Monday, April 13, 2009

More News from Bolivia

Note: All links are in Spanish

Evo Morales is still on hunger strike, allegedly. According to El País he celebrated the Day of the Child yesterday, and he looks fit enough there. He has used hunger strike before as a form of protest, especially during his time as the Trotskyist leader of the coca producers' union. He has said he (he actually said 'we', I wonder who he refers to) is willing to die to uphold the rights of the indigenous people of Bolivia. This is an admirable sentiment, but it is hard to see how rigging an election is going to help them; they are the rural poor, and they have the least to gain from economic and social breakdown, as usual. In any case, to judge by the photograph, I don't think we need fear such a tragic outcome. But someone, some supporter who doesn't understand politics and thinks it's real, probably will starve himself to death before this is over.

He has now agreed to a new census (one of the main complaints of the opposition was that the electoral roll was largely a work of fiction), though it remains to be seen how it will be carried out. He has said that if anything happens to him it will be the fault of America and the opposition, who he calls fascists, for no very obvious reason. He has the vociferous support of Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro- who have done so much themselves for democracy and the poor- which plays well with the populist movements and the extreme left. It's all for the television, of course, and in the end it will work. The law will be passed and he will probably win the election in the same way he won the last one. How this will benefit the Bolivian poor (many of whom are very poor indeed, without education or healthcare) is still unclear.

His idea of Socialism, like that of Chávez, is to tax the successful until they cease to be, or until they leave the country, and to nationalize everything in sight, destroying its value at a stroke. Then, when there is no money to give to the poor, he will blame America and the opposition.

Elsewhere in South America, Fernando Lugo, the President of Paraguay, has acknowledged a child he fathered back when he was a bishop, before entering politics. No one seems too bothered about it; in fact the general impression (from a quick look at the Paraguayan press) is that he has acted responsibly but it doesn't matter much. Gordon Brown would kill to be able to manage such effortless mystery and charisma.

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