David Bahr writes for The Weekly Standard:
Bolivians Smack Down Evo Morales
A rebuke to La Paz’s version of Hugo Chavez.
Bolivians voted Sunday on an amendment that would allow sitting president Evo Morales to run for a fourth term in 2019. Morales, who took office in 2006, officially ends his term in 2020. As the results trickle in, it appears that a little over half (adjust accordingly for corruption, of course) of the country rejected Morales’s piecemeal attempt to create an eternal fiefdom in La Paz. [cartoon is from Pagina Siete]
Morales is a populist’s populist. He does not like to tie his own shoes, he legalized child labor, and he knows the difference between an imperialist and a good buddy. He also knows, as all good populists do, that economic success does not come overnight. Sometimes it does not even come in one’s lifetime, which was the rationale this now longest-serving leader in Bolivia’s history used for a 2025 “extension.” Bolivia, for all its problems, has seen a growth in GDP–a trend, Morales argues, that can only continue under his rule.
It is unclear whether or not Morales, who declared his willingness to listen to the desires of the people, will step down without a fight. Vice-president Alvaro Garcia Linera (predictably) disputed the results, stating, “It’s highly likely that the numbers shown by the opinion polls will be very different from the reality.”
In Central and South America, many heads of state don’t bother with irksome things like reality, let alone democracy or human rights. And with the Obama administration disengaged from the region and Chinese, Russian, and Middle Eastern economic influence on the uptick, men like Morales are free to prosecute their tin-pot dreams however they wish.