Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Making Exploitation the Main Issue - Bolivia's Top Presidential Hopeful Stresses Freedom From U.S. Economic Interests

COCHABAMBA, Bolivia -- Slapping the leather cover of a Bible, a man in this city's central square attracted a pressing crowd one recent morning with the promise that a passage he had found in Deuteronomy spoke directly to his country.
" 'One from among your brethren you shall set as king over you,' " he said, " 'and you may not put a foreigner over you who is not your brother.' "
The biblical foreigner, he explained, was the U.S. government and the multinational corporations that exploit Bolivia's natural resources. The potential king was Evo Morales, a former union leader whose message of the need for freedom from U.S. economic interests has put him at the top of the list of presidential hopefuls.
"Evo is the only one who can defend us," said Jose Meneces Gomez, a bystander who had crowded close to hear. "We need someone who will be a president for Bolivians, not for anyone else."
On Friday, Bolivia's electoral court indefinitely postponed elections, which were to take place in December. While the government dispute involved wrangling about how congressional seats should be distributed, Morales described the decision to suspend elections as a personal attack on his success. He said the squabble over congressional seats was calculated to derail his campaign and stop a wave of anti-globalization spreading through South America.

"If they don't want us to win democratically," he said last week during a rally in central Bolivia, "the people will rise up and take power by force."