Monday, March 21, 2005

Outside help


The WaPo is calling for the US to provide “outside help” to preserve democracy in Bolivia, although, as with its editorials attacking Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, you could be forgiven for thinking the Post was more concerned with energy exports to the US than with democracy. Mr. Chávez makes an appearance here too, accused of “meddling” in Bolivia (as opposed to “outside help”). Evidently Chávez, “along with Cuba’s Fidel Castro dreams of a new bloc of Latin ‘socialist’ (i.e., undemocratic) regimes that will join with like-minded states such as Iran, Libya and China to oppose the United States.”

Like-minded? Libya and China? Iran and Cuba?

The funny thing is that the Post news section has an article on John Negroponte’s stint as ambassador to Honduras, providing “outside help” by running interference for its death squads. The article is better than the editorial, although you have to wonder about their choice of words in saying that he “is still being hounded by human rights activists,” such as a woman whose brother was disappeared. Hounded indeed, like Inspector Javert chasing Jean Valjean.

Given that Bush saw fit to promote a man with that record to Intelligence Tsar, it’s hard to imagine why the Post thinks any “outside help” provided by the US to Bolivia would be in the direction of “head[ing] off the breakdown of democracy in Latin America”. Also, we have some idea of the Bushies’ commitment to Bolivian democracy from its past record, which the Post doesn’t see fit to mention: during the 2002 Bolivian presidential elections, the American ambassador and Otto Reich of the State Department issued repeated blunt threats about cutting aid — and worse — if the country elected the wrong candidate. They took the hint and our candidate won.

The editorial also defends the opening of Bolivian infrastructure to outside (i.e., American) investment, so that provision of water is run on a for-profit basis. I don’t know much about the specific situation in Bolivia, but that usually means a whopping increase in water bills, and aggressive disconnection of those who can’t afford it.

This looks like a good place to find out more about Bolivia. (Update: and here. Thanks to Josh Narins of Remain Calm for the link.)

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