US Embassy in Lima, “President Morales blasts neoliberal model during Peru visit,” 8 Aug. 2007:
During his first visit to Peru as Bolivian President August 1, Evo Morales met with President Garcia to discuss bilateral integration, addressed Peru’s Congress, and met with local indigenous and labor leaders. In his speech to Congress, Morales called for an end to discrimination, railed against the neoliberal economic model and said he owed his political ascent to the coca leaf. While public reaction to Morales’ visit was generally muted, his ideologically no-holds-barred Congressional speech and his call to support Cuba drew criticism from government and opinion leaders.
Morales’ interventions in Congress and in public were less conducive to smooth bilateral relations. During his speech to Congress, Morales drew a sharp contrast with his hosts’ economic policies by praising the success of hydrocarbon nationalization in Bolivia. Nationalization, he said, had created the first fiscal surpluses in decades, and should be followed by the nationalization of other resources. He then blasted the neoliberal economic model, which he argued had plundered the natural resources of whole countries while benfitting small privileged groups at the expense of the majority. “It is time to close the open veins of Latin America,” Morales said (quoting the title of Eduardo Galeano’s infamous dependency theory tract).
The Peruvian leadership’s measured response to Morales’ provocations should be understood in context. For one, Garcia is keenly aware of the Bolivian President’s roots in social protest and sympathizes with his message of ending poverty, social injustice and exclusion. It’s the proposed solution that causes grief. On this score, Garcia and his government are like concerned parents listening to the outraged antics of an adolescent child who is grappling with the bitter realities of the world and suddenly wielding big ideas for solving them. They understand but believe they know better, having learned that much from their own past.