[Marxism] South African press on Evo Morales visit
lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Jan 9 06:27:21 MST 2006
Bolivian leader on learning visit
South America's first indigenous elected president feels he can learn from
SA's experience of racial and class reconciliation, writes Peter Fabricius
January 6, 2006
By Peter Fabricius
Bolivia's controversial populist president-elect, Evo Morales, is scheduled
to visit South Africa next week to meet President Mbeki, former president
Nelson Mandela and other local political leaders to learn at first hand
about SA's transition and its possible lessons for his own country.
As the first indigenous person to be elected president in South America,
Morales believes he can learn a lot from SA's experience about the racial
and class reconciliation that is going to be necessary when he takes over
Bolivia after his inauguration on January 22. Indigenous people constitute
about 60% of Bolivia's population, whites of Spanish origin about 18% and
people of mixed-race, about 20%.
Morales's election is causing jitters among conservatives throughout the
Americas - especially in Washington, because of his left-wing views,
including promises to nationalise Bolivia's gas resources. Some see him as
the next wave, after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez - in a socialist
tsunami that will engulf the continent. His visit to SA is part of a world
tour, which is being sponsored by the Club de Madrid, an influential group
of former world leaders which includes former US president Bill Clinton
and, most recently, former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano.
Apart from SA, Morales will also visit Spain, France, Brazil and China on
the tour. The idea seems to be for the veterans to show the rookie more
about how the world is run. The SA pro-democracy organisation, Idasa, is
arranging Morales's visit on behalf of the Club de Madrid, Director Ivor
Jenkins confirmed yesterday. He said Idasa was still trying to confirm the
meetings with Mbeki - who is still on leave - and Mandela.
The visit was conceived when Roelf Meyer, former chief negotiator for the
old National Party government and the ANC's Ebrahim Ebrahim visited Bolivia
last year - before Morales was elected - to participate in discussions
about a constituent assembly which the Bolivians are planning, to establish
and draft a new constitution.
Meyer said yesterday that despite the fact that Bolivia had had a
democratic constitution for decades, the indigenous majority felt the need
for a new constitution because they felt they had been "left aside", in
Bolivia. Meyer said they had met Morales during that visit, found him "a
very pleasant person" and invited him to SA to learn more about the
drafting of the constitution and the more general process of
reconciliation. "He immediately accepted." Jenkins said that Morales was
also scheduled to meet ANC Secretary-General Kgalema Motlanthe, and SACP
leaders Blade Nzimande and Jeremy Cronin - and possibly Freedom Front
leader Pieter Mulder.
"Morales has an issue of how to bring right-wing business leaders and
militants - as well as left-wing militants - into the process," he said.
Mulder could help him. Though Morales has alarmed conservatives, some South
Africans who have encountered him believe that his rhetoric is mostly
designed for popular consumption and he is more of a nationalist
legitimately seeking a better deal for his people.
They believe he is a rough diamond who will lose some of his rough edges
and gain more polish when he actually has to run his country. Mbeki quite
enthusiastically welcomed Morales's election as a sign "that the tide of
change continues to sweep through Latin America, bringing with it the hope
of political and economic transformation and development for your country
and indeed the region as a whole".
Some see that as Mbeki's backing for the socialist "tsunami" which may or
may not be flowing over the continent. But SA official sources say not,
insisting rather that it is merely Mbeki's expression of support for the
general tide of democraticisation which has already covered much of the
continent. We shall see. But it is encouraging that Morales wants to learn
from SA. He could do worse than emulating the ANC example of how to adapt
socialist ideology to the real world.
More information about the Marxism