Catholics oppose Bolivia control freak government

Washington Times:

The Catholic Church is taking on a growing political role in opposing President Evo Morales, whom it accuses of seeking an "excessive concentration of power" in his bid to remake Bolivia as a socialist state.

The hostility is mutual, with Mr. Morales and officials in his government warning the church to stay out of politics.

While elsewhere in Latin America, the church has become identified with movements of the poor, in Bolivia, religious leaders are defending activists in the wealthiest part of the nation -- the eastern lowlands that hold natural gas, oil and other resources.

"The Catholic Church has become a syndicate of opposition to the government," Mr. Morales told supporters in a recent speech as tensions escalated over a January referendum on a proposed constitution. "The Catholic Church and the media are the only opposition I have left."

Threats and verbal attacks from both sides have escalated in recent days, after more than a dozen activists sought refuge from authorities in a church compound in the eastern city of Santa Cruz, the country's economic center and a bastion of opposition to Mr. Morales.

"Bolivia is becoming a country without God or law," Cardinal Julio Terrazas warned in one of his homilies over the Christmas holidays.

Cardinal Terrazas and other church leaders, mainly in the east, have been especially critical of the proposed constitution, a centerpiece of Mr. Morales' efforts.

"Its excessive concentration of power in the executive breaks the necessary balance and independence between the branches of government," said a document released by the Bolivian Episcopal Conference, a group of Catholic bishops, in March.

...

Morales is a control freak socialist who lacks the persuasive power to get cooperation from opposition forces who are resisting his confiscatory policies on resources. Morales seems intent on going down the failed path of those who embrace the command economy. It will fail as all such command economy models have failed from the Soviet Union to Cuba. The command economy model is a disaster whether it is tried in Zimbabwe or Bolivia. What is interesting about Bolivia is that the Catholic church is making a stand against this failed model. In too many South American countries the Catholic church has had people who embraced the failure.

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