most countries remained extremely poor and poorly developed despite having natural resources? According to one informed friend, it is a 50/50 combination of corrupt, European-descendant leaders within the region and corrupt, Western corporations and governments. It seems to me that deeply ingrained racism is a serious pillar of the poverty experienced by the majority of Latin Americans. My friend told me there are areas of Argentina that are large, gated communities where you must prove German ancestry to gain residency (and outsiders are not allowed in). This is another problem Latin America faces - many Nazis took refuge there at the end of WWII. And they were, for the most part, welcomed with open arms.

Don't get me wrong, there is hope both for Latin America and the world through the influence of new Latin American leaders. Evo Morales is the first full-blooded indigenous Bolivian to run for president, and as the leader of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), he has a really good chance of winning. The David Rieff in the NYT magazine refers to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a "leftist populist military strongman" several times, but from my previous reading of current events, he also seems to be leading the charge against corruption and undo influence of corporate greed on national economic development plans. The article says that the USG is tone-deaf to the new movements for change in Latin America; clearly the USG leadership is worse than tone-deaf. There are very few Evil Men in the world, and equating Morales with Osama bin Laden, as several high ranking USG officials have, only proves that ignorant, reactionary, isolationists are in charge of the USG (partially because The Left in this country has never had a truly effective political arm).

I am surprised that Rieff never mentioned the amazing uprising of ordinary Bolivians against Bechtel's attempt to privatize all water in the country (including rainfall). Perhaps I will find a more complete article on Morales and Bolivia in the future. I think using Che as the frame for his article led Rieff to omit more important, more recent events in Bolivia.

"Che's Second Coming?" by David Rieff in today's NYT Magazine

Posted by cj at November 20, 2005 6:09 PM


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