Sunday, January 25, 2009

Morales Wins Bolivian Referendum

Chalk one up for Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Between 56% and 60% of Bolivians approved a new constitution which while giving indigenous peoples more rights also gives President Morales more powers such as dissolving the Bolivian Congress at his pleasure. He will also have an opportunity to run for re-election later this year which was something the Bolivian constitution had previously prohibited.

Morales came to office in late 2005 and has been joined to the hip with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. However, Morales' socialist policies have not appealed to the southern part of the country which produces much of Bolivia's natural resources. They have sought greater autonomy if not outright secession from Bolivia. They rejected the referendum in large numbers but lost the overall vote. There has been violence between the Morales government and the departments. If Morales is re-elected later this year (there is every reason to believe he will be) then I predict there will be more violence which could very possibly result in a civil war.

Morales and several other Latin American leftist leaders to have sought stronger relations with Iran and met with President Ahmadinejad. He has oft joked that Bolivia is part of the "axis of evil." What a hoot. Morales and Chavez also recently broke off diplomatic relations with Israel over the conflict with Hamas in Gaza. Morales is seeking a rapprochement with the U.S. because of Obama. I would not be surprised if Obama is agreeable. After all if Obama is willing to meet Ahmadinejad he would certainly be willing to meet with Morales not to mention Chavez.

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