Monday, January 26, 2009

Why Evo matters to Obama

The Contradictions Facing a Black President of the American Empire
Johann Hari

The tears are finally drying - the tears of the Bush years, and the tears of awe at the sight of a black President of the United States. So what now? The cliché of the day is that Barack Obama will inevitably disappoint the hopes of a watching world, but the truth is more subtle than that. If we want to see how Obama will change the world - for good or bad - we need to trace the deep structural factors that underlie US foreign policy, and tease out what he will do about them. A useful case study of these pressures is about to flicker onto our news pages for a moment - from the top of the world.

Bolivia is the poorest country in Latin America, and its lofty slums 4000 meters above sea level seem a world away from the high theatre of the inauguration. But if we look at this country closely, we can explain one of the great paradoxes of the United States - that it has incubated a triumphant civil rights movement at home, yet thwarted civil rights movements abroad. Bolivia shows us in stark detail the contradictions facing a black President of the American empire.

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Bolivia Approves New Constitution; How Will the Obama Administration Respond?


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Obama administration’s response to Bolivia’s referendum on a new constitution may be key to improved relations between the two countries, according to Mark Weisbrot, co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

“If President Obama issues a clear statement indicating support for the constitutional process – as governments in the region undoubtedly will – this will send a message that Washington no longer supports extra-legal or anti-democratic actions against the Bolivian government,” said Weisbrot.

“If not, opposition governors and groups who have vowed to defy the new constitution will likely read Washington’s silence as continued support for their cause,” he said.

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