Friday, January 23, 2009

A Test for Obama . . . in Bolivia!

Johann Hari of the British Independent has a very informative and challenging piece on a subject I knew little about: the US's trashing of Bolivia's populist leader Evo Morales, who has fought to regain control of his country's natural gas and water resources - only to be demonized and undercut (during the Bush administration) by hostile US interests. Obama, Hari notes, has an opportunity to climb onto the stage and sing a different tune:

Enter Obama – and his paradoxes. He is obviously a person of good will and good sense, but he is operating in a system subject to many undemocratic pressures. Bolivia illustrates the tension. The rise of Morales reminds us of the America the world loves: its yes-we-can openness and civil rights movements. Yet the presence of gas reminds us of the America the world hates: the desire to establish "full spectrum dominance" over the world's resources, whatever the pesky natives think.

Which America will Obama embody? The answer is both – at first. Morales has welcomed him as "a brother", and Obama has made it clear he wants a dialogue, rather than the abuse of the Bush years. Yet who is Obama's Bolivia adviser? A lawyer called Greg Craig, who represents Gonzalo S├ínchez de Lozada – the hard-right former president of Bolivia who imposed some of the most extreme privatisations of the 1980s, and is now wanted on charges of genocide. Craig's legal team says Morales is (yes) leading "an offensive against democracy".

Hmmm . . . .

Johann Hari: Is the US about to treat the rest of the world better? Maybe... - Johann Hari, Commentators - The Independent

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