October 22, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Separatist violence in Bolivia

Opposition to leftist president Evo Morales is growing stronger in Bolivia, or at least in the eastern region of Santa Cruz. Over the weekend, protesters who are demanding greater local control over the province's energy resources occupied the city airport at Santa Cruz. Morales ordered Bolivian Army troops to remove the protesters, but they soon withdrew in the face of overwhelming numbers, not wanting to unleash a bloodbath. See BBC. Thus far, Morales doesn't seem to grasp how intense is the rejection of his agenda by many people in Bolivia, and his detachment from reality adds a dangerous element to the equation. The possibility of civil war or a violent secessionist movement remains very serious.

Mexicans tear down Fox statue

A mob in the town of Boca del Rio, Mexico, tore down a newly installed bronze statue of former president Vicente Fox, expressing their disgust with his lavish retirement lifestyle. Washington Post. My initial assumption was that members of the leftist PRD party were primarily to blame for this disgrace. After losing in last year's election, they accused the government of vote fraud, and both that episode and this more recent one, call into question Mexico's degree of democratization. After reading more closely, it seems that Fox has earned some of the public rebuke, behaving in an imperious, often erratic way for the past several months. He is currently on a tour in the United States, promoting his new autobiographical book.