The International Campaign to Destabilize Bolivia

The US Is Preparing to Oust President Evo Morales

Strategic Culture Foundation

September 6, 2016

By Nil Nikandrov


The US Is Preparing to Oust President Evo Morales


US intelligence agencies have ramped up their operations intended to remove Bolivian President Evo Morales from office. All options are on the table, including assassination. Barack Obama, who sees the weakening of Latin America’s “hostile bloc of populist states” as one of his administration’s foreign-policy victories, intends to buoy this success before stepping down.

Washington also feels under the gun in Bolivia because of China’s successful expansion in the country. Morales is steadily strengthening his financial, economic, trade, and military relationship with Beijing. Chinese businesses in La Paz are thriving – making investments and loans and taking part in projects to secure a key position for Bolivia in the modernization of the continent’s transportation industry. In the next 10 years, thanks to Bolivia’s plentiful gas reserves, that country will become the energy hub of South America. Evo Morales sees his country’s development as his top priority, and the Chinese, unlike the Americans, have always viewed Bolivia as an ally and partner in a relationship that eschews double standards.

The US embassy in La Paz has been without an ambassador since 2008. He was declared persona non grata because of his subversive activities. The interim chargé d’affaires is currently Peter Brennan, and pointed questions have been raised about what agency he truly works for. He was previously stationed in Pakistan, where “difficult decisions” had to be made about assassinations, but most of his career has been spent handling Latin American countries. In particular, Brennan was responsible for introducing the ZunZuneo service into Cuba (an illegal program dubbed the “Cuban Twitter”). USAID fronted this CIA program, under the innocent pretext of helping to inform Cubans about cultural and sporting events and other international news. Once ZunZuneo was in place, there were plans to use this program to mobilize the population in preparation for a “Cuban Spring”. When reading about Brennan one often encounters the phrase – “dark horse”. He is used to getting what he wants, at any cost, and his tight deadline in Bolivia (before the end of Obama’s presidency) is forcing Brennan to take great risks.

Previously, Brennan had “distinguished himself” during the run-up to the referendum on allowing President Evo Morales to run for reelection in 2019, as well as during the vote itself. To encourage “no” votes, the US embassy mobilized its entire propaganda machine, roused to action the NGOs under its control, and allocated considerable additional funds for the staging of protests. It is telling that many of those culminated in the burning of photographs of Morales wearing his presidential sash. A record-setting volley of dirt was fired at the president. Accusations of corruption were the most common, although Morales has always been open about his personal finances. It would have been hard to pin ownership of “$43 billion in offshore accounts” on him, as was done to Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro.

Brennan also has agreements in place with Washington about other operations to compromise the Bolivian president. An attack was launched by the CIA agent Carlos Valverde Bravo, a well-known TV journalist and former agent with Bolivia’s security services. In his Feb. 3 program he accused Morales’s former companion, Gabriela Zapata, the commercial manager of the Chinese company CAMC Engineering Co, of orchestrating shady business deals worth $500 million. Insinuations simultaneously began circulating on the Internet about the Bolivian president’s involvement in those, although Morales completely broke ties with Zapata back in 2007 and has spared no individual, regardless of name and rank, in his battle against corruption.

The “exposés” staged by the US embassy continued until the day of the referendum itself on Feb. 21, 2016. The “no” votes prevailed, despite the favorable trend that had been indicated in the voter polls. Morales accepted defeat with his Indian equanimity, but in his statements after the referendum he was clear that the US embassy had waged a hostile campaign.

The investigation into Gabriela Zapata revealed that she had capitalized on her previous relationship with Morales to further her career. She was offered a position with the Chinese company CAMC and took possession of a luxury home in an upscale neighborhood in La Paz, making a big show of her “closeness” to the Bolivian leader, although he played no role in any of this. This was the same reason she tried to initiate a business and personal relationship with the president’s chief of staff, Juan Ramón Quintana. He has categorically denied having ever met Zapata.

Gradually, all the CIA’s fabricated evidence disintegrated. Zapata is now testifying, and her lawyer has holed up abroad because his contacts with the Americans have been exposed. The American agent Valverde Bravo has fled to Argentina. Accusations against Morales are being hurled from there with renewed vigor. The attack continues. It’s all quite logical: a continually repeated lie is an effective weapon in this newest generation of information warfare. The latest example was the ouster of Dilma Rousseff, who was accused of corruption by officials whom her government had identified as corrupt!

The US military has been increasing its presence in Bolivia in recent months. For example, Colonel Felando Pierre Thigpen visited the department of Santa Cruz, where there are strong separatist leanings. Thigpen is known to be involved in a joint program between the Pentagon and CIA to recruit and train potential personnel for American intelligence. In commentary by Bolivian bloggers and in publications about Thigpen, it isnoted that the colonel was dispatched to the country on the eve of events related to “the impending replacement of a government that has exhausted its potential, as well as the need to recruit alternative young personalities into the new leadership structure.” Some comments have indicated that Thigpen is overseeing the work of diplomats Peter Brennan and Erik Foronda, a media and press advisor at the US embassy.

The embassy responded by stating that Thigpen had arrived in Bolivia “at his own initiative”, but it is no secret that he was invited to “work with youth” by NGOs that coordinate their activities with the Americans: the Foundation for Leadership and Integral Development (FULIDEI), the Global Transformation Network (RTG), the Bolivian School of Heroes (EHB), and others. So Thigpen’s work is not being improvised, but is rather a direct challenge to Morales’s government. Domestically, the far-right party Christian Democratic Party provides him with political cover.

The US plans to destabilize Bolivia – which were provided to Evo Morales’s government by an unnamed friendly country – include a step-by-step chronogram of the actions plotted by the Americans. For example: “To spark hunger strikes and mass mobilizations and to stir up conflicts within universities, civil organizations, indigenous communities, and varied social circles, as well as within government institutions. To strike up acquaintances with both active-duty and retired military officers, with the goal of undercutting the government’s credibility within the armed forces. It is absolutely essential to train the military for a crisis scenario, so that in an atmosphere of growing social conflict they will lead an uprising against the regime and support the protests in order to ensure a peaceful transition to democracy.”

The program’s first fruits have been the emergence of social protests (recent marches by disabled citizens were staged at the suggestion of the American embassy), although Evo Morales’s administration has evinced more concern for the interests of Bolivians on a limited income than any other government in the history of Bolivia.

The scope of the operation to oust President Morales – financed and directed by US intelligence agencies – continues to expand. The Americans’ biggest adversary in Latin America has been sentenced to a fate of “neutralization”. Speaking out against Evo Morales, the radical opposition has openly alluded to the fact that it has been a long time since the region has seen a really newsworthy air crash involving a politician who was hostile to Washington…

Bolivia VP Alvaro Garcia Linera on the ebbing Latin American tide

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

September 9, 2016



Defending the Revolution, Venezuela, 2002 [Source]


Extracts of vive-president Garcia Linera’s address at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires (May, 27, 2016).


We are facing a historical turning point in Latin America. Some are talking about a throwback, about restorers moving forward. The truth is that in the last twelve months, after ten years of intense progress, of territorial diffusion of the progressive and revolutionary governments in the continent, this progress has stalled, in some cases it has given ground, and in some other cases its continuity is in doubt. Wherever conservative forces have succeeded, an accelerated process of reconstitution of the old elites of the 80s and 90s, which seek to take control of the management of the state, is under way.

In cultural terms, there is a determined effort by the media, by NGOs, by organic right-wing intellectuals, to devalue, to call in question, and discredit the idea and the project of change and revolution.

They are targeting what can be considered the golden, virtuous Latin American decade.

It has been more than ten years. Since the decade of 2000, in a pluralistic and diverse way, some being more radical than others, some more urban, some more rural, with very different languages but in a very convergent way, Latin America has experienced the period of greatest autonomy and greatest construction of sovereignty that anyone can remember since the founding of the states in the nineteenth century.

The four characteristics of the Latin American virtuous decade

First, the political aspect: social promotion and popular forces taking over state power, overcoming the old turn-of-the-century debate on whether it is possible to change the world without taking power – the popular sectors, workers, peasants, indigenous peoples, women, the under-classes, have outstripped that theoretical and contemplative discussion in a practical way. They have assumed the tasks of controlling the state. They have become representatives, congresspersons, senators, they have taken office, mobilized themselves, pushed back neoliberal policies, they have taken charge of the management of the state, changed public policies, made amendments to budgets. In these ten years we have witnessed popular, plebeian presence in state management.

Second, the strengthening of civil society: trade unions, guilds, settlers, neighbours, students, associations, started to diversify and to multiply in different areas during this decade. The neoliberal night of apathy and democratic simulation was broken, giving way to the recreation of a strong civil society that assumed a set of tasks in conjunction with the new Latin American states.

As far as the social aspect is concerned, in Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Nicaragua, El Salvador, we witnessed a substantial redistribution of social wealth. In opposition to the policies favouring the ultra-concentration of wealth which turned Latin America into one of the most unequal regions in the world, from the decade of 2000 onwards, driven by the progressive and revolutionary governments, a powerful wealth redistribution process got underway. This redistribution of wealth led to a widening of the middle classes, not in the sociological sense of the term, but in the sense of their consumption capacity. The consumption capacity of workers, peasants, indigenous peoples and subordinate social sectors expanded.

The differences between the richest 10% and the poorest 10%, which was 100, 150, 200 times in the 90s, had been reduced at the end of the first decade of the century to 80, 60, 40, in a way that broadened the contribution – and equality – of the different social sectors.

We have experienced post-neoliberal proposals, which have allowed the state to resume a strong role. Some countries carried out processes of nationalization of private companies or create new public enterprises, expanded state involvement in the economy in order to generate post-neoliberal ways of managing the economy, recovered the importance of the domestic market, recovered the importance of the state as a distributor of wealth, and recovered state participation in strategic areas of the economy.

In foreign affairs, we set up an informal, progressive and revolutionary international at continental level. This allowed for great strides in the constitution of our independence. In this decade, the Organisation of American States (OAS) has been offset by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). This represents the evolution of Latin American integration without the United States – without tutelage.

Overall, then, the continent, in this virtuous decade, has carried out political changes: the people’s participation in the construction of a new type of state. Social changes: the redistribution of wealth and the reduction of inequalities. Economy: active state involvement in the economy, the expansion of the domestic market, the creation of new middle classes. Internationally: the political integration of the continent. It is no small feat in only ten years, perhaps the most important years for integration, sovereignty, and independence in our continent since the nineteenth century.

However, we must acknowledge the fact that in recent months the process of diffusion and territorial expansion of the progressive and revolutionary governments has stalled. We are witnessing a comeback of right-wing sectors in some very important and decisive countries in the continent. Obviously, the Right will always try and seek to sabotage the progressive processes. For them, it is an issue of political survival, a question of control and dispute. It is important that we assess what we have done wrong, where we have encountered limits, where we have stumbled – what, in short, has allowed the Right to resume the initiative.

The five limits and the five contradictions of the Latin American virtuous decade

Contradictions within the economy: it is as though we had given little importance to the economic issues within the revolutionary processes. When you are in the opposition, the important things are politics, organization, ideas, and mobilization, along with more or less attractive, credible, structuring proposals. But when you are in government, when you become the state, the economy is crucial. And progressive governments and revolutionary leaders have not always assumed this crucial importance of the economy. Taking care of the economy, expanding redistribution processes, and boosting growth are the pillars of any revolution.

All of Lenin’s writings after War Communism are about the search for ways of restoring the popular sectors’ confidence through economic management, the development of production, distribution and wealth, the deployment of autonomous initiatives by peasants, workers, small and even big businesses, so as to ensure a sound economic foundation for the stability and welfare of the population, given that you cannot build Socialism or Communism in one country; given that economic relations are regulated by the world market, that markets and currencies do not disappear by decree, nor through the nationalisation of the means of production; given that the social and community economy may only arise in a context of global and continental progress. Meanwhile, it is up to each country to resist and create the basic conditions for survival, for the welfare for its people, keeping political power in the hands of the workers. You can make any concessions you want, you can talk to whomever if this helps with economic growth, but you must always guarantee that political power is in the hands of the workers and the revolutionaries.

The discourse must be effective, and create positive collective expectations on the basis of minimum material satisfaction of necessary conditions. If these conditions are not met, any speech, however seductive, however promising, gets diluted.

A second weakness in the economic area: some of the progressive and revolutionary governments have adopted measures that have affected the revolutionary bloc, thus strengthening the conservative one.

Obviously, a government must govern for all – this is the linchpin of the state. But how does one operate in that duality: governing for all, taking all into account, but, first of all, the citizens? No economic policy can obviate the people. When one does this, believing that it will win the support of the Right, or that it will neutralize it, one makes a big mistake, because the Right is never loyal. We can neutralize the business sectors, but they will never be on our side. Whenever they see that the popular side of things is faltering, or when they see weakness, business sectors will not hesitate for a minute to turn against the progressive and revolutionary governments.

You can issue a decree saying that there is no market, but the market will still be there. We can issue a decree putting an end to foreign companies, but the tools for cell phones and machinery will still require universal, planetary knowhow. A country cannot become autarchic. No revolution has endured or will survive in autarky and isolation. Revolution is to be global and continental or it will be a parody.

Obviously, the progressive and revolutionary governments prompted an empowerment of workers, peasants, workers, women, youth, which was more or less radical depending on the country. But political power will not last if it does not go together with the economic power of the popular sectors.

The state is no substitute for workers. It can collaborate, it can improve conditions, but sooner or later it will have to start devolving economic power to the subordinate sectors. Creating economic capacity, building associative productive capacity of the subordinate sectors, this is the key that will decide the possibility of moving from post-neoliberalism to post-capitalism in the future.

The second problem the progressive governments are facing is redistribution of wealth without social politicization. If the expansion of consumption capacity, if the expansion of social justice is not accompanied by social politicization, we are not making common sense. We will have created a new middle class, with consumption capacity, with capacity to satisfy their needs, but they will be carrying the old conservative common sense.

What do I mean by common sense? I mean the intimate, moral and logical precepts by which people organize their lives. It has to do with our intimate basics, with how we stand in the world.

In this regard, the cultural, ideological, spiritual aspects become crucial. There is no real revolution, nor is there consolidation of any revolutionary process, if there is not a profound cultural revolution.

When one is in government it is as important to be a good minister, or member of parliament, as to be a good union, student or local revolutionary leader, because this is where the battle for the common sense is fought.

A third weakness of the progressive and revolutionary governments is moral reform. Clearly, corruption is a cancer that corrodes society – not now, but 15, 20, 100 years ago. Neoliberals are an example of institutionalized corruption for the reason that they turned public affairs into private ones, and they amassed private fortunes by robbing the collective fortunes of the Latin American peoples. Privatizations have been the most outrageous, immoral, indecent, obscene example of widespread corruption. And this we have certainly fought against – but not enough. While restoring as common goods the res publica, public resources, and public goods, it is important that personally, individually, each comrade, President, Vice-President, ministers, directors, members of parliament, managers, in our daily behavior, in our way of being, we never relinquish humility, simplicity, austerity and transparency.

There is an insufflated moral campaign in the media lately. We can make a list of right-wing congressmen, senators, candidates, ministers, who had their companies registered in Panama to evade taxes. They are the corrupt ones, the scoundrels who have the nerve to accuse us of being corrupt, of being scoundrels, of having no morals. But we must insist on showing where we are and what we stand for through our behavior and daily life. We cannot separate what we think from what we do, what we are from what we say.

A fourth element that I would not say has anything to do with weakness, is the issue of the continuity of leadership in democratic regimes. In democratic revolutions, you have to live and put up with your opponents. You have defeated them, you have won in discursive, electoral, political, moral terms, but your opponents are still there. This is a fact that comes with democracy. And constitutions establish limits – 5, 10, 15 years – for the election of authorities. How can you give continuity to the revolutionary process when you have to abide by these limits?

They will say: “the populists, the socialists, believe in caudillos”. But what real revolution does not embody the spirit of the time? If everything depended on institutions, that is not revolution. There is no true revolution without leaders or caudillos. When the subjectivity of the people defines the destiny of a country, we are witnessing a true revolutionary process. The issue, however, is how we get on with the process given that there are constitutional limits for the continuity of the leader.

Perhaps collective leadership, building collective leaderships that allow the continuity of the processes, has greater possibilities in a democratic context. This is one of the concerns that must be resolved through political debate. How do we give subjective continuity to the revolutionary leaderships so that the processes are not truncated, nor limited, and can be sustained in historical perspective?

Finally, a fifth weakness that I would like to mention, in a self-critical but propositive way, has to do with economic and continental integration. We have made very good progress in political integration. But every government sees its geographic space, its economy, its market, and when we look at the other markets, limitations arise. Economic integration is no easy matter. You can talk a lot about it, but when you have to check the balance of payments, investment ratios, technological matters, things tend to slow down. This is the big issue. I am convinced that Latin America will only be able to become the master of its destiny in the twenty-first century if it can become a sort of continental, plurinational state that respects the local and national structures of the current states, with a second floor of continental institutions dealing with finance, economy, culture, politics and trade. Can you imagine if we were 450 million people? We would have the largest reserves of minerals, lithium, water, gas, oil, agriculture. We could drive the globalization processes of the continental economy. Alone, we are prey to the greed and abuse of companies and countries from the North. United, we in Latin America would be able to tread firmly in the twenty-first century and mark our destiny.

The tide is on the ebb

We should not be scared. Nor should we be pessimistic about the future, about the coming battles. When Marx, in 1848, analyzed the revolutionary processes, he always spoke of revolution as a process by waves. He never imagined revolution as an upward, continuous process. He said revolution moves in waves: a wave, another wave, and then the second wave advances beyond the first, and the third beyond the second.

Now the tide is ebbing. It will take weeks, months, years, but this being a process, it is clear that there will be a second wave, and what we have to do is prepare for it, debate what have we done wrong in the first wave, where we have failed, where errors have been made, what have we lacked, so that when the second wave happens, sooner rather than later, the continental revolutionary processes can go well beyond the first wave.

We are in for hard times, but hard times are oxygen for revolutionaries. Are we not coming from down below, are we not the ones who have been persecuted, tortured, marginalized in neoliberal times? The golden decade of the continent has not come free. It has been your struggle, from below, from the unions, the universities, the neighbourhoods, that has led to a revolutionary cycle. The first wave did not fall from the sky. We bear in our bodies the marks and wounds of the struggles of the 80s and 90s. And if today, provisionally, temporarily, we must go back to the struggles of the 80s, 90s, 2000s, let us welcome them. That is what a revolutionary is for.

Fighting, winning, falling down, getting up, fighting, winning, falling down, getting up – right up to the end of our life. That is our destiny.

But we have something important in our favour: historical time. Historical time is on our side. As Professor Emir Sader says, our opponents have no alternative, they do not carry a project that can overcome ours. They simply make their nest on the mistakes and envies of the past. They are restorers. We know what they did with the continent, in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador. We know what they did, because they ruled in the 80s and 90s. And they turned us into miserable, dependent countries, they drove us to extreme poverty situations and to collective shame. We already know what they want to do.

We are the future. We are the hope. We have done in ten years what dictators and governments over the last hundred years did not dare to do: we have recovered the homeland, dignity, hope, mobilization, and civil society. So, this is what they run up against. They are the past. They are the regression. We are the ones who move with the historical time.

But we must be very careful here. We must re-learn what we learned in the 80s and 90s, when everything was against us. We must gather strength. We must know that when we go into battle and lose, our strength goes to the enemy, boosting his own, while we are weakened. When it comes to it, we must know how to plan well, to gain legitimacy, to explain, to conquer again the people’s hopes, support, sensitivity and emotional spirit in each new fight. We must know that we have to go into battle again, the tiny and gigantic battle of ideas, in the mainstream media, in the newspapers, in the small pamphlets, at the universities, schools, and the unions. We must know that we have to rebuild a new common sense of hope, of mysticism. Ideas, organization, mobilization.

We do not know how long this battle will be. But let us get ready for it if it lasts one, two, three, four years. The continent is on the move and sooner rather than later it will no longer be a matter of just 8 or 10 countries: we will be 15, we will be 20, 30 countries celebrating this great International of revolutionary, progressive peoples.


Is Vice President Garcia Cracking Down on Dissent in Bolivia?


September 11, 2015

by Federico Fuentes


While respecting their right to criticize government policies, Garcia said foreign-funded nongovernmental organizations needed to understand their place within Bolivian society.

Recent statements by Bolivia’s Vice President Alvaro Garcia regarding nongovernmental organisations in Bolivia have triggered off a heated debate on the left.

At an Aug. 11 media conference, Garcia accused NGOs of acting like political parties seeking to interfere in Bolivia’s domestic affairs. While respecting their right to criticize government policies, Garcia said foreign-funded nongovernmental organisations needed to understand their place within Bolivian society.

The former guerilla and left-wing academic said: “Does this group of comrades have the right to form an NGO and produce and publish what they want? Of course they have the right, but foreign NGOs do not have the right to come to Bolivia and say they support Bolivia’s development while they do politics and defend the interests of transnationals.”

He highlighted the fact that foreign companies and governments were the biggest backers of NGOs.

“What do we say to them?” he asked. “Finance in your own country, there is no need for you to come and interfere in our country. Our relationship with foreign governments and companies is very clear: service in function of our policy and usefulness in function of a sovereign state; but not for the purposes of covert political action …”

Garcia Linera said foreign governments were using NGOs to push policies that sought to stunt Bolivia’s development under the guise of protecting the environment. The vice-president singled out four NGOS that have been among the loudest critics of his government’s environmental policies.

In response, more than 200 academics from across the world signed an open letter expressing concern for what they viewed as “threats, which if they became a reality, would imply a grave blow in terms of restricting civil rights, among them, freedom of expression and association”. They said Garcia Linera’s real issue with the four NGOs was their criticisms of his government’s shortcomings.

Others have defended these nongovernmental organisations on the basis of their role in promoting environmental struggles.

Contributing to the debate with an article on, Carmelo Ruiz said Garcia’s comments come at a time when falling commodity prices are exacerbating the contradictions of his government’s “progressive extractivist model”. Furthermore, he argued the Morales government was facing the threat of a rise in social and environmental protests.

Faced with this dilemma, Ruiz said critical voices had chosen to point out that “protest and repression is inevitable in extractivism”, while government spokespeople have preferred to blame discontent on “imperialist manipulations.”

Like Ruiz, many have tried to portray Garcia’s comments as something relatively new. However, his criticisms of NGOs predate his election to office or recent conflicts with certain indigenous and environmental groups.

For example, Garcia criticized the role of NGOs in Sociology of Social Movements in Bolivia, a book many of his current critics still hold up as the most authoritative studies of its kind.

In a chapter focusing on the highlands indigenous organisation CONAMAQ, Garcia notes that nongovernmental organisation financing resulted in the organisation taking on certain “bureaucratic-administrative characteristics”. It also in part explained CONAMAQ’s propensity to act less like a social movement and more like a lobby group that sought to “negotiate and reach formal agreements with government institutions and multilateral support organisms.”

The book noted how in certain communities, NGOs had artificially propped up “ayllus” (which make up CONAMAQ’s base) to compete for local influence against more radical peasant unions.

Criticism of nongovernmental organisations’ role in co-opt and dividing social movements is also present in another book he co-authored, “We Are No Ones Toys.” Notably, they appear in a chapter dedicated to the conflict between indigenous groups and coca-growers in the Isiboro-Secure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS).

In 2011, conflict between these sectors over a proposed highway through the TIPNIS boiled over to become an issue of national, and even international significance for the Morales government.

Throughout the chapter, a number of references are made regarding the heavy influence NGOs had over indigenous communities.

Commenting in the book on the role of nongovernmental organisations in TIPNIS, local coca-grower leader Feliciano Mamani makes many of the same criticisms Garcia Linera made more than half a decade later in his book Geopolitics of the Amazon.

Mamani said: “NGOs and other interests that come for our natural resources, control indigenous people through money… where ever there are natural resources there are hundreds of NGOs confusing indigenous peoples and making false declarations….”

Since coming into office, Garcia’s criticisms of nongovernmental organisations’ relationship with social movements have not change, however his public critique of NGOs has broaden out to encompass other issues.

Garcia has argued that nongovernmental organisations had a huge influence over government ministries prior to Morales election. He recounts: “When we came into government in 2006, we found an executive carved up and handed over to embassies and [NGOs]… We could not do anything without authorization either from the embassies… or certain NGOs.”

This was in large part due to the fact that international loans and aid made up about half of the state budget for public investment.

The Morales government was able to quickly assert its control over state institutions as a result of its policy of nationalizing natural resources. Increased revenue from resource extraction put the government in the position where it could set its own policies, free of dependency or interference by foreign governments or NGOs.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, nongovernmental organisations’ hostility towards the Bolivian government has paralleled its loss of influence over state policies.

All this is also part of the context within which Garcia’s comments need to be placed.

Framing the debate however, as though it is simply about a government hiding behind the rhetoric of national sovereignty to crackdown on opponents – or alternatively, viewing all government critics as stooges for imperialism – will only lead to a dialogue of the deaf.

For starters, it should not be too hard to defend free speech at the same time as respecting Bolivia’s sovereignty.

The left has always opposed attempts by governments to crackdown on free speech, and should continue to do so when this occurs. But this is separate to the issue of allowing foreign governments and corporation to do as they please on Bolivian soil.

It is one thing to shut down an nongovernmental organisations or jail opponents for what they say. Garcia has made it clear in his response to his critics that his government will not be closing down any NGO.

But it is quite another thing to deny the right of a sovereign government to control the flow of funds from hostile governments into its territory. Or is the left now going to argue that, in the name of “free speech”, foreign governments and corporations should be able to fund whoever they want in Bolivia?

We should use this opportunity to seriously discuss the various issues the debate has already thrown up. This includes, among others, the role of nongovernmental organisations in the Global South, how extractive industries have helped loosen foreign control over the Bolivian state, what alternative sources of funding might exist to enable this situation to remain, and what it would really take for Bolivia to overcome extractivism.



The Left’s Unsung Success Story: Evo Morales’s Big Win


Nov 5, 2014

by Serge Halimi

AP Photo/Juan Karita

In times of crisis, a head of state who gets re-elected in the first round, having already served two terms, is a rarity indeed. One such is Evo Morales, whose win, with 61% of the vote, should have received more attention than it did. All the more so since he pulled off this electoral feat in Bolivia — which had five different presidents between 2001 and 2005. His victory follows a 25% reduction in poverty, an 87% real-terms increase in the minimum wage, a lowering of the retirement age (1) and an annual growth rate of over 5% — all since 2006. Given how often we’re told we need to overcome our disenchantment with politics, why hasn’t this good news been more widely reported? Could it be because it stems from progressive reforms implemented by leftwing regimes?

The mainstream media are as reluctant to talk about leftwing Latin American governments’ success stories, they also, to be fair, omit the failures of conservative regimes, including in the security arena. This year, for example, five journalists have been assassinated in Mexico, including Atilano Román Tirado, who was killed while recording a radio programme last month. Tirado had often demanded compensation, on air, on behalf of 800 families who lost their homes through the construction of a new dam. His willingness to get involved carried a deadly risk in a country where abductions, torture and assassinations have become everyday occurrences, especially for those who question the rotten, mafia-infested social order.

On 26 and 27 September, 43 students from the town of Iguala in the state of Guerrero, 130km from Mexico City, held protests against the neoliberal education reforms introduced by President Enrique Peña Nieto. Local police intercepted their bus and took them to an unknown destination. There they were probably handed over to a drug cartel, who were to execute them and conceal their remains in clandestine graves. There have been many discoveries of such graves in Mexico in the past few weeks, some full of burnt, dismembered bodies. Iguala’s mayor and security director have fled and the authorities are now looking for them.

Peña Nieto has won adulation in the business press (2) for opening up the energy sector to the multinationals. France has awarded him the Légion d’Honneur. Will his admirers question him one day over the almost complete impunity that corrupt policemen and elected officials in Mexico enjoy? Perhaps the major western print media, intellectuals, the US, Spain and France are hesitant about what questions to ask the Mexican president. In which case they only have to imagine what would have leapt to mind had the student massacre had taken place in Ecuador, Cuba or Venezuela. Or indeed in Bolivia, where President Morales has just been re-elected.

Serge Halimi is president of Le Monde diplomatique.


(1) From 60 to 58 for men and from 60 to 55 for women with three or more children.

(2) See “Aztec tiger begins to sharpen its claws”, Financial Times supplement, London, 28 June 2013. The sharpening was apparently complete by 16 December, when the Wall Street Journal hailed “the Mexican model” in an editorial.


How Bolivia is Leading the Global Fight Against Climate Disaster

Life on the Left

October 6, 2014

by Richard Fiddler

(October 6, 2014) Bolivia goes to the polls next Sunday, October 12, in the country’s third national election since the victory of Evo Morales and his Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) in December 2005 and the second since the adoption of its radically new constitution in 2009. The MAS list, led by President Morales and his Vice-Presidential running mate Álvaro García Linera, is far ahead in the opinion polling over four opposition slates, all to the right of the MAS.

Although Bolivia’s “process of change,” its “democratic and cultural revolution” as García Linera terms it, is still in its early stages, the country’s developmental process has already attracted considerable interest — and some controversy — internationally, not least because of its government’s role as a leading critic of global climate change, which it forthrightly attributes to the effects and the logic inherent to the capitalist mode of production.

Some of the highlights of this approach and how Bolivia is attempting to shape the preconditions to “going beyond capitalism” are discussed in this short presentation that I made at a workshop at the People’s Social Forum in Ottawa, August 22.

– Richard Fidler

* * *

We are “ecosocialists” because the climate crisis now bearing down on us is the major issue facing the world’s peoples. It threatens the very survival of human life. It is directly caused by capitalism as a system. The alternative to capitalism is socialism, and our socialism must reflect the centrality of climate crisis in our thinking and actions.

On a global scale, Bolivia is punching way above its size in drawing attention to this crisis and formulating answers to it — within the limits of its situation as a small landlocked country in South America. And its government is moving to implement its proposals through developing an “economic, social and communitarian productive model” that takes immediate steps toward dismantling the dependent legacy of colonialism, neo-colonialism and capitalism while pointing the way toward what it terms “the socialist horizon.”

I will start by highlighting a few notable examples of how Bolivia is contributing to our understanding of climate change and what can be done about it.

When the United Nations 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen ended without any commitment by the major powers to emissions reductions, Bolivia’s President Evo Morales promptly issued a call for a “World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth,” to be hosted by Bolivia.

People’s Conference on Climate Change


The conference met in Cochabamba in April 2010. It was attended by more than 30,000 people (one third were foreign visitors from 142 countries and official delegations from 47 states). It adopted a powerful anticapitalist “People’s Agreement” that called, in part, for stabilizing the rise of temperature to 1o C and limiting carbon dioxide emissions to 300 parts per million.

The Cochabamba Agreement also rejected carbon market mechanisms that transfer primary responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to poor countries. It called for integrated management of forests, “without market mechanisms and ensuring the full participation of indigenous peoples and local communities.” And it called on developed countries to allocate 6% of their GDP to fighting climate change, to repay some of their climate debt as a result of their emissions.

These proposals have been ignored by the United Nations in subsequent climate conferences. But Bolivia has pursued its international campaign.

Evo’s Ten Commandments

For example, in 2012 the government organized a mass gathering on December 21, the southern summer solstice, at the legendary Isla del Sol in Lake Titicaca. The event attracted some 40 indigenous groups from five continents as well as government leaders from other countries. In the days preceding the event, public and internet forums were organized to stimulate public debate on such topics as climate change and lessons from indigenous knowledges on how to live in harmony with Nature. Speaking at the event itself, Evo Morales offered “Ten Commandments to confront capitalism and construct the culture of life.”

This year Bolivia is chairing the G77+China group of what are now 133 countries of the global South. The Morales government has used its position to feature the issues of climate change, sustainable development and “Living Well in harmony with Mother Earth.” These were prominent themes of Evo’s opening speech to the G77 summit in Santa Cruz in mid-June, which directly attributed climate crisis to “the anarchy of capitalist production.”

Two weeks later, the Bolivian Workers Central (COB) and the government sponsored an “Anti-Imperialist International Trade Union Conference” in Cochabamba. It was attended by representatives of unions in 22 countries affiliated with the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), which claims a membership of 86 million in 120 countries.

Climate crisis as ‘crystallization’ of capitalist crises

The conference adopted a remarkable “Anti-Imperialist Political Thesis” aimed at pointing the way toward a socialist world order. We are faced, it says, with a structural crisis of global proportions affecting all aspects of nature and human life — climate, energy, food, water, etc. The climate crisis is “the crystallization of all these crises…. We are in a stage of capitalism where everything is commoditized, including life itself and common goods.”

The statement rejects the concept of a “green economy,” based on such capitalist devices as carbon credits, essentially the privatization of nature. And it points to the rising competition for control of scarce or declining natural resources, a key ingredient in the imperialist war drive.

Fighting the capitalist world system today are locally-based resistance movements, the statement notes. But globally we “have yet to create a united front that could constitute an alternative to capitalism.”

The “basic contradiction of capitalism,” it says, is “the contradiction between the social character of production and the capitalist form of property over the means of production and the appropriation of its results…. An alternative project to confront the crisis of capitalism can only come from the popular sectors and organized labour” — with “socialism as its horizon.”

What the Bolivians are saying, then, is that there is no enduring solution to our mounting environmental disasters and climate crisis short of overcoming capitalism.

Dependency and ‘extractivism’

I maintain that no other government worldwide is doing more to spread this ecosocialist message. However, there is a common perception — especially among many global justice advocates in the North — that Bolivia’s government actually violates these precepts in its own development strategy. A common criticism is that not only has it not broken with capitalism — one well-known critic in these parts claims it is “reconstituting neoliberalism”[1] — but it has not broken decisively with the “extractivist” legacy of colonialism and capitalism, referring to the fact that Bolivia’s economy is still highly dependent on large-scale removal (“extraction”) and export of unprocessed raw materials, not just in traditional extractive industries such as mining and hydrocarbons but through industrial-scale agriculture, forestry and even fishing.

So let’s take a quick look at some features of Bolivia’s incremental development model, bearing in mind of course that this small landlocked country of 10 million cannot be expected to create socialism all on its own, in isolation from the global economy and its neighbouring countries in Latin America.[2]

The new economic model

Three months after taking office, in 2006, the Morales government “nationalized” Bolivia’s main natural resource, its extensive hydrocarbon deposits. The state asserted ownership of gas and mineral deposits and renegotiated contracts with the private companies, including some transnationals, still involved in refining and exporting the product. Thanks to hugely increased royalties and taxes, about 80% of the profits now go to the state, more than a four-fold increase in its share of these revenues.

The vast increase in state revenue as a result of greater control over natural resource wealth has facilitated a sharp drop in public debt. Less dependent on foreign loans, the government has been able to expand its nationalization program into such areas as telecommunications, electricity and water, and ensure that more Bolivians have access to these basic services.

Significant steps have been taken toward industrializing and diversifying the economy. For example, under the government’s gas industrialization plan, Bolivia has already begun to export processed gas and by 2016 will be able to meet its domestic demand for gasoline and liquefied natural gas (LNG). As a result, hundreds of millions of dollars currently allocated to subsidizing the cost of imported processed gas can be redeployed to meeting other needs. And higher returns from processed gas exports mean Bolivia can, over time, look to generating more wealth from relatively less gas extraction.

Increased state revenues have “facilitated a seven-fold increase in social and productive spending by the government since 2005,” writes Federico Fuentes. This in turn “has allowed the government to make some headway in overcoming the social debt it inherited.” Social programs have been dramatically expanded; today one in three Bolivians benefits directly from government social security payments.

Poverty levels have been reduced from 60.6% of the population 2005 to 43.5% in 2012. Income disparities have likewise been reduced.

Modest gains, perhaps, although important in themselves in one of the poorest countries in Latin America. But there is good reason to expect more radical social reforms in the near future, especially if the government manages to go beyond programs directed to particularly disadvantaged groups and to implement projected universal coverage in such fields as health care.

Higher personal incomes, limited industrialization and the growth in the domestic market — purchasing power is up more than 40% since Morales took office[3] — have aided growth in the manufacturing sector, contributed to a decrease in unemployment (Bolivia currently has the lowest rate in South America, 3.2%), and an increase in the percentage of workers employed in the formal economy.

Furthermore, the government has undertaken some important initiatives not only to lessen Bolivia’s extractivist dependency but to point the country in a post-capitalist direction — through creating small state-owned enterprises in which local producers and communities have a say in how they are run; the titling of more than 35 million hectares of land as communitarian property or indigenous territories; and strengthening communitarian agriculture practices through preferential access to equipment, supplies, no-interest loans and state-subsidized markets.

Extracting Bolivia from extractivism, however, is not an easy process. In the short term, the country’s economic development strategy has actually expanded its dependency on the extractive economy. On the plus side, low unemployment, greater social security, higher living standards and a political environment in which the indigenous peoples and languages have been given constitutional recognition, have strengthened the social solidarity of the popular classes, on which the government rests for its support. These are essential steps in any emancipatory project, one that points the way toward that promised “socialist horizon.”

Deepening the process?

And this may be only a beginning, Alfredo Rada writes in a significant article published in early August entitled “Deeping the process of change on the basis of the social movements.” Rada is Bolivia’s Deputy Minister for Social Movements and Civil Society. His department reports directly to the Ministry of the President and to President Evo Morales.

Rada draws attention to the recent reconstitution of what he terms the “Revolutionary Social Bloc” of the major trade unions, campesino and indigenous organizations as well as neighborhood councils and urban school boards, micro-enterprises and members of cooperatives. This bloc or alliance is known as the CONALCAM, the National Coordination for Change.[4]

“The regained protagonism of workers and social movements,” Rada writes, “inevitably tends to strengthen … ideological tendencies within the process of change.” He draws attention to the Cochabamba anti-imperialist trade union meeting in July, supported by the government.

“Here is the vigorous present and promising future of the Bolivian process. In those proposals they defend what has been achieved (which is a lot) and seek to deepen the changes with their own political action based on the social movements.

“But the talk about deepening the process, if it is to achieve greater vitality, must be accompanied by programmatic proposals that point to further strengthening of the state with new nationalizations in strategic sectors of the economy and new industries in petrochemicals, steel, metallurgy and processed foods; to transformation of the capitalist relations of production in the public enterprises; to the strengthening of the social and communitarian sector of the economy through productive projects of an associative nature that generate employment; to the agrarian revolution that eradicates the new forms of latifundism and foreign ownership of the land that have developed in recent years; to food sovereignty, avoiding the new forms of monoculture both in the east (soy) and in the west (quinua) of the country; and to defense of Mother Nature from mining pollution and the severe impact of irrational consumption of natural resources in the cities.

“If the social movements keep the political and programmatic initiative, they will become the principal factor in democratic governability in the medium term, an indispensable factor in the management of the process.

“In light of the probability of a new triumph of Evo Morales against a right wing that is still searching for a compass, our view should go beyond the electoralist calculation. Now is the time to bring together the revolutionaries around clear ideas, organize them in close relation to the social movements and strengthen the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) as the political instrument of those movements.”

Resource dependency is not the cause of underdevelopment

Transnational corporations continue to operate in Bolivia. Extractive industries persist. Bolivia’s economy is still capitalist and resource-dependent. But the initial successes of its new development strategy centered on state investment initiatives demonstrate that it is not resource dependency per se that generates underdevelopment;[5] it is the weak state structures and capacities typically associated with such economies. Countries with stronger state institutions — such as Norway or Canada, both heavily reliant on hydrocarbon exploitation (and mining in Canada’s case) — have remained prosperous nevertheless. However, Canada, one of the G7 leading imperialist powers, is one of the most environmentally damaging extractivists in the world, and is no example for Bolivia.

Bolivia’s MAS government is taking advantage of the favourable opportunity offered by a burgeoning global market for the country’s resources to strengthen state sovereignty and capacities with a view to raising living standards, planning production for national development, and empowering traditionally subaltern classes.

At the same time, it is conscious that imperialism as a world system continues to pose the main threat to all such efforts as well as jeopardizing the environment as never before. That is why it has consistently campaigned to raise public awareness of the need to go “beyond capitalism” as an integral component of instituting “another world” of harmonious co-existence among humans and between humanity and nature.

And that is also why the government has placed so much emphasis on forging broad international alliances with governments and social movements around such issues as climate crisis.

[1] Jeffery R. Webber, “Fantasies aside, it’s reconstituted neoliberalism in Bolivia under Morales,”

[2] For a more ample development of this argument, see Federico Fuentes, “Bolivia: Beyond (neo) extractivism?,” published first at Telesur.

[3] Linda C. Farthing and Benjamin H. Kohl, Evo’s Bolivia: Continuity and Change (University of Texas Press, 2014), p. 86.

[4] The Coordinadora Nacional por el Cambio (CONALCAM) is a Bolivian political coordination of social movements aligned with the governing Movement for Socialism-Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples (MAS-IPSP). It was founded on 22 January 2007 during the Constituent Assembly of 2006-2007. CONALCAM mobilizes its member organizations in support of the “process of change.” (Wikipedia)

[5] For a critical discussion of “extractivism” from the government’s standpoint, see Álvaro García Linera, Geopolitics of the Amazon, pp. 31-35.


How ‘anti-extractivism’ misses the forest for the trees

Environmentalists who oppose ‘extractivism’ on principle are oversimplifying the complex issues faced by the peoples and governments of Latin America today

Bolivia Rising

May 21, 2014

by Federico Fuentes

“Any genuine campaign against South American “extractivism”, particularly by solidarity activists in imperialist countries, must start by pointing the fingers at those truly responsible for extractivism in South America: imperialist governments and their transnational corporations.”


A recent spate of high-profile campaigns against projects based on extracting raw materials has opened up an important new dynamic within the broad processes of change sweeping South America. Understanding their nature and significance is crucial to grasping the complexities involved in bringing about social change and how best to build solidarity with peoples’ struggles.

Many of the campaigns that target specific mining, oil, agribusiness or logging ventures share common elements. They have raised public awareness around a variety of important environmental issues such as water scarcity, forest preservation and sustainable land usage.

In some cases, particularly in Ecuador and Bolivia, these campaigns have influenced existing discussions on issues such as climate change, the rights of Mother Earth and the kinds of alternative development models needed to achieve radical change.

Another common aspect has been the central role played by rural indigenous communities. This is due not only to the fact many of these extractive ventures occur in indigenous territories, but also the leading role indigenous movements have played in recent years in the global environment movement.

As a result, issues such as indigenous autonomy and the right to prior consultation on ancestral lands before embarking on extractive projects have become increasingly intertwined with debates over resource extraction and the environment.

This is particularly true in Ecuador and Bolivia, where indigenous peoples constitute a sizeable minority, if not majority, of the population. In these countries, indigenous conceptions such as “Buen Vivir” (Good Living) and “Pachamama” (Mother Earth) have become part of common public discourse and been successfully enshrined in new constitutions that provide a framework for the new society that social movements are striving to build.

Another common element is that such campaigns can be found in almost any South American country, whether run by right-wing neoliberal governments, such as Colombia, or left-wing indigenous-led ones, such as Bolivia.

A new politics?

Given this, some on the left have concluded that South America is witnessing a new cycle of popular protests characterised by a clash between pro-extractivist governments and anti-extractivist rural communities.

For example, Upside Down World editor Benjamin Dangl says these campaigns are a result of “the wider conflicts between the politics of extractivism among countries led by leftist governments … and the politics of Pachamama, and how indigenous movements have resisted extractivism in defense of their rights, land and the environment.”

Argentine sociologist Maristella Svampa takes this idea further and says the emergence of a new model of capitalist domination in South America is responsible for this new cycle of protest.

Whereas social movements previously faced off against neoliberal governments beholden to the Washington Consensus, Svampa says the problem today is “neo-extractivist” governments under the grip of the “commodity consensus”.

She says this “consensus” represents a new “economic and political-ideological” order. It is underpinned by booming commodity prices that have driven an expansion in extractive industries and brought about impressive gains in terms of economic growth and national reserves.

However, Svampa says this “change in the mode of [capitalist] accumulation” has led to new forms of inequality and conflicts. The result has been “an eco-territorial shift” in popular struggles, which now focus on issues such as land, the environment and development models.

Uruguayan journalist Raul Zibechi claims these campaigns “signal the birth of a new cycle of struggle that will also breath life into new anti-systemic movements, perhaps more radically anti-capitalist in the sense that they question developmentalism and hold onto Buen Vivir as this principle ethical and political reference point.”

While the terminology is different, the commonality among these positions is evident.

Within this context, Dangl concludes that solidarity activists must not turn a blind eye to this conflict and instead focus on promoting these “spaces of dissent and debate in indigenous, environmental and farmer movements”.

No one in the solidarity movement would disagree with the need to show solidarity with those struggling against the negative impact of extractive industries. But a solidarity movement that confines its view of South American politics to a narrow “extractivism vs. anti-extractivism” prism could end up hurting those it claims to support.


Extractive industries exist in every South American country. However, those fixated on extractivism often neglect to point out that the reason for this can be found in the region’s history of imperialist domination. Progressive governments inherited economies that are deeply dependent on raw material exports because this is the role that colonial and imperialist countries have for centuries assigned to the region. Overcoming extractivism is therefore intertwined with overcoming imperialist control over the region’s economies.

Does CONAMAQ Represent Bolivia’s Highland Indigenous Peoples?

Bolivia Rising

May 22, 2014

Federico Fuentes


The Bolivian indigenous organization CONAMAQ made headlines earlier this year with its threats to blockade the Dakar rally on its passage through the highlands region.

This was not the first time that the organization caught the attention of the world’s media outlets. Leaders of CONAMAQ, which stands for National Council of Ayllus and Markas of Qullasuyu, have been regularly quoted in the media due their outspoken criticism of the Morales government.

Inevitably, CONAMAQ is described in the articles as “the main indigenous organization in Bolivia’s highlands”.

The two main indigenous groups in the highlands are the Aymara, and to a lesser extent the Quechua. They are also the two largest of the 36 indigenous peoples that inhabit Bolivia.

CONAMAQ’s radical, anti-government discourse, and its claims to represent highland indigenous peoples, have endeared the organization to many activists outside Bolivia.

However, this newfound image sits awkwardly with the organization’s history.

WATCH: Our Brand Is Crisis | The Buying of Bolivia

Our Brand Is Crisis is a 2005 documentary film by Rachel Boynton on American political campaign marketing tactics by Greenberg Carville Shrum (GCS) in the 2002 Bolivian presidential election. The election saw Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada elected President of Bolivia ahead of Evo Morales.

“For decades, U.S. strategists-for-hire have been quietly molding the opinions of voters and the messages of candidates in elections around the world. They have worked for presidential candidates on every continent (in Britain, Israel, India, Korea, South Africa, Venezuela, Brazil, to name a few…).

Without the noise of tanks or troops, these Americans have been spreading our brand of democracy from the Middle East to the middle of the South American jungle. OUR BRAND IS CRISIS is an astounding look at one of their campaigns and its earth-shattering aftermath.

With flabbergasting access to think sessions, media training and the making of smear campaigns, we watch how the consultants’ marketing strategies shape the relationship between a leader and his people. And we see a shocking example of how the all-American art of branding can affect the “spreading of democracy” overseas.”

How Oppositionist Organizations Act Worldwide – From Egypt to Venezuela

The American Revolution

The American Revolution (June 18, 2012)  | Written by Natalia Viana of Pública | Republished in English on the website  In Serbia by Vladimir Stoiljkovic on  Nov 24, 2013.

[*This article has been translated by a volunteer translator. Read the original article in Portuguese here. ]


In one of the Wikileaks leakage – in which Pública (not-for-profit investigative journalism center in Brazil, founded by a team of women journalists) had access – shows the founder of this organization communicating often with analysts from Stratfor, an organization that mixes journalism, political analysis and espionage methods to sell “intel analysis” to clients such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Coca-Cola and Dow Chemical – who monitored environmentalists’ activities who opposed them – as well as U.S. Navy.

U.S. Turning into Latin America’s Backyard

Strategic Culture Foundation Feb 2, 2014 by Nil NIKANDROV

maduro  President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro speaks during the second Summit of The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), in Havana, Cuba, on Jan. 29, 2014. The CELAC has declared the region a nuclear-free zone, Cuban leader Raul Castro announced Wednesday on the final day of the summit in Havana. (Xinhua/AVN)

The second summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) January 28-29 aroused great interest, first and foremost because this organization of Western Hemisphere countries does not include the U.S. or Canada. The Community was created after multiple attempts by countries in the region to democratize the Organization of American States (OAS), which is under the strict control of the U.S. and has more than once been used for repressive purposes against regimes undesirable to Washington. Attempts by the Bush and Obama administrations to use the OAS to «finish off the Castro regime», «neutralize» Hugo Chavez, etc. totally compromised this previously reliable tool of the Empire. It was Chavez who in the last years of his life worked on reforming regional organizations and creating counterweights to the United States in the Western Hemisphere. In accomplishing this complex task he was assisted by Argentinian leader Nestor Kirchner, Brazil’s Inacio Lula da Silva, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, Bolivia’s Evo Morales and other statesmen of Latin America. The first CELAC forum, in which 33 countries participated, took place in Caracas in December 2011, and Chavez, in a speech at its opening, plainly declared that this political alliance was being created in order to «become the most influential center of power in the 21st century». He was supported by many presidents. Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega spoke the most decisively, stating that the existence of CELAC is «the death sentence for the Monroe Doctrine». The State Department declared its position with regard to CELAC in 2011 as well, stating that it would continue «to work through the OAS as the preeminent multilateral organization speaking for the hemisphere». Washington is trying not to permit the formation of competing centers of power in the region. It is using all the means at its disposal and focusing on the tried and true strategy of «divide and conquer». There is a «fifth column» of conservative presidents who serve the interests of the oligarchs and monopolies and, keeping their own personal interests in mind, follow in the wake of Washington. When needed, these U.S. allies can be used to block any decision of CELAC, considering the principle of unanimity set down in the founding documents. Raul Castro, president of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers of Cuba, became the president of CELAC in 2013. When taking the reins from his predecessor, Chile’s Sebastian Pinera, Castro stated that he would work for the good of peace, justice, development and mutual understanding between all the peoples of the Latin American continent. «We will act in full accordance with the norms of international law, the Charter of the UN and the basic principles of interstate relations», said Castro. The Cubans have worked fruitfully to prepare around thirty documents for the summit in Havana. Of great significance for the strengthening of CELAC’s authority is a declaration affirming that Latin America and the Caribbean Basin remain a zone free from nuclear weapons. Of great significance for the strengthening of CELAC’s authority is a declaration affirming that Latin America and the Caribbean Basin remain a zone free from nuclear weapons.This document was adopted in addition to the Treaty of Tlatelolco (1967), which prohibited nuclear weapons in the region. This is because the treaty was being systematically violated by the United States and England, whose atomic submarines would anchor off the coast of the continent fully armed. Information that nuclear warheads are being stockpiled at the English military base at Mount Pleasant on the Maldives, with the agreement of the Pentagon, is also troubling. The 70 U.S. military bases located in the region are a threat to peace as well. Some of them are functioning at full capacity (for example, in Colombia and Honduras), while others have been set aside for the future. The base at Guantanamo, Cuba has long ago become a symbol of the «fascisization» of the United States. The prisoners there, who are being held without due process, are subjected to physical and psychological torture. Many have urged the Obama administration to stop this inhuman practice, but as always, there has been no reaction. It was confirmed at the summit that controversies and conflicts between CELAC member countries would be resolved through negotiations in order to be permanently rid of the use of force in regions where there are old territorial disputes. There were also discussions, traditional for Latin American conventions, of such topics as fighting hunger, poverty, social inequality and drug trafficking. Here there have been positive changes, first of all in the countries of ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America. Solidarity with Cuba and the condemnation of the U.S. economic blockade is another constant topic of Latin American forums. This fundamental position is also set down in the documents of the summit. Several speeches condemned U.S. mass espionage, especially by the NSA. Surveillance was (and is) being conducted of all the countries of the region without exception. Even such seemingly trusted allies as Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica are under the magnifying glass of U.S. intelligence. The necessity of creating an electronic communications system which is well-protected from outside intrusion and a «Latin American Internet» was spoken of in particular by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa. The creation of a China-CELAC forum was approved. The topic of China at the summit testifies to the great success of China’s financial and economic penetration into the region. The scale of Beijing’s work toward undermining U.S. dominance in the Western Hemisphere is stunning. Practically all of the countries on the continent, from Belize to Uruguay and from Mexico to Chile, have thrown open their doors to Chinese capital. More and more frequently the opinion is heard that the U.S. is a colossus with feet of clay. Therefore the stake of both «right» and «left» Latin American governments on China is justified. The Latin Americans are deftly making use of the geopolitical confrontation between the old (decrepit) and new superpowers for their own interests. The discussion at the summit of the possibility of granting Puerto Rico full membership in CELAC also has negative implications for the U.S. This is practically a declaration of the need to grant Puerto Rico independence. Its semi-colonial status as a «free associated state» is a holdover from the past. Patriotic forces in Puerto Rico have been resisting imperial dictates for decades. The support of CELAC gives them additional opportunities to debunk manipulations in the propaganda war trying to prove that the citizens of Puerto Rico «en masse» are in favor of turning their country into yet another U.S. state. The Obama administration organized a counter-summit in Miami using ultra-right activists in order to distract attention from what is going on at the Havana forum.The Obama administration organized a counter-summit in Miami using ultra-right activists in order to distract attention from what is going on at the Havana forum. The initiators of the event were the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the Center for the Opening and Development of Latin America (CADAL), organizations created by the CIA for conducting subversive operations. In this particular case, people who have long ago been revealed to be terrorists and paid agents of U.S. intelligence are doing the Empire’s dirty work, attacking Cuba and Latin American «populists». Among them is Carlos Alberto Montaner, who calls himself a «publicist». His career as a «bombista» began in the first years of the Cuban revolution. Many people in movie theaters and shopping centers in Havana have died by his hand. Ramon Saul Sanchez is no different; he is a former member of the terrorist group Omega 7 who organized a bombing at the Cuban consulate in Montreal and threw explosives into the car of the Cuban Ambassador to the UN. Julio Rodriguez Salas, a former Venezuelan military officer and an agent of U.S. military intelligence, can boast of similar feats; he participated in the plot to overthrow Chavez in April 2002.