From Socialist Voice, February 2010


Latin American news

Evo Morales celebrated the start of his second term as President of Bolivia by shaking the political establishment throughout Latin America to its foundations. In what is a traditional machismo society, Morales has laid down a mark by swearing in his new cabinet with an equal number of women and men.
     The women come from a variety of areas, including economists, doctors, workers, and also three indigenous social activists. Female members of the cabinet will look after the departments of Culture, Health, Environment, Anti-Corruption, Development Planning and Productive Development as well as, for the first time, the important Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
     Morales, visibly moved, said: “My great dream has come true: half the members of my cabinet are women, and half are men.” Morales, since his days as a trade union activist, has always stressed that it is essential for women to be involved in political struggle and has always striven for equal participation between both sexes. When Morales’s new constitution took effect in February 2009 it promised gender equality in his cabinet. He has clearly kept to his word.
     Morales has also opened the way for the election of a woman, Ana María Romero of his governing Movement to Socialism (MAS), as president of the Senate. This is a massive milestone for gender equality in Bolivia. Indeed under Morales the number of women in parliament has more than doubled, from 22 to 46.
     Morales has played a large part in helping women emerge in Bolivian society. However, it should be recognised also that women were deeply involved as indigenous and community activists in the movement for change that brought Evo Morales to power. This important participation is now being recognised. Indeed women fronted many of the roadblocks and organised demonstrations in Bolivia against the hated free-market policies that were enforced by governments between 1985 and 2005.
     This is a massive victory, not just for Bolivian women but for women all over the world.

Coup leaders still in power in Honduras

While a new President has been sworn in to power in Honduras and the rightful President, Manuel Zelaya, has gone into exile in the Dominican Republic, no-one should be in any doubt that the coup leaders remain in power. Porfirio Lobo, who won the discredited “elections” held last November, was and is a keen supporter of the military coup of the 28th of June.
     With the majority of Hondurans boycotted the “elections,” the poll was held under conditions approaching state terror. There were also clearly fraudulent actions, including when the illegally appointed Supreme Electoral Authority announced the turn-out to be 12 per cent higher than its own officially published figures. While this was clearly a fraudulent act, Lobo, his Yankee ally Hilary Clinton and other supporters accepted it as truth, in order to use it to bring legitimacy to the “election.” It should also be noted that no international observers were present for the poll, as the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, had declared on the 23rd of September that the conditions for free and fair elections did not exist.
     On the 20th of January the Inter-American Human Rights Commission issued a 147-page report citing human rights abuses, including political assassinations and the prohibiting of critical voices. The report went as far as to condemn “an egregious, arbitrary, unnecessary and disproportionate restriction, in violation of international law, of the right of every Honduran to express himself or herself freely, and to receive information from a plurality and diversity of sources.”
     Barack Obama has made Honduras an important battleground for his Latin American “roll-back” strategy. His presidency has been aggressively lobbying Latin American countries to recognise Lobo as legitimate president of Honduras. Obama is also supportive of the Honduran Congress’s decision to give an amnesty to those behind the coup and the human rights abuses that they committed.
     It is now clearer than ever that Obama is not a friend of Latin America and does not see Latin American countries as equal partners. The US involvement in the coup in Honduras, its manipulation of the Haïtian tragedy, the continuation of the blockade against Cuba and its installing of military bases in Colombia prove this conclusively.

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