Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

South America could be a good friend, but we ignore it

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on September 6, 2010

by Julian Glover for The Guardian UK, September 2nd, 2010.

Development and democracy flourish on the continent, and trade with it would help the UK to escape recession.

Achacachi is a rough little town in Bolivia, one long rutted street lined with greasy beer halls and soup shops skilled at refuelling the poor in a hurry. At dawn, in the cold, it leaves few impressions: a pit stop for country buses in the Aymara tribal heartland of stubborn Andean isolationism, a town notorious for its political temper, given to blocking the road with boulders when it does not get its way.

Evo mi Presidente“, reads the graffiti on Achacachi’s dusty walls, for if Evo Morales’s attempted revolution means anything, it is in places like this. The country has fallen into the hands of its people, the latest and still mostly optimistic participants in Latin America’s saga of leftist disappointments. Buying a round of coffee – thick black syrup in a tin mug, diluted with lukewarm water – I offered a 10 boliviano note, about 90p, and asked the stall-holder to keep the difference. “We don’t need it now,” she said, proudly but without malice, handing me back my change. “The people of Venezuela are helping us.”

It’s decent of her to hope, though the only obvious sign of anything changing in Achacachi is a new football stadium, one of many Morales has built in his name. The first indigenous leader in a country whose people have always been exploited, Morales has the misfortune to play a bit part in Latin America’s endless looped film of student heroes: Castro, Che, Allende, the Sandinistas, and now Chávez. He, at least, is the genuine article. The thing such leaders have in common is a defiant self-reliance, characteristic of Latin America, a reaction against the superpower to the north and a consequence of our own indifference. (continue reading… )

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