Left: Newly elected Bolivian president Evo Morales; photo courtesy of lostiempos.com
(Bolivia) The surprising victory by Evo Morales in Bolivia's national elections is merely the latest in what has quietly become a continental shift away from the free-market ideology pushed by the United States and the IMF.
Morales joins the leftist ranks of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez Argentina's Nelson Kirchner, Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and Uruguay's Tabare Vazquez. Another left-leaning candidate, Ollanta Humala, could win the election next month in Peru election.
And let us not forget Daniel Ortega, the Sandinista leader of Nicaragua in the 1980s, who is making noise about a comeback bid.
Morales took the reins of power this week after an election in which he not only took 54% of the vote, but also in which he became the first candidate in over 20 years to receive an electoral majority. He is also the first indigenous ruler in the region now known as Bolivia since the time of the Incas, a period of over five centuries.
This, of course, poses a dilemma for the Bush Administration. One one hand, the Bolivian elections were a democratic process, which President Bush has made a cornerstone of his foreign policy. On the other - the neo-conservatives and corporate lobbyists who advise the President must be beside themselves with horror at the prospect of yet another socialist rising to power in the hemisphere.
Morales, while not a diehard Marxist, nonethless represents a threat to US hegemony in the region. His opposition to the power of multinational corporations is apparent, particularly in his statement about basic human rights.
Will Bush embrace the ideal of democratically-elected governments, or will he cave in to the pressue of the neo-conservatives to vigorously oppose what appears to be a groundswell of hemispheric support for socialist governments?