Note: U.S. 'soft power' turns 'hard' against reformist social democrats
Bolivia Versus the Empire Morales Sí, Secession No
By Patrick Irelan
Evo Morales is a patient man. After he was elected president of Bolivia in 2005, he set about in a peaceful and democratic way to liberate his country’s oppressed majority. That majority includes indigenous South American Indians, who make up over 55 percent of the population, plus a large proportion of the country’s mestizos, who constitute a total of 30 percent of the population. Morales himself is an Aymara Indian, the first indigenous president in the history of Bolivia. The remaining 15 percent of the population is as white as the faces you recently saw at the Republican National Convention. (Ethnic statistics courtesy of the CIA’s World Factbook.)
During the campaign, Morales and his Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) promised to distribute the country’s oil and natural gas revenue in a manner that would help the impoverished majority without sending the white minority into the poorhouse. He also wanted to institute land reform for the benefit of the landless peasantry. In a manner reminiscent of the Spanish latifundia, 5 percent of the producers owned 89 percent of the arable land. The poorest 80 percent owned a mere 3 percent of the land (Nidia Diaz, Granma, 12/7/2006). In Bolivia, it’s quite common for a wealthy family to own 30,000 acres or more. In the departments of Santa Cruz and Beni, a mere 14 families own three million hectares of farmland (Diaz). One hectare equals 2.47 acres. You do the arithmetic. The mainstream press in the United States sometimes calls these people “farmers,” which I assume is meant as a joke. Anyone with that much land isn’t a farmer. He’s a landlord or a land baron or the lord of the manor. This type of land ownership is medieval...