James Petras on Evo Morales’s Left credentials

James Petras, one of the most authoritative US commentors on the Left movements in Latin America criticizes the popular misconceptions about Evo Morales as a staunch Leftist.

All the data on Evo Morales’ politics, especially since 2002, point to a decided right turn, from mass struggle to electoral politics, a shift toward operating inside Congress and with institutional elites. Evo has turned from supporting popular uprisings to backing one or another neo-liberal President. His style is populist, his dress informal. He speaks the language of the people. He is photogenic, personable and charismatic. He mixes well with street venders and visits the homes of the poor. But what political purpose do all these populist gestures and symbols serve? His anti-neo-liberal rhetoric will not have any meaning if he invites more foreign investors to plunder iron, gas, oil, magnesium and other prime materials. Systemic transformations do not follow from upholding illegal privatizations, the maintenance of the financial and business elites of La Paz and Cochabamba and the agro-business oligarchy of Santa Cruz.At best, Evo will promote some marginal increases in property and royalty taxes, and perhaps increase some social spending on welfare services (but always limited by a tight fiscal budget). Political power will be shared between the new upwardly mobile petit bourgeois of the MAS office holders and the old economic oligarchs.

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