Democratic thinking

Articles on democracy in the independent online media

December 17, 2005

Bolivian Democracy and the US

The prospect of socialist peasant leader Evo Morales as Bolivia's next president disturbed Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Charles Shapiro. "It would not be welcome news in Washington to see the increasingly belligerent Cuban-Venezuelan combo become a trio," he emailed on October 21, 2005 to the Miami Herald's Andres Oppenheimer (Dec 4, 2005).

Shapiro combined buzz words with clich├ęs. "The nature and scope of our cooperation with the next Bolivian government will depend on our shared interests: strengthening democracy, fostering economic development and combating illegal narcotics, along with that government's commitment to its international obligations."

These trite but coded phrases tell the next Bolivian government: do Washington's bidding, or get your butt kicked. Shapiro may think that phrases like "shared interests" and "democracy" Shapiro turn him into a literary magician: "Presto, the coin (history) has vanished."

Such routine pronouncements on US-Latin America policy presume that a policy exists, something beyond Washington demanding Latin American obedience to its dictates, so that US companies can continue their looting. Throughout, the last century, the United States has provided different labels for its domination. By the early 20th Century, the Monroe Doctrine took the form of "Gunboat Diplomacy." The Navy would routinely intervene to protect US investments and ensure "stable"--read obedient -- governments.

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