Friday, January 19, 2007

La Paz, Bolivia: Evo Morales says Fox "Humiliated me. And Calderón is doing the same."

Bolivian President Evo Morales, speaking at a Mercosur conference in Rio de Janeiro, claims that Mexican ex-president Vicente Fox humiliated him. And he says that President Felipe Calderón "is of the same tendencies." What Morales is whining about is a statement made by Fox about Bolivia's refusal to sell natural gas to willing buyers. Fox said, "Well, they'll either have to consume it all themselves or they're going to have to eat it."

That doesn't sound particularly humiliating to me. It sounds more like common horse sense. Now, Fox could have said, "wear it," or "snort it," or "swim in it," or "wait until the Gringos arrive in force to take it away from them," or any number of other allusions to Evo's illusions. If Evo were really concerned about being humiliated, perhaps he would consider avoiding being photographed like this:

Chavez to Evo: "Hungry? Here, eat this microphone."

Evo receives the Staff of Ra as Spielberg weeps in frustration.

Evo wearing a coca wreath and sprinkled with a well known coca by-product.

A brief history of Evo Morales. He's from the tin mining area of Oruro, but the tin mining business collapsed. It collapsed because of the 1952 revolution that nationalized the industry. Hello, PEMEX? The state run company COMIBOL raised miners' wages by 50% but skimmed so much money from the mines that there was none left for re-investment, so the mines went under. Hello, PEMEX?

His family, along with thousaands of other out-of-work mining families, had to move away. They moved to Yungas to try agriculture. But the Bolivian agriculture sector lay in ruins from the same 1952 revolution that took "unproductive" land away from its owners and gave it to the indigenous campesinos. However, the onerous controls over the land rights and the usual incompetent legal ownership controls led to Bolivia having to import food, on the dole, to feed its people.

Stop Bush from what? Sending any more money? Uh . . . OK.

So, giving up on agriculture, Evo moved again, this time to Chapare, the coca growing center. At its high point, this area had 100,000 acres planted in coca. And almost all of that coca was processed into cocaine. Evo Morales grew coca for cocaine. He was a cocaine farmer. But when the anti-drug campaigns reduced the 100,000 acres to 7000, Evo became an political activist.

Note: Coca has been used for centuries by the indigenous in Bolivia. The leaves are chewed to alleviate hunger and are used in a wide variety of folk medicines. However, almost all of that coca is grown on small family plots, not massive fields of coca. Morales's vow to legalize coca growing for "traditional use" is a mere smokescreen to cover up Bolivia's re-emergence as a major cocaine provider.
He said his drug policy will be "zero cocaine and zero drug trafficking, but not zero coca or zero cocaleros," Morales said.

But since Bolivia's mostly successful campaign to control the coca industry, the drug cartels have found other suppliers for their coca paste, namely Columbia and Peru. So how will Morales inject Bolivia back into the mix? There is only one way and that is by offering a lower price than the cartels are now paying. Which, of course, means that the indigenous campesinos will be receiving less money for their coca paste and will remain mired in poverty. Congratulations!

Let them chew coca leaf, I guess.

Now, as Bolivia's first ever indigenous president, Morales wants to revisit the tin mining disaster, this time with the natural gas fields. Worse, he also is refusing to even sell his country's natural gas. Hence, Fox's "humiliating" comment. He has also announced that he intends to take over "unproductive" land and give it to the peasants. That idea was tried and failed already.

He vows to repeat the disastrous nationalizing which destroyed Bolivia's tin industry, repeat the disastrous land reforms that caused the country to import food for the last 50 some years, food for which it has never been able to pay, and again become the world's #1 supplier of coca paste for cocaine. One has to wonder if this guy is capable of any original thought.

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