Bolivia's Evo Morales proves socialism can work

Evo Morales

After Evo Morales was reelected president of Bolivia for a third term by a landslide last Monday, he proclaimed his victory "a triumph of the anti-colonialists and anti-imperialists" and dedicated his win to both Castro and Chávez.

Writing in the Guardian, Ellie Mae O'Hagin notes that Morales has dumbfounded critics in Washington, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

In typical fashion, those organization and the supporting press denigrate and ridicule leaders like Morales who defy their dictates and act in the interest of their people.

O'Hagin notes "Much like the now deceased Hugo Chávez, Morales is often depicted as a buffoonish populist whose flamboyant denouncements of the United States belie his incompetence."

Hugo Chavez,Evo Morales,Lula da Silva, Rafael Correa
Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, Lula da Silva, and Rafael Correa: Four leaders who sought to transform their countries

She writes that "Morales’s enduring popularity is a result of his extraordinary socio-economic reforms, which – according to the New York Times – have transformed Bolivia from an “economic basket case” into a country that receives praise from such unlikely contenders as the World Bank and the IMF – an irony considering the country’s success is the result of the socialist administration casting off the recommendations of the IMF (and other huge international lending organizations) in the first place."

The New York Times itself notes Bolivia's "economy grew an estimated 6.5 percent last year, among the strongest rates in the region. Inflation has been kept in check. The budget is balanced, and once-crippling government debt has been slashed. And the country has a rainy-day fund of foreign reserves so large — for the size of its economy — that it could be the envy of nearly every other country in the world... The portion of the population living in extreme poverty fell to 24 percent in 2011, down from 38 percent in 2005, the year before Mr. Morales took office."

O'Hagin writes:

" it’s clear that what he’s done already has been remarkable. He has defied the conventional wisdom that says leftwing policies damage economic growth, that working-class people can’t run successful economies, and that politics can’t be transformative – and he’s done all of this in the face of enormous political pressure from the IMF, the international business community and the US government. In the success of Morales, important political lessons can be found – and perhaps we could all do with learning them."

Read more here, here, and here.