Pól Ó Lorcáin
Paul Larkin

Chroniclers are privileged to enter where they list, to come and go through keyholes, to ride upon the wind, to overcome in their soarings up and down, all obstacles of distance, time and place.
Charles Dickens - Barnaby Rudge, Chapter The Ninth

Update on Evo Morales's historic victory in Boliva - attacks US "blackmailers"

The leader of the cocoa growers in Bolivia and the soon-to-be new president of Bolivia – Evo Morales has attacked the anti narcotics policy of Bush administration in his first press conference after being announced as the winner in last weekends presidential elections.

Morales who is of Aymara origin and the first indigenous Bolivian to hold the reins of power, has promised to legalise the cultivation of the cocoa plant but stressed that the difference between this and the culture of narcotics and cocaine (cocaine is a by-product of the cocoa plant).
“Neither drug trafficking nor cocaine is part of the Bolivian culture”, he said, “nor of the Quechuas or Aymaras”.

At the moment, Bolivian law permits the cultivation of 12,000 hectares of cocoa for traditional use. The North American authorities estimate that cocoa cultivation in Bolivia is double this figure. However, Morales strongly criticised the Bush administration saying that the drug trafficking problem was being used as an excuse by the US in order to install and maintain military bases in the country. He went further and accused the US's policy of cocoa plant certification as being a method of “chantaje” – blackmail – against Bolivia.

The victory of Morales in the presidential polls has been widely acclaimed in Latin and South America. One of Morales's first television interviews after his election was with the Cuban television service where he declared his election as not only a victory for Bolivia but "for the whole of Latin America. He then continued the interview by praising the Cuban revolution in words that are sure to offend the Bush administration still further.

Through the years I have followed Fidel’s (Castro) and the Cuban people’s anti imperialist struggle . Now I have the opportunity to stand with him in this struggle for peace and social justice.”

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has declared a watching brief on events in Bolivia whist speaking to CNN, saying that a clearer US position will emerge once Morales takes office in January next year. She stated that the most important thing for the US was that Morales was seen to govern in a "democratic manner" and that he was open to economic cooperation which would “help the people of Bolivia”. She went on to say that Bolivia could not cut itself off from the international economic community. A statement which has been seen by some commentators as an initial diplomatic shot across Morales’s bows with regards to how he chooses his international friends.

Morales, however, seems to be his own man in terms of his politics and, if so, the scene is set for a confrontation similar to that which pertains between the Chavez regime in Venezuela and the Bush administration. The wider political truth is that George W Bush is losing allies fast in Latin and Southern America and there is no doubt that he will want to take steps to address this issue given the rising pro Cuban power base in the region.


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