The US government and media have been anxiously watching the Bolivian elections for some obvious reasons. Unfortunately for them, Evo Morales, a former coca farmer and the country’s first indigenous Indian President, won the election yesterday.
The news is ‘unfortunate’ for the US administration because Morales has promised to be a “nightmare” for them. Heh, another one to add to the list. I believe this piece of news is important for a few reasons.
Evo Morales has become great friends with Hugo Chavez (Venezuela) and Fidel Castro (Cuba) – both hated by the U.S. government – and wants more control over the country’s massive natural gas reserves.
More significantly, Latin America has moved sharply to the left of politics in its recent elections, to the dismay of America, in rebellion against the failed economic polices pushed on to them in the 90s by the World Bank and the IMF with the USA’s blessings.
Privatisation of state companies at cheap prices, laying of thousands of workers in the name of efficiency, letting multinationals exploit national resources, currency and capital flows instability, and being crippled by high debt payments (back to the IMF/World Bank) brought Argentina to its knees a few years ago and threatens many others. The Latin Americans now want greater control and stability over their own economies.
On a broader level it is the slow death of American neo-classical economic theory pushed by Reagan and Thatcher, that by privatisation and letting free-markets reign supreme, wealth would “trickle-down” to the poor. All Latin America got (and Africa is waking up to) was instability and more poverty.
It also reflect a big blind-spot many western economists have: failing to understand that economic policies that may work in one country may fail miserably in another depending on circumstances.
Hugo Chavez (and soon Evo Morales) is hated by the right and some on the left, but he has the popular support of his people. With America’s unfortunate indifference to the impact of the economic policies they prescribe to others, they are losing neighbours and friends fast.
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Filed in: Current affairs,Economics,The World