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Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Evo Morales speaks

This morning, Democracy Now! broadcast a long interview with Bolivian President Evo Morales, which is certainly worth listening to/reading. But in some respects, the more interesting (and surprising) interview was the one that occurred last night on The Daily Show. Surprising because this was perhaps the most serious interview Jon Stewart has ever conducted; one got the impression he was more cowed and awed by the presence of Evo Morales than he ever has been in the presence of, say, Henry Kissinger or Madeleine Albright or Bill Clinton, or even another "President" he has interviewed, Pervez Musharraf.

I don't believe there's a transcript, so I transcribed parts of it which I present here. First, a lesson in class politics:

Jon Stewart: How does a poor farmer without high school education become the first indigenous President of Boliia?

Evo Morales: I understand that we all have rights. It's not just professionals and intellectuals who can become President, people who have other experiences, who have a working life as well, can also become President. Therefore indigenous persons can also become President.

Stewart: In Bolivia...[PAUSE FOR LAUGHTER]...In America, it's a little rigged.

Morales: So if it's rigged, something needs to be done to change that. [APPLAUSE]
By the way, Morales (and Stewart) seem a little confused about politics in America. If only it were "professionals and intellectuals" who became President!

And second, a more or less nonsensical non-question from Stewart, revealing his conventional American "wisdom"-reflecting antipathy to Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, followed by a very interesting answer from Morales:

Stewart: We have a tendancy to group the South American leaders. If you visit Castro, if you visit Chavez, then we all of a sudden get...scared. And so that understanding and dialog is important for us to open up as well.

Morales: I know that we're different not only within nations but among nations as well. Those difference among the various nations must be respected. But what better among political leaders, Presidents, or with social movement leaders, then coming together to think about how we can support life and humankind. And it's my sense that in this new millenium it should be the millenium of life. And from here, or from Cuba, Venezuela, Europe, Africa, we need to create and come together to save lives and to save humankind.

In recent days at the United Nations I have heard a lot of talk about global warming, climate change, but they don't say why, where all that is coming from. There appear to be few political leaders or movements that say where is all this coming from. Perhaps from a Western culture. Perhaps excesses in relation to industry. Or perhaps because of excessive luxury. Excessive consumption. And if we all think about humankind, we need to figure about how we can change that situation.

And I personally know that there are Presidents and countries that send troops abroad to save lives, but there are also countries and Presidents that send troops abroad to take away lives. If we compare these two things and weigh these two things, certainly we're going to come to the conclusion that in this millenium, the key guideline must be to save lives.

And please don't consider me to be part of the axis of evil. [LAUGHTER]
Update: The entire Morales interview is now on YouTube, although it won't last long because it will be removed for copyright violations, as I have found out (Comedy Central does not allow reposting its shows on YouTube, but it does have it's own archives online where you can watch some past shows or segments).

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