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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

Beatrice Rangel: In Bolivia, the Emperor Truly is Nude
Former Venezuela Presidential Chief of Staff Beatrice Rangel on the real story of Bolivia's Evo Morales.

By Beatrice E. Rangel

The Tacana nation is among the oldest and most creative inhabitants of the Americas. They have lived on the banks of the Beni and the Madre de Dios rivers for at least three millennia. And they have progressed through trade and environmental acuteness.

Most recently they were awarded the prestigious United Nations Equator Award for their exemplary work in reforestation of the Bolivian jungles.

They have kept their political organization, customs and traditions throughout the Spanish conquest, the independence wars, the mid-20th century military uprisings and the Evo Morales regime.

And the Tacanas just indicated in no uncertain terms that Mr Morales should give way to another leader.

According to the New York Times, "In seeking for yet another term, Mr. Morales was violating a basic tenet of the Tacanas, power sharing. He was also pushing for oil and gas extraction in protected areas and proposing hydroelectric dams that would displace native communities."

In short, Mr Morales fails to represent the Tacanas vision of governance and leadership. This was made crystal clear by the leader of Tacana nation Nelo Yarari who reportedly said "We don't consider him indigenous here. He has turned his back on us."

The statement has come as a surprise to most analysts who have considered Mr Morales for almost two decades as the legitimate representative of the autochthonous nations of Bolivia.

Nothing seems however to be further from the truth.

Besides looking indigenous Mr Morales fails to fulfill the requirements of a true indigenous Bolivian.

To begin with he never lived in an indigenous community and neither does he speak any of the indigenous languages Aymara and Quechua.

Finally, he has never been part of any of the Indigenous Peoples Councils that exist in Bolivia since the times of Victor Paz Estenssoro who created these institutions in the 1950s.

And while under his watch the Plurinational State of Bolivia was established, the truth is that this is not his creation.

Indeed, ever since Victor Paz Estenssoro led a revolutionary government in the 1950s, the original nations of Bolivia had presented the proposal to enshrine in a constitution the multicultural nature of the state. In those days they benefited from land reform and a series of rights granted by the Paz-Estenssoro administration. When the country fell prey to military rulers the original nations led an underground resistance movement.

Mr Morales was never part of this saga.

He was born in Oruro and moved in his early adulthood to Chapare, a land known for its coca crops. By the 1990s when Mr Morales was in his thirties, President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada gave to the unemployed from the bankrupt state-owned enterprises land in Chapare and credits for them to enter agriculture.

Mr Morales benefited from these policies and moved to Chapare. In Chapare coca was the reigning crop. With four crops a year and a tropical climate that demanded little care, Mr Morales had enough time to focus on his passion which is soccer. Through soccer he entered the shady world of coca growers.

As the Bolivian government began to place restrictions on coca production and processing., Mr Morales found it easy to raise to the role of activist for coca production. Behind this movement of course were those peasants who legitimately fought to preserve the crop that for millennia had been used to heal and those that used the sacred plant to extract illicit financial arbitrage. And truth be told, Mr Morales served both interests.

By the late 1990s law enforcement forces had made inroads in fighting the Colombian drug cartels. Many retrenched to Bolivia.

The tactical withdrawal coincided with the rise to power of Mr Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.

Soon Bolivia became a valued asset for yet another power group. The Cuban regime had always aimed at taking South America over. An alliance with Chavez would facilitate the meeting of that goal.

Chavez scouted the Bolivian territory for a cause advocate. He initially set his eyes on Felipe Quispe, a congressman with Aymara ancestry.

But Mr. Quispe proved to be too proud of being a Bolivian to serve foreign interests.

Evo was the second and successful choice. The rest of course is history.

With the Venezuelan and the coca money and the strategic and tactical training imparted by Cuba, Mr Morales became the electoral success of the 21st century in Bolivia. And while he is there both Cuba and the exploiters of the drug trade will be happy. They have no ties with the original nations of Bolivia who deem Mr Morales a fraud.

Beatrice Rangel is President & CEO of the AMLA Consulting Group, which provides growth and partnership opportunities in US and Hispanic markets. AMLA identifies the best potential partner for businesses which are eager to exploit the growing buying power of the US Hispanic market and for US Corporations seeking to find investment partners in Latin America. Previously, she was Chief of Staff for Venezuela President Carlos Andres Perez as well as Chief Strategist for the Cisneros Group of Companies.

For her work throughout Latin America, Rangel has been honored with the Order of Merit of May from Argentina, the Condor of the Andes Order from Bolivia, the Bernardo O'Higgins Order by Chile, the Order of Boyaca from Colombia, and the National Order of Jose Matías Delgado from El Salvador.

You can follow her on twitter @BEPA2009 or contact her directly at BRangel@amlaconsulting.com.


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