President Bush has challenged Russia directly by pushing for construction of missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic as well as giving Georgia his unqualified support after their failed invasion of South Ossetia. Prime Minister Putin intends to stick it right back to America by working for close relations with nations like Venezuela and Bolivia. Russia is selling planes to Bolivia as a “first step” in building closer relations. Russian Ambassador to Bolivia, Leonid Golubev, made it even clearer by saying, “we want to show up the United States that Latin America is not their backyard. We also have interests in various spheres, including military ones.”
Although modern Russia is capitalist, its leaders are courting socialist governments in Latin America mainly to make clear to Bush if he wants to exert military pressure on their border, then the same can be done to American borders. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, who has become America’s number one opponent in Latin America, has purchased about four billion dollars worth of military equipment since 2005 from Russia.
The region of Santa Cruz in Bolivia represents the more industralized and modern part of the nation. It has a high percent of people who take pride in their European ancestry in contrast to most of Bolivia which contains a high number of those from indgenous heritage. The past weekend, a referendum was held in Santa Cruz which produced an overwhelming majority voting in favor of some form of autonomy from the central government. Reuben Costas, a self proclaimed “governor” of Santa Cruz heralded the vote as representing a blow against the central government of Morales which he believes is attempting to tap the rich resources of the area as part of a plan for redistribution of wealth.
Evo Morles represents an important turning point in the history of Bolivia being the first one of indigenous background to gain the presidency. He most probably made serious tactical mistakes by cozing up to Hugo Chavez of Venezuela who frightens many parts of the Bolivian middle class as well as intellectuals who ware witnessing the growing destruction of democracy in Venezuela. Morales failed to reach out to reasonable elements of the Santa Cruz middle class who were turned off by his rhetoric.
The result is a fragmentation of Bolivia. Morales might well back down from some of his demands and create a new coalition of those supporting some form of redistribution of wealth in Bolivia. It might not be exactly what Morales desires, but it would avoid creating conditions of chaos and disunion. Chavez is not a model who will gather support within the Bolivian middle class.
Evo Morales, the first indigenous president of Bolivia, hoped his administration would be abl to make serious economic inroads into poverty that besets so many living in poverty. Tomorrow, May 4th was supposed to be the day for constitutional referendum, but voting has been suspended. Instead, the region of Santa Cruz, home to his conservatve opposition, is poised to vote for autonomy from the central government and end the Morales goal for social and economic revolution. Many had hoped Morals would usher in new era in which all sectors of society worked together to revamp the economy and ensure a better life for the poorer component of society, those of indigenous backgrounds. Instead, the nation is being torn to pieces as the more developed Santa cruz region, seeks to gain greater local control over rich resources.
Morales insists the referendum is illegal and has urged a boycott which will only result in an even wider victory majority for conservatives. After the referendum, the conservative oppostion is expected to lclaim the right to control local government, taxes, police and natural resources, but will probably stop short of secession.
Morales may have attempted to go too quickly and ignored the need to seek allies within the ranks of the middle classes and moderates. His flirtation with Hugo Chavez only served to frighten the middle clas which feared Morales would assume a dictatorial attitude similar to that of the Venezuelan president.
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez created a turmoil at the Ibero-American summit meeting in Chile by proposing drastic changes in Latin American borders. “Bolivia has a right to the sea. You know my position, and we all know the history. Bolivia had access to the sea, and that was just and legitimate.” Bolivia lost the territory in a war with Chile. Chavez also blasted the Summit because of its theme of “social cohesion” claiming that idea was a “very conservative, static concept.” He preferred that the Summit adopt at its theme, “social transformation.”Chilean officials were furious at their guest’s comments pointing out Chile had gotten rid of the dictator, Pinochet, and was in the process of creating a modern democratic society which was also addressing issues of poverty. Chavez was supported by Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua who went further in suggesting the Organization of American States should be replaced with a new organization of Latin American nations that would exclude the United States.
There were several raucous incidents during the meetings. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zaptero was delivering a speech when Chavez interrupted him and began denounced the Spanish leader for taking part in a coup that attempted to overthrow the Venezuelan government. After the fourth interruption, the King of
Spain, Juan Carlos lost his temper and told exclaimed to Chavez, “Why don’t you just shut up?” Midway through a speech by Daniel Ortega, the pro-Chavez supporter, the King stormed out of the meeting. During quieter moments of the meeting, President Bachelet of Chile met with Bolivian leader Evo Morales and she offered to discuss possibilities of finding ways for his nation to get access to the sea.
Chavez is quite testy when it comes to denouncing US imperialism, but appears much quieter when discussion shifts to his efforts to stifle free speech in Venezuela and to allow himself to be president forever.
Posted in Argentina, Brazil, Human Rights, Military, Peace, Politics, World News
Tagged Bachelet, Bolivia, Chavez, Chile, Ibero-American, Ortega