The previous president had cooperated with the United States in attempting to shift farmers from coca to other crops. Morales has halted that program. Coca production has increased. He has also nationalized a number of industries, including the energy sector, and appropriated a Swiss tin smelter. No compensation to the Swiss or others should be expected, Morales announced at the time. The results are unsurprising. As Investor's Business Daily noted, "A gas-rich country now suffers from gas shortages." (Recall the old joke: What happens 10 years after the communists capture the Sahara? A sand shortage.)
If we are judged by the company we keep, Morales is flunking. His closest ally is Hugo Chavez of Venezuela (in fact, while we're talking about allegations, some have suggested that it was illegal contributions from Chavez that financed the blockade of La Paz of 2003 and helped bring Morales to power). Morales's other dear friend is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, who visited Bolivia in September after speaking at the United Nations. "An imperial spokesman tried to disrespect you, calling you a cruel little tyrant," Morales noted in his introduction, "You responded with the greatness of a revolutionary." Ahmadinejad returned the compliment by handing Morales a check for $1 billion.
While Harvard law professors and Manhattan liberals sue Morales's political foe in federal court, Morales is cementing relations with Nicaragua, Ecuador, Venezuela, Cuba and Iran while further impoverishing his people (with the exception of the drug growers). The Comedy Channel's Jon Stewart missed that memo. He recently hosted the Bolivian leader and credulously presented him to the audience as someone who would "nationalize resources and help distribute some of the money to the poorer folk in Bolivia . . . to institute agrarian reform -- and you did this within eight months of your election!" Cue the applause. And there was plenty.
Large swaths of Latin America are once again allying themselves with America's enemies. Ahmadinejad has been to the region three times in the past 24 months. Yet the great minds of Harvard, Hollywood and New York tamely offer platforms to the likes of Morales and issue fatwas against pro-American deposed leaders. What's wrong with this picture?
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