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Bolivia's Evo Morales: Introducing the Axis of Humanity

April 25, 2008 |  3:46 pm

The new Latin American Cold War smolders in Bolivia. President Evo Morales says the yanquis are out to get him. The "chief of the conspiracy,'' the leftist leader told the Argentine daily Critica, is Philip S. Goldberg, the U.S. ambassador in La Paz. The State Department denies any such plots, but it brings to mind an old Latin American adage: Why has there never been a coup in the United States? Because there's no U.S. embassy in Washington....Evo_and_chavez

Morales' government has lunged from crisis to crisis, skirting implosions. But Bolivia now faces a crucial juncture: The relatively wealthy eastern province of Santa Cruz, a hotbed of anti-Morales sentiment, votes for autonomy May 4. Morales labels the vote illegal, treasonous -- a U.S.-backed conspiracy by the "oligarchs'' to undermine his democratically elected government. Morales' major ally and benefactor, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, calls the vote "Operation Kosovo'' -- a plot to split up Bolivia and create a pro-Washington rump state in the east.

But Morales vows he will be on the winning side -- the "Axis of Humanity,'' as he calls the Chavez-led alliance of the left, in a riposte to the Bush administration's "Axis of Evil.'' The "next step'' in building up the Axis of Humanity, Morales said, is change in Peru and Colombia -- South America's last two major center-right governments. Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde called Morales' comments "a lamentable impertinence.''

-- Patrick J. McDonnell and Andres D'Alessandro in Buenos Aires.

Photo: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, right, and Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales in Caracas this month. (Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images).