U.S.-Bolivian relations worsen
During the month of October, relations between the United States and Bolivia went from chilly to frigid, as humanitarian missions came under the cloud of political conflict. The left-wing populist government of Evo Morales ordered a halt to all cooperation with the U.S. government in the fight against drug trafficking, accusing the United States of subverting his government. Class-based and ethnic conflict has continued to simmer in several regions throughout the past year, making it very unsafe for Americans who work there. In September, the Peace Corps withdrew all 113 of its volunteers from Bolivia, most of whom then left the Peace Corps, while a few decided to stay behind without official approval to help poor people. See the Washington Post.
Even as Mexico has gradually moved toward a more free market system over the past two decades, one huge impediment has remained: the state oil monopoloy, Petroleos Mexicanos, or PEMEX. The Mexican Congress voted to allow private investment in PEMEX for the first time, overcoming fierce objections from the Left. The leader of the Revolutionary Democratic Party, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who was narrowly defeated in the 2006 presidential elections, made this an issue of national pride, insisting that "The Fatherland is not to be sold." See CNN.com. Although potentially historic in scope, this legislative measure may yet be challenged, and it remains to be seen whether foreign investment in PEMEX will be allowed.