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Participate in Bolivian democracy! Rape a reporter!

It's not exactly television, but...

Evomorales Let's see if you could pass a Latin American civics course. Which is more democratic: Country H, where all political institutions united to oust a president who was mobilizing mobs to help him defy the constitution and stay in power? Or Country B, where the president was reelected after taking congress hostage, jailing one of his opponents without charges, blowing up independent TV stations and sending his supporters to savagely club and whip the wife and children of an opposition leader?

Anyone with common sense would pick Country H. And any Latin American president would pick Country B. When the region's leaders (read the word with irony, revulsion or both) met at an Iberoamerican summit in Portugal earlier this month, they unanimously voted to condemn Honduras, which had just emerged from some rough political waters to hold reasonably free and fair elections.

But they didn't have a single word to say about Bolivia, which seems well on its way to becoming a one-party state. President Evo Morales, whose dedication to the principles of democracy has won him the support of not just Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez but Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, brags that his reelection this month means he has ``a mandate to accelerate this revolutionary process.''

Or maybe it just means that when you send mobs to beat up congressmen who are reluctant to rewrite the constitution to allow your reelection, when your supporters publicly threaten to rape reporters who write critical stories and when your paramilitary forces slit the throats of dogs and promise the same fate to anybody who opposes you, you stand a pretty fair shot at getting the most votes. Read my full op-ed column in Tuesday's Miami Herald.

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