/ chavez / contagious /
In what is still more good news from Latin America the socialist Evo Morales, self-styled US nightmare in the region, a cocalero, the first native indian president of the country and a chavezite, has, it seems, received the 51% of the vote that enables him to claim the presidency without any political bargains. This is great news any way you look at it.
This guy is about to rock some boats (although there are fears in the movement that supported him that he won't go far enough):
Morales wants to nationalize Bolivia's huge gas reserves, the continent's second largest after Venezuela, currently in the hands of multinational companies. 'We will renegotiate all contracts - they are illegal, since congress has never ratified them,' he says. 'The state will recover the property of its natural resources, but we are open to foreign investment in exchange for a share of the business.'
He's not in a hurry and won't do this hastily, but it is quite certain that (after the past few years' "gas wars") he can't back off this promise. He seems to have certain ideas that involve neighboring Venezuela. Venezuela might step in if the US makes good on its threat to cut (90 million dollars of) aid to the country. Chavez BTW is already giving the big oil companies hell. The population of Bolivia has been radicalized by both the gas issue and the water issue, having defeated World Bank mandated water privatization that had exploded the price of water. More on the Bolivian water wars here.
We, Aymaras and Quechuas, original nations of the Andes, have survived the onslaught of the white man until today thanks to our coca leaf. From the moment the white man came to our land he has tried to control our leaf for his own enrichment. He has abused it here and now he is abusing it everywhere else. Since it has escaped his control he is intent on destroying it.
He has labeled our sacred plant a drug, to be prohibited and eliminated under universally binding drugs conventions. With these conventions the United Nations have offended and betrayed the Aymara and Quechua Nations.
Under the cover of these conventions and after impoverishing our people with their neoliberal policies, the United States government, foremost enemy of the Indians, has used its dollars to bribe the officials of Bolivia, corrupt its institutions and pit white Bolivians against us. Recently the United States Embassy in La Paz has funded a mercenary force with orders to eliminate the coca plant and the Indians defending it.
Coca is not a drug!
This lie has to be called. The moment has come for us to stop the menace of anihilation of the coca plant and our communal ways of living.
The coca plant has sustained us through all adversities until today and we will strive, with all our might and with her help, to thwart the white man's wicked plans.
Like other plants coca is a medicine, a holy plant. Thanks to coca we have withstood the untold sufferings brought upon us by the white man's unholy war on drugs.
Therefore, the United Nations should respect our coca leaf and take it off their prohibitive lists.
Therefore, the United States should get all their drug war personel and equipment out of Bolivia. They have abused their stay. Let them go home to fight their own countries drug war.
Therefore, the white men should stop their war on drugs and accept that we live peacefully with the coca plant. They should consider reports from Harvard University, their most cherished academic institution, about the beneficial uses of our plant.
But this will not come about without our active intervention. We have to rise to the occasion.
The moment has come for the original nations to take power in our own hands.
The moment has come for us to redeem the coca plant.
We have learned to treat the plant with respect and she has generously rewarded us
From now on we will no longer tolerate any foreign powers harming our plant. We will be her sovereign guardians.
Those nations that accept this will be our friends. We will help them treat its abuse.
Those that will continue to repress our plant will be our enemies and the predictions of sickness and misery proferred by our yaquiris, as recorded by legend, will certainly befall them.
As long as the American invader fights us, we, the original nations, won't forget our war cry, born from the pain of our people:
Causachun coca! WaÃ±uchun yanquis!
Long live coca! Yankee go home!
In related developments in neighboring Venezuela, the Chavez government just earmarked a breathtaking 41% of total expenditure of the country's 2006 budget for social programs. Which according to the BBC are already showing spectacular results.