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A Different Latin America

New York Times editorial
December 24, 2005

Bolivia's recent presidential election was almost as history making as Iraq's parliamentary vote. The winner, Evo Morales, will be the first member of the indigenous majority to run Bolivia since the conquistadors arrived nearly five centuries ago. His victory was one of the most decisive since the return of democracy more than two decades ago, ending an era of weak, unstable and ineffective governments.

But do not expect any toasts from the Bush administration. During the campaign, Mr. Morales advertised himself as Washington's "nightmare." He opposes almost everything the Bush team stands for in Latin America, from combating coca leaf production to privatizing natural resources and liberalizing trade. His favorite Latin leaders are Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Fidel Castro of Cuba. And the political popularity of these anti-Washington positions is part of a growing regional trend.

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