Date: Sun Sep 03 2006 - 08:38:20 EDT
Selections from _Der Spiegel_ interview of Evo Morales, "Capitalism Has Only Hurt Latin America" follow. Full interview at: <http://info.interactivist.net/article.pl?sid=06/09/02/1439227> "Capitalism Has Only Hurt Latin America" Evo Morales, Der Spiegel SPIEGEL: Mr. President, why is such a large part of Latin America moving to the left? Morales: Injustice, inequality and the poverty of the masses compel us to seek better living conditions. Bolivia's majority Indian population was always excluded, politically oppressed and culturally alienated. Our national wealth, our raw materials, was plundered. Indios were once treated like animals here. In the 1930s and 40s, they were sprayed with DDT to kill the vermin on their skin and in their hair whenever they came into the city. My mother wasn't even allowed to set foot in the capital of her native region, Oruro. Now we're in the government and in parliament. For me, being leftist means fighting against injustice and inequality but, most of all, we want to live well. SPIEGEL: What influence did Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have on the nationalization of Bolivia's natural resources? Morales: None whatsoever. Neither Cuba nor Venezuela was involved. I managed the nationalization myself. Only seven of my closest associates knew about the decree and the date. Although I did meet Chavez and (Cuban leader) Fidel Castro in Cuba a few days before the announcement, we didn't talk about nationalization. I had already signed the decree before I departed for Cuba, and the vice president gave it to the cabinet. When Fidel asked me in Cuba how far the project had progressed, I told him that we planned to announce the nationalization in the coming days, but I didn't give him a date. Fidel warned me to wait until the constitutional convention. Chavez wasn't aware of anything. SPIEGEL: Chavez wants to install a socialism for the 21st century in Venezuela. His ideological advisor Heinz Dieterich, a German, was recently in Bolivia. Do you intend to introduce socialism in Bolivia? Morales: If socialism means that we live well, that there is equality and justice, and that we have no social and economic problems, then I welcome it. SPIEGEL: You admire Fidel Castro as the "grandfather of all Latin American revolutionaries." What have you learned from him? Morales: Solidarity, most of all. Fidel helps us a great deal. He has donated seven eye clinics and 20 basic hospitals. Cuban doctors have already performed 30,000 free cataract operations for Bolivians. Five thousand Bolivians from poor backgrounds are studying medicine at no charge in Cuba. SPIEGEL: The Americans are worried that Chavez is gaining too much influence. Aren't you making yourself dependent on Venezuela? Morales: What unites us with Chavez is the concept of the integration of South America. This is the old dream of a great fatherland, a dream that existed even before the Spanish conquest, and Simon Bolivar fought for it later on. We want a South America modeled after the European Union, with a currency like the euro, one that's worth more than the dollar. Chavez's oil is unimportant for Bolivia. We only get diesel under favorable terms. But we are not dependent on Venezuela. We complement each other. Venezuela shares its wealth with other countries, but that doesn't make us subordinate. SPIEGEL: The Latin American left is fracturing into a moderate, social democratic current, led by Lula and Bachelet, and a radical, populist movement represented by Castro, Chavez and yourself. Isn't Chavez dividing the continent? Morales: There are social democrats and others who are marching more in the direction of equality, whether you call them socialists or communists. But at least Latin America no longer has racist or fascist presidents like it did in the past. Capitalism has only hurt Latin America.
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