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January 19, 2006

La Paz Effect in Pakistan

The ripple effect of Evo Morales’s stunning presidential win in Bolivia is being felt – and closely watched – as far away as Pakistan, as shown by a recent op-ed in The News, one of Pakistan’s leading English dailies.

The recent sweep of left leaning presidents in Latin America (referring to the election of anti-neo liberal candidates in Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay, Venezuela and Chile, as well as Bolivia, over the past year) is instructive for Pakistan, writes Farooq Sulehria: “Latin America was the first continent turned into a laboratory for neo-liberal experiments. Ironically, it also is the first to stand up in rebellion.” While Pakistani President Musharraf is “busy implementing…come what will” the free trade and privatization directives of the World Bank and IMF, Sulehria argues that there are lessons to be learned for Pakistan about the rising of Latin resistance to this model:

“By opening up economies to ‘market forces’, Latin American countries were promised significant poverty reduction. In fact, what happened was a significant increase in the hold exercised over Latin American economies by multinationals, especially US corporations. Between 1990, and 2002, multinational corporations acquired 4,000 banking, telecommunications, transport, petrol and mining interests in Latin America.”

Sulehria closes with this warning:

“For the last two decades, Washington has forced neoliberalism (read poverty) down third world throats in order to make the world better for US business. To many the US economic empire, spreading at gunpoint, seemed unassailable. But now, unable to defeat rag-tag Iraqi militias and rapidly losing allies in Latin America, the empire stands exposed to others on the globe. Others, including Pakistan, are watching and learning.”

DAVID MONTERO reports from Islamabad, Pakistan for the Christian Science Monitor.

Posted January 19, 2006 10:55 PM


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