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December 28, 2005 [LINK]

Morales pledges to reject U.S. aid

Bolivia's president-elect, Evo Morales, says he will reject any U.S. foreign aid that is conditioned on Bolivia's cooperation in the coca eradication program. He plans a world tour in preparation for his inauguration, and his first stop will be Havana, Cuba. See Morales lacks any experience in government whatsoever, so his early months in office are likely to be marked by a lot of sharp crowd-pleasing rhetoric and inconsistent actions, as he faces up to the harsh realities of governance. With any luck, he will follow the example of Brazil's "Lula" da Silva and proceed with his sweeping reform agenda in a responsible way. In any event, his accession to power will be a momentous occasion for Bolivia, which has never had a full-blooded ethnic Indian serve as chief executive.

Chile to buy German tanks

The nearly-completed sale involves 100 advanced-technology Leopard tanks, which have long been the primary weapon of the German Army. This is the last major part of a weapons acquisition program that included ten U.S.-built F-16 jet fighters, 18 Dutch jets, four frigates, and two submarines. High prices for copper are said to be the reason for this buildup. See (Chile's strategic rival Peru is a major copper exporter as well.) Such purchases are normally arranged over a long period of time, so there may be no particular strategic motive behind it. The timing of the announcement may be in response to Peru's recent declarations about maritime sovereignty, which has offended many people in Chile.

Posted (or last updated or commented upon): 28 Dec 2005, 2: 43 PM

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