Bolivia’s socialist resurgence will not concern the Biden administration

BOLIVIA may have just overwhelmingly voted in a socialist – but it’s unlikely to be the focus of a Biden administration’s foreign policy, an expert has said.

Luis Arce’s victory in October was a leftist blunt in any of Washington’s hawkish plans for the continent.

While Trump paid little attention to the matter, there was unease that a more competent, focused Biden administration could target leftist leaders in Bolivia and Venezuela.

But Arce’s prediction of “better relations” with the President-elect is more than feasible, according to Professor Daniel Hellinger of Webster University, who claimed they had more chance of ousting the Bolivian left under Trump.

READ MORE: Patience, memories and a weak, neoliberal opposition – how MAS and Morales returned to power in Bolivia

He told Redaction Politics: “I don’t think the animus to Morales was ever as pronounced, and now it is even less so with Arce’s decisive election victory and his intention to maintain pro-foreign investment policies in mining, especially in lithium. 

“Bolivia will not just be on the back burner; it will be off the stove for a while. With Trump’s departure, the authoritarian religious right in Bolivia will lose its direct pipeline to the White House.

“However, it retains that connection to the Republican Party though the rapidly consolidating network of the evangelical right.

“If the Republicans hold the Senate, there may be some posturing on Bolivia, but I don’t see it being high on the new administration’s agenda.”

Regardless, he claimed, a Biden administration is more likely to shift its focus to Europe and China instead of South America.

“Biden’s priorities in foreign policy are likely to be focused on repairing relations with Europe and dealing with tensions with China,” Professor Hellinger said.

“Latin American policy will be left to the State Department than the White House. 

“One major exception will be attempting to stem the tide of migration northward, because the Democratic party is very vulnerable politically to a resurgence of right-wing nationalism over immigration and border issues.

“This would require a major shift away from the concept of ‘economic development’ typically supported by both Democratic and Republican presidents in the past, and that’ snot likely to happen.”

Another exception may be Colombia, where the implementation of a US-backed Peace Plan has been thwarted by armed groups. Even then, any intervention is likely to be political pressure to force a solution rather than any outright coup.

Professor Hellinger said: “It is an area where US pressure on the Colombian government in support of civil society could make positive difference.

“But Biden was a major promotor of “Plan Colombia,” the military aid program to Colombia that ratcheted up the drug wars.”

Last month Pablo Beltran, leader of the National Liberation Army, said: “Biden represents the empire, but the empire also has to see that their policies in Latin America are wearing out.

“The problem is not only to promote a war on drugs, which is also very worn out. So, if you look at the continental environment, the United States has to look for another way of doing its policy that is not to impose.

“The opposite of imposing is to seek negotiated solutions, dialogue.”

Daniel Hellinger is Professor of International Relations at Webster University and has just completed the third edition of his text, Comparative Politics of Latin America: Can Democracy Last?

Featured Image: EneasMx @WikimediaCommons

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