Chavez, Russia gaining influence throughout Latin America

Sunday, September 28, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CDT

Loory: Important changes are taking place in Latin America. In Bolivia, President Evo Morales, an indigenous Indian, has pledged to bring the benefits of his country's natural gas and mineral wealth to the people of the mountains. Morales is opposed by leaders in provinces where the gas exists and the population is largely descended from Europeans, not indigenous Bolivians. Last month, there was a referendum proposing recall of the president from office, but Morales won more votes than in the original election. He now wants to reform the country's constitution, giving him more power. The United States government has opposed Morales. In response, Morales has expelled the American ambassador and shut U.S. aid organizations working in Bolivia. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is Morales' ally. In Paraguay, leftist Roman Catholic Bishop Fernando Lugo was elected president last spring and took office last month. Bring us up-to-date with what is going on in Bolivia.