October 25, 2006
Refusing to concede to the "Yankee imperialists," but aware that opposition to his bid to get Venezuela on the U.N. Security Council for the 2007-2008 term is far too strong, Hugo Chavez has offered to support Bolivia for the seat. Guatemala refused that "compromise" offer, however, and the United States is probably opposed to Bolivia as well, since its president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, is close pals with Hugo. It was only recently that Morales assumed power, and the political situation in Bolivia remains very unsettled. See BBC. The fact that Chavez so crudely insulted the very foundations of the United Nations during his stormy visit to New York last month no doubt undermined the prestige or popularity he once enjoyed in the Third World.
As for Bolivia, it is considered ill-mannered to draw attention to the humble capacities of many Third World governments when they are acting as sovereign peers on the global stage. After all, they're doing their best, or seem to be. In Bolivia's case, there have been several historical episodes in which public order completely broke down. Although it has a beautiful indigenous culture, Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America, with a record of deep social division and political instability. In recent decades, as much as ten percent of its gross domestic product has consisted of foreign aid, one of the highest aid-dependency ratios in the world. The 1990s were marked by steady progress after the hyperinflation of the early 1980s, and many observers of Latin America thought those days of chaos were a thing of the past. Poor people began to feel left out by the turn of the century, and on several occasions over the last few years the entire Andean region, and other parts of South America, have teetered on the brink of anarchy. Bolivia's economy remains in decent shape, but investor confidence has suffered terribly, leaving the government in a weakened financial position. Many people consider it wrong for the United States to exercise a leading role in international security when there is so much violence here at home, but by those standards Bolivia would be ruled out completely. Given the present-day internal situation, with recent violent clashes in Santa Cruz, La Paz, and near Oruro, no sensible person would consider it an appropriate country to weigh in on vital matters of international security. Perhaps in a few more years when things settle down again...
The government of Argentina has charged the government of Iran and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah group for plotting the 1994 bomb blast that destroyed a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people. The indictment named Iran's former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is under an arrest warrant. See CNN.com. Politics does not seem to be a factor in this criminal proceeding, and it is a good sign that Argentina is acting in a bold, responsible way in the global war against terrorism. Rafsanjani was succeeded as president in 1997 by Mohammed Khatami, who was considered a moderate by Iranian standards and recently created a stir when he visited the University of Virginia. Too bad his successor is such a hot head.