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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What Will Evo Do?

Now that Bolivia has a new president, many people (including yours truly) are wondering which road president-elect Evo Morales will take:

As Morales joins a growing list of elected Latin American presidents generally described as leftist or populist, he has two basic models from which to choose. One is that of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who has gleefully defied the Bush administration, formed a warm alliance with Cuba's Fidel Castro and cracked down on domestic opponents in the name of social change. The other is that of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, who has developed disciplined fiscal policies, left democratic institutions intact and avoided alienating the United States, all while forwarding broad social programs to help the poor.

"The old threat in Latin America was that of military coups. The new threat is that of authoritarian democracies -- leaders who get elected and then use the state to repress opponents, push through social change and stay in power," said Bernard Aronson, an international consultant in Washington and a former State Department official. "That is what Chavez is doing, and what Lula is not doing," he said. "The big question is, which way will Evo Morales go?"

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