Moral Low Ground

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Bolivian President Evo Morales Denounces US

(Photo: Simon Wedege)

Bolivian President Evo Morales accused the United States of undermining democracy and backing coups in Latin American countries yesterday at a conference of hemispheric defense ministers in the landlocked Andean nation. During the speech, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates sat by and showed no emotion.

Morales’ hour-long tirade cannot be dismissed as mere anti-Yanqui rhetoric; Washington has a long history of meddling in the internal politics of Latin American nations and on many occasions US troops have invaded regional countries to protect American political and economic interests.

The US backed the brutal Bolivian dictator General Hugo Banzer, who was even trained in democracy suppression at the notorious US Army School of the Americas. Banzer employed Nazi fugitive Klaus Barbie, known as the “Butcher of Lyon,” who the US helped escape from Europe to South America.

Most recently, the Bush administration has backed an unsuccessful coup against the wildly popular Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in 2002 and the successful overthrow of Honduran leader Manuel Zelaya in 2009. Both men, as well as Bolivia’s Morales, are in Washington’s crosshairs because they initiated sweeping socio-economic reforms aimed at fighting poverty and economic inequality, threatening the power of multinational corporate interests and presenting an alternative to the hyper-capitalist model the US is accused of trying to impose on the world.

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