International News

Bolivia Now Officially Less Third-World Than We Are

Two weeks ago, WikiLeaks revealed that U.S. diplomats believe Bolivian President Evo Morales has a sinus tumor. If true, our only question is: Where do we get one of those for our political leaders?

Tumor or no, Morales is making more sense than usual. Last Friday, the man who once said chicken makes people gay and bald signed a law reducing the retirement age for Bolivians, just as most countries around the world -- including the U.S. -- are considering doing the opposite.

The bill also nationalizes the pension system and extends coverage to poor Bolivians who work in the country's large informal economy.

Other changes:

  • Mothers of three or more children can retire at 55
  • Some miners can retire as early as 51
  • The general retirement age for men and women will be 58
Morales, an avid socialist, has nationalized natural gas, telephone, and electrical companies in the past, redistributing much of the proceeds to poor, indigenous Bolivians. Those policies have led to fierce confrontations with wealthy landowners in the resource-rich Media Luna (Half Moon) region in the east of Bolivia. The country remains one of the poorest in the western hemisphere.

If only Rick Scott similarly contracted a charitable streak upon taking office. Then again, cyborgs don't get tumors, do they?

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Michael E. Miller was a staff writer at Miami New Times for five years. His work for New Times won many national awards, including back-to-back-to-back Sigma Delta Chi medallions. He now covers local enterprise for the Washington Post.