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.