Thursday, February 18, 2016

Bolivian Corruption

Both The New York Times and Miami Herald have stories on the revelation that Bolivian President Evo Morales has had a love child with the Bolivian executive of a Chinese company. That company has won vast government contracts to build infrastructure. Graft is alleged.

Morales blames the U.S. for the embarrassing information getting out, as is common among Latin caudillos who love to demonize Americans. The timing of the story is propitious as Morales is trying to get the constitution changed so he can run again.

It's a usual move in would-be autocrats, one we've seen repeatedly throughout the region. It's likely the allegations of graft will cost him votes in the constitutional referendum this weekend. As is often the case, Miami Herald's Andres Oppenheimer has the definitive comment:
The Zapata case, like other Morales government corruption cases before, proves that there’s no such thing as a benevolent autocrat.

Countries without strong systems of checks and balances sooner or later result in massive corruption and mismanagement. Morales’ authoritarian rule — which he now wants to extend for another term that could allow him to stay in power until 2025 — is breeding massive corruption, and a foreign debt with China that will haunt Bolivians for generations. 
True, but Morales had a heck of a good time in office. Bolivians should be happy for him, no? Hat tip to RealClearWorld for the links.