Armstrong Williams
Relations between Bolivia and the United States are at a breaking point. Bolivia, a South American republic with roughly nine million people is led by socialist President Evo Morales. President Morales, an indigenous Bolivian, is viewed with suspicion in the United States and is still relatively unknown internationally four months into his presidential term. And scarily, Bolivia’s success rests exclusively on his shoulders. President Morales’ leadership over the coming months will determine weather his country prospers or falls deeper into poverty. His choice is critical – either take the necessary steps to create a productive relationship with the US or dismiss the all important backing of his North American allies.

Thus far, President Morales has seemed to embrace the anti-American attitude shared by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and so many other Latin American leaders. He often described himself during the 2005 Bolivian presidential campaign as America’s “worst nightmare.” He has sparred with American leaders over trade, drugs, and visas. What’s worse, he seems to generally enjoy inciting conflict and ignoring international relations. This negative style of leadership is bad for President Morales politically and bad for Bolivia’s future. Until he abandons the childish anti-American act and reaches out for international support, his country will continue its downward spiral.

If the right steps are taken, President Morales could play a central role in brokering a new era in US-Bolivia and US-Latin America relations. He could be seen not only as an effective President of Bolivia, but as a leader of Latin America. He could use his position of influence to increase the prosperity of his people and bring back the prestige of his country.

There are a number of steps that President Morales could take to improve his public image and increase his power. He could, for example, secure the backing of Luis Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank, for an innovative project to lift people from poverty in Bolivia. He might, perhaps, attain backing for a poverty reduction program that pays members of the indigenous population if their children attend school. (Similar programs have been very successful in Brazil.) But without a doubt, the most important step President Morales must make is to reach out to American leaders for support, contributions, and counsel.

Armstrong Williams

Armstrong Williams is a widely-syndicated columnist, CEO of the Graham Williams Group, and hosts the Armstrong Williams Show. He is the author of Reawakening Virtues.
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