The Movimiento Al Socialismo (MAS) of the reigning President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, has won the regional elections held on April 9th of this year.(1) Morales is the first elected President of Bolivia to be fully Native American, despite the great majority of the Bolivian population being Aymará or Quechua. For most of its history, the country has been governed by a swift succession of military dictators, vassal oligarchs of the United States and assorted strongmen. Universal suffrage was only introduced in 1951 by the reformist MNR party, which was subsequently overthrown by a series of juntas.
Much of the conflict has revolved around the main economic products of Bolivia: its enormous tin mines (it is the world’s largest tin producer) and the coca leaves grown as export crop by the country’s many poor farmers, which forms the basis for the drug cocaine. Continue reading “Bolivian Prospects”
Hugo Chávez Frías, the current President of Venezuela, was first elected to this office in 1998 and was inaugurated in 1999, now ten years ago.
He had already been a remarkable figure on the Venezolan political scene after having attempted a leftist military coup against the government of Carlos Andrés Pérez. In those days, the oil kleptocracy of Pérez failed and a series of riots by the poor majority of Venezolans, the so-called ‘Caracazo’, destabilized the government. Pérez had been a self-styled social-democrat, but had submitted his country to the liberal rule and ‘reforms’ of the International Monetary Fund, which disappropriated the people of their public goods and bled dry the urban population by abandoning the policies of gasoline subsidy. As a result, the Caracazo erupted and the army intervened to violently repress the revolts against this organized comprador thievery and the umpteenth case of betrayal by social-democracy. Progressive sections of the military, led by Chávez, attempted a coup against Pérez. The coup failed and Chávez was imprisoned, but Pérez was removed from office and his successor freed the coup perpetrators.
In 1998, Chávez’s new “Fifth Republic Movement” (MVR) obtained an absolute majority of votes in the Presidential elections, with Chávez himself as the candidate, defeating the rightist American-trained economist Henrique Salas Römer. Continue reading “Ten Years of ‘Bolivarian Socialism’ in Venezuela”
The press agency Reuters has reported that Zelaya, the President of Honduras who was deposed by a rightist military coup, has finally returned to his home country.(1) This has not wholly been confirmed, but we may assume it true. Zelaya was deposed by the army with the connivance of the Supreme Court of Honduras and the ruling majority of its Congress after the latter accused him of attempting to change the country’s Constitution to allow multiple terms for the Presidency. The Constitution itself, bizarrely, forbids such attempts at altering it. Perhaps this was initially conceived as a democratic measure to prevent the caudillo style of ‘strong man’ government prevalent in the weak countries of Latin America, but the real effect has been precisely the opposite. A Constitution that does not permit its own alteration is not a democratic framework, but a chain that fetters the people, and is equally hateful to progress as is living by a covenant with God. In creating this clause, which is founded in the country’s 1982 Constitution following, its framers irrevokably planted a seed that could not but bloom into a political crisis at some later point.
That is not to say that Zelaya’s actions are themselves to be encouraged. Continue reading “The Prodigal Son Returns to Honduras?”