Wednesday, May 03, 2006


And they say politicians these days don't keep to their word.

When Evo Morales ran for the Presidency of Bolivia last year, he promised to nationalise all his country's subsoil hydrocarbons. On May Day 2006, he has done just that:

This is a patriotic and heroic decision that takes back our soul and dignity. But it will be a measure attacked by dinosaurs, conservatives, and traitors of the country.

said Mr Morales. He forgot to mention two of his closest allies in Latin America: Presidents Kirchner (Argentina) and Lula (Brazil). Both are pretty peeved that industries in which their own countries invest will no longer be theirs to appropriate. And both seemed to be surprised that the man who they thought was their friend has left their governments (in Lula's words) "caught with their pants down."

They shouldn't be surprised though. Despite his shortcomings, Morales has always aligned himself with Bolivarian socialists such as Chavez and Castro, rather than with Peronists or social democrats (i.e. Kirchner and Lula). At first, Kirchner and Lula seemed to view Morales (and, for that matter, Chavez) as rather useful allies in South America. When they wanted some anti-American rhetoric, Hugo and Evo would come up with a juicy soundbite with which they could laugh along, without actually saying anything themselves which might alienate the US. In other words, Lula and Kirchner could flit between Latin American solidarity and US kow-towing as and when necessary.

These are interesting times for the Left in South America. If Morales was on his own, one might be tempted to point out the dangers of pissing off one's biggest customer (Bolivian oilfields provide Brazil with 50% of its supply). But Bolivia and Venezuela are the two largest sources of oil in Latin America. The fact that both are in an advanced state of re-nationalisation means that the oil market could well increasingly favour the seller. Good news for Venezuelans and Bolivians, whose staggering natural resources have always provided income for anyone but themselves. Bad news for Lula and his chances for re-election in October.

See here for more on oil, capitalism and climate change.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or here

9:19 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home