Snubbing the West, Bolivia Waxes Red

Country turns to Chávez, socialism, in lieu of IMF cash
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2007 10:18 AM CDT
Snubbing the West, Bolivia Waxes Red
A woman walks beneath a government billboard in the city of El Alto featuring the faces of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, left, and Cuba's Fidel Castro, center, alongside Bolivia's President Evo Morales, Wednesday, April 4, 2007. Morales this week announced plans to nationalize Bolivia's largest telecommunications...   (Associated Press)

(Newser) – Bolivia’s populist president is traveling his country handing out aid—straight from his anti-American neighbor Hugo Chávez. The Washington Post reports that Evo Morales has been taking more than a cue from Chávez, using the Venezuelan leader's cash to fund social welfare programs and build clinics and schools, while balking at the investment in private enterprise favored by the West.

Morales dropped the anti-inflation, pro-privatization strategy known as the "Washington Consensus" and, along with other South American allies, is paying off IMF debts—freeing him to nationalize industries and adopt other “pragmatic” socialist policies forbidden by the lender. But both the US and Morales' opposition slam the handouts as a short-term fix. "They don't create long-term sustainable growth," a political opponent said. (Read more Hugo Chavez stories.)

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