Monday, December 19, 2005

It's official.

As expected, Evo Morales was victorious in the Bolivian Presidential election.

Read the New York Times' (slanted as always) coverage here.

Morales comes from a poor, indigenous background, growing up as a llama herder and a coca grower, eventually becoming the head of the Cocaleros, or coca-growers union.

He won by much more than he was projected - I saw polls Sunday predicting 32 percent of the vote for him (I think they were taken in late November). It appears that he has won much more than that, but results won't be official for a few days.

This election makes Morales, as far as I know, the first formal representative of a union of producers of a prohibited crop to become the head of a State.

Morales' election will change the international war on drugs in ways we can't even suppose at the moment.

He's also the first indigenous President of Bolivia, which is one of the poorest (and on-and-off coca dependant) nations of Latin America.

“zero cocaine, zero narco-trafficking, but not zero coca”
This has been Morales' rhetoric about his drug policy for a while now. I don't know if he actually takes prohibition seriously or if it was just to temporarily pacify Washington, but either way, drug policy reformers should keep their eyes on Bolivia for the next couple of weeks.

Coverage in the Sydney Morning Herald


Justin Holmes said...

I want to call this irony, but I know better:

When I clicked on the link to read the New York Times article again, I got an ONDCP ad.

I've been saying this for a couple of years now, but I'll say it again: Outlets which accept ONDCP ads have slanted coverage of drug policy issues at times when the ads are running.

I mean, come on, how can a news outlet cover this issue and make you click through prohibitionist propaganda before you even get to the prohibitionist propaganda?

Erik Cooke said...

I wonder if the Drug Czar will be considered a war criminal in Bolivia.

800 pound gorilla said...

Obviously Morales is going to have problems attracting outside investors. The US government can and does impose restrictions on "rogue nations" that thwart its political agenda. Most investors are amoral. They don't care how just or rational the policies are. They want easy access to credit to help them raise necessary capital for investment. The US controls the IMF and abuses that power to discourage reforms that threaten the labor market. Only in rare instances where the IMF policies don't coerce countries does the United States send in the taxpayer funded goon squads.

Don't get too hopeful about open reform in Bolivia. With all the economic might wielded to support US criminal behaviors overseas, only the wealthiest or poorest countries can afford to openly criticize US policies. Ironically the IMF has zero influence in the criminal market. Those companies that engage in illegal drug supply [gasp] don't openly announce or publicize their involvement. I know that you find it amazing - with all the stories about the CIA running drugs to bankroll its covert ops - that there is no official written evidence to verify this as fact. That's why the History Channel can say this about Air America with a straight face. As long as we keep a business in the shadows we can make up the facts - without fear of being proven liars.