By Andrea Huls
You have to be kidding me. After reading what President Bush said about visiting Latin America this week, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. It seems that now Bush is a revolutionary who is going to combat injustice and poverty.
According to a Washington Post article, Bush said, “The millions across our hemisphere who everyday suffer the degradations of poverty and hunger have the right to be impatient.” If I am not wrong, there still are thousands of people that survived Hurricane Katrina who are struggling every day. American people have the right to be impatient too, Mr. President. What are you doing about it?
Bush showed concern for the working poor and said that they “need change.” He also said that it is a scandal that democracy and capitalism have not been delivered to more Latin Americans. Bush obviously hasn’t done his homework. It seems to me that he does not know what is really going on in Latin America, and neither does he understand its history.
Latin America has been struggling with poverty since the colonization era because white people abused the native people. Whites took all of Latin America’s gold, silver and other precious minerals and resources. Eventually Creoles took control of the government and took advantage of the native people.
Latin America has faced political turmoil for decades. President Bush cannot blame current presidents for mistakes made in the past. Poverty didn’t happen over night, and Bush isn’t going to solve it overnight either.
My question is, why now? Why all of a sudden he cares about Latin America. Didn’t he promise six years ago that Latin America was one of his priorities? What happened to his promises?
I was offended by his statements about bringing “social justice to the region” and I was even more offended when I read that Bush called it “a scandal” that democracy and capitalism have not been delivered to many Latin Americans. Who told him that there is no democracy in Latin America?
In Bolivia, president Evo Morales won the elections in December 2005 by 53.7 percent and his opponent Jorge Fernando “Tuto” Quiroga had only 28.6 percent of the popular vote. Other parties had fewer percentages (there are more political parties in Bolivia than in the U.S.)
He won by popular majority, something that didn’t happen since my country’s return to democracy in 1982 (after years of dictatorships and political instability.) I don’t think Bush won by that much. I even remember an odd incident in 2000 when Al Gore almost became president.
For too long, the indigenous people of Bolivia, who make up more than 70 percent of the total population, had been oppressed by an indifferent government. After a land reform in Bolivia in the ’50s, the indigenous class was ignored. It was no surprise that more than 50 years later they would finally rise. Morales, as an indigenous president, is speaking up for his people. He, more than anyone, understands what is like to work from sunrise to sunset in the country and make almost no income. He has been hungry, he has been cold and he has suffered abuse from the government.
I do not think Bush’s intentions are sincere. I think he dislikes leftist governments and he wants to control what other nations do or stop doing. Bush sees Morales as a threat to his plans of expanding capitalism and free trade which would benefit the U.S.
How odd that Bush dislikes precisely Bolivian and Venezuelan governments. Countries that have decided to nationalize their resources and escape capitalism at all cost. Bolivia has the second largest resources of natural gas in Latin America — 1.38 million cubic meters — after Venezuela. I wonder if maybe, just maybe Bush finds this inconvenient.
Morales has been criticized for his relationship with Chavez and people do not realize they are different people. Morales is true to his traditions, value, and languages. He has made mistakes, but I wonder if there has ever been a perfect president anywhere in the world. I honestly think that people do not care to know or understand more about him.
Bolivia and many Latin American countries have struggled. They are getting back on their feet, and trying to move forward. No thanks to Bush. Please, Mr. President, solve your own problems first. We don’t need leftovers.
Gargoyle Photo Editor Andrea Huls is a native of Bolivia.