< HOME  Sunday, January 22, 2006

Morales: The South American Wild Card

The mainstream media and financial investors want desperately to believe that Bolivia's newly elected "leftist" president will "govern less like Chavez and more like Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was elected on a leftist platform but has become liked on Wall Street for embracing orthodox fiscal policy."But, I suspect they will be sorely disappointed.
Bolivia (btw) has the second largest natural gas reserves in South America, second only to Venezuela. [and] Petroleum companies have invested $3.5 billion in Bolivia since the mid-1990s.
The usual suspects focused their attention on "conciliatory notes" Morales struck in his inaugural speech:
Morales said he's open to the idea of a large U.S.-sponsored trade zone he harshly criticized last year during his campaign.

Morales repeated his pledge to respect property rights that he made after winning the presidency last month in a landslide. He also promised his administration would treat all sectors of society fairly, without "rancor or vengeance."

Morales softened his position toward the U.S.-backed bloc, which would slash tariffs and other trade barriers from Canada to Chile.

He also said his administration would study the benefits Bolivia might get by joining a separate zone that would link the economies of the United States with Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, or by become a member the Mercosur trade zone.
I, on the other hand, recommend that they focus instead on who he is;
[Aymara Indian Evo] Morales, a former leader of Bolivia's coca growers union, rose to power leading protests, as Bolivia's poor became disillusioned with free market reforms and the privatization of everything from oil to water.
who he admires;
. . . Fidel Castro and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, an avowed socialist.
what he intends to do;
. . . nationalize the country's vast natural gas reserves.
and how he qualified his consideration of multi-national trade agreements.
If any one of the trade zones "guarantees markets for the poor, well, welcome," Morales said.
Yes, I share some of their optimism about Morales, but for entirely different reasons...:)


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