Archives

Tagged ‘Morales‘

U.S. Orchestrated Color Revolutions to Sweep Across Latin America in 2013-2014

Evo Morales, 2010, The People’s Summit, Cochabamba, Bolivia

Destabilizing Arsenals Concealed in US Embassies

Nil NIKANDROV | 02.04.2012

Strategic Culture Foundation

Over the past years, it has been happening with frightening regularity that U.S. diplomats and CIA agents were caught pulling off operations involving illicit weapons supply in Latin America. The inescapable impression is that the U.S. Department of State has irreversibly learned to regard the Vienna Convention and various national legislations as rules which it has unlimited freedom to overstep.

Pressing for unchallenged hegemony in the Western Hemisphere, Washington keeps the populist regimes in Latin America under permanent pressure. Outwardly, the U.S. Administration pledges not to resort to military force to displace the ALBA governments in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, or Cuba, but in reality Washington’s efforts to undermine them are a constant background of the continent’s political picture. The activity began under president G. Bush and shows no signs of subsiding under president Obama. Supposedly, plans are being devised in the White House that a series of color revolutions will erupt across Latin America in 2013-2014 and derail the continent’s advancement towards tighter integration in the security and other spheres. As the fresh experience of Libya showed with utmost clarity, Washington’s new brand of color revolutions will – in contrast to the former coups which used to be accompanied with outpourings of pacifist rhetoric – involve ferocious fighting and massive fatalities.

The Morales Government: Neoliberalism in Disguise?

International Socialism

27 March 12

Federico Fuentes

For more than a decade Bolivia has been rocked by mass upsurges and mobilisations that have posed the necessity and possibility of fundamental political and social transformation.1 In 2005 the social movements that led the country’s water and gas wars managed to elect a government that since then has presided over a process of change that has brought major advances.

Among these are: the adoption of a plurinational state structure that for the first time recognises the country’s indigenous majority; regaining sovereign control over vital natural resources and initial steps towards endogenous industrialisation; an ongoing agrarian reform; and the development of social programmes that have substantially improved the lives of ordinary Bolivians. Democratic rights have been reinforced; forms of self-government by indigenous communities established; and electoral processes expanded to include popular election even of the judiciary. Not least in importance, Bolivia has also become a prime participant in the movement for Latin American anti-imperialist unification and sovereignty and emerged as a major leader in the international fight against capitalist-induced climate change.

In his recent article in this journal, “Revolution against ‘Progress’”,2 Jeffery Webber offers a harsh critique of the MAS government, illustrating it by reference to recent conflicts between the government and some indigenous groups involving environmental and development issues. His conclusion: the government remains committed to a neoliberal programme based on “fiscal austerity”, “low inflationary growth”, “inconsequential agrarian reform”, “low social spending” and “alliances with transnational capital”, among other policies. As such, it shares “more continuity than change with the inherited neoliberal model”.

These are sweeping assertions, and many are questionable. Webber criticises the government’s supposed “fiscal austerity”, yet omits the fact that budget spending has increased almost fourfold between 2004 and 2012. He attacks the government for seeking “low inflation” and “macroeconomic stability”, but what is his alternative: high inflation and macroeconomic instability? These were certainly traits of previous neoliberal governments. Furthermore, is it “inconsequential” that in its first five years the Morales government presided over the redistribution or titling of 41 million hectares of land to over 900,000 members of indigenous peasant communities?3 And if the government’s policy can be simply defined as one of forming alliances to benefit foreign transnationals, why is the Bolivian state currently facing 12 legal challenges in international courts initiated by these same companies?

Profile of neoliberalism

Simply put, Webber ignores the real progress made by the Morales government in rolling back the neoliberal project in Bolivia. Neoliberalism is best understood as a class project that sought to reassert capital’s dominance internationally in the wake of the 1970s economic crisis. Neoliberalism, as Webber himself previously noted, was “set in motion on an international scale largely under the tutelage of the US imperial state” and had as its fundamental strategy not only the “privatisation of formerly state or public resources but their acquisition by transnational capital in the US and other core economies”.4

Furthermore, current Bolivian vice-president Álvaro García Linera has noted that neoliberalism rested on three additional “pillars”: “the fragmentation of the labouring sectors and worker organisations…the diminished state, and impediments to people’s decision making”.5

The impact of neoliberalism in Bolivia includes:6

l The sell-off or dismantling of Bolivia’s largest state-owned companies. In the hydrocarbon sector, which accounted for 50 percent of government revenue, privatisation was accompanied by a drop in royalties companies had to pay from 50 percent to 18 percent. The workforce of YPBF (Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos) was reduced from more than 9,000 in 1985 to 600 by 2002.

l The state’s dependency on foreign imperialist governments, transnational corporations and their institutions was deepened. International loans and aid covered “roughly half of Bolivia’s public investment”, with each budget deficit bringing further IMF-imposed structural adjustment programmes.

l The removal of state subsidies sent Bolivia’s small industrial sector into crisis. Some 35,000 jobs disappeared in the manufacturing sector alone.

l By 1988 the informal sector had ballooned to 70 percent of Bolivia’s urban workforce, and the few jobs created in the formal sector were subject to labour flexibilisation practices.

l The establishment of power-sharing pacts among traditional parties and restrictions on electoral registration for alternative parties consolidated the grip that neoliberal politicians had on political decision making.

Compare this disastrous record with that of the Morales government. While Bolivia’s state continues to be capitalist, “and the government functions within the framework of deeply entrenched capitalist culture and social relations”, it is equally true that through a combination of successful electoral and insurrectional battles, indigenous-popular forces today are in control of important positions of power within the state.7 From these positions, they have used the increased state revenue, generated through nationalisations undertaken across various strategic sectors, to begin breaking its dependency on foreign governments. This strong economic position has allowed those running the Bolivian state to dictate their own domestic and foreign policy, free from any impositions placed by imperialist governments and international financial institutions in return for loans. Ties of the US military to the Bolivian army have been cut.

A constituent assembly wrote a new constitution that for the first time recognises the previously excluded indigenous majority and has recuperated
state control over natural resources. Since the referendum ratifying the new constitution the process of “decolonising” the state has continued, most recently in October 2010, with the holding of Bolivia’s first popular elections to elect judicial authorities. The result was a record number of women and indigenous people flooding into the judicial branch of the state.

The Morales government also initiated a significant shift in Bolivia’s foreign policy, leaving behind the traditional subservient stance towards the US. Instead Bolivia has spearheaded initiatives in the direction of seeking unity with anti-imperialist forces—both at the level of governments and social movements—within the context of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (Alba), and increasing regional collaboration, through institutions such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). Another key focus has been the construction of an international alliance to fight for real solutions to the climate crisis, as evidenced by the World Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change held in Cochabamba in April 2010.

An alternative model

Webber ignores most of these achievements and instead focuses on the MAS industrial strategy and the social tensions that have been expressed around this. But he misrepresents the strategy. Let us look first, then, at what this strategy comprises, as it is a central component in the government’s economic vision. A succinct presentation may be found in a recent article on Bolivia’s economic model by Luis Alberto Arce Catacora, the minister of economy and public finance.

For Arce, “the New Economic, Social, Communitarian and Productive Model” that the government is implementing “does not pretend to immediately change the capitalist mode of production, but instead to lay the foundations for the transition towards a new socialist mode of production”.8

Unlike neoliberalism, in which surplus value and rents are appropriated by transnational capital, this new model, as the introduction to his article notes, has taken steps towards:

stimulating the internal market and reducing dependency on the external markets. Similarly, it has given the state a watching brief, endowing it with functions such as planning the economy, administering public enterprises, investing in the productive sector, taking on the role of a banker and regulator and, among other things, redistributing the surplus, with preference to those sectors that were not beneficiaries under previous governments.

The priority, Arce says, is promoting communitarian, cooperative and family-based enterprises (together with increasing social spending). Such a strategy is vital to rebuilding the strength of the working class and communitarian forces, pulverised by two decades of neoliberalism.

In summary: reassert state sovereignty in the economy and over natural resources; break out of Bolivia’s traditional position of primary materials exporter through industrialisation and promoting other productive sectors such as manufacturing and agriculture; redistribute the nation’s wealth in order to tackle poverty; and strengthen the organisational capacity of proletarian and communitarian forces as the two vital pillars of any possible transition to socialism in Bolivia today. Such a perspective, which seeks to advance the interest of Bolivia’s labouring classes at the expense of transnational capital, may be decried by some as mere reforms, but it is certainly not neoliberalism.

Laws vs. Color Revolutions in Latin America | ALBA

March 10, 2012: Thousands of Chávez supporters held demonstrations on to show support for their ailing leader while he recovers from cancer surgery. Photograph: Fernando Llano/AP

Strategic Culture Foundation

Nil NIKANDROV | 11.03.2012

The US intelligence is making systematic efforts to energize the political opposition in Latin American countries deemed unfriendly in Washington. The strategy encompasses the radicalization of the existing political parties and groups plus the creation of new ones pursuing ever more aggressive agendas, and the formation of a network of seemingly harmless NGOs ready to launch massive attacks against the regimes in their respective countries whenever their sponsors and curators chose to unleash them. It is a reality that newspapers and electronic media in Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela shower their audiences with allegations that the ruling populists are completely unable to tackle the problems of corruption and drug-related crime or to modernize the economies of the countries where they are at the helm.

Estimates show that at least 80% of the media in ALBA countries are slamming the nations’ leaders in a permanent information warfare campaign and providing a propaganda backing for pro-US and pro-Israel NGOs. In fact, the standoff between the ALBA governments and their opponents – the Washington-controlled fifth column and the NGOs – is in many regards a unique phenomenon. While Latin American populist leaders Rafael Correa, Evo Morales, and Hugo Chavez strictly abide by their countries’ constitutions, the camp challenging them does not recognize legal constraints in principle, especially when the situation holds the promises of a color revolution. For most of them, the escalation of a revolt into a full-blown civil war appears to be the optimal scenario since a bloody conflict would provide a pretext for a US military intervention.

The Ambiguous Avaaz

Originally published in Italian by il manifesto

TERRA TERRA – Marinella Correggia

2012.03.06

In 2011 the organization Avaaz, which calls itself the “global civic organization” and promotes activism on the Internet, has stood for two highly successful initiatives: the demand for international intervention “to protect civilians” in Libya and the ‘ support for the struggle of some indigenous groups in Bolivia against government plans to build a road in Tipnis (National Park Isidore Secure Indigenous Territory).

In the Libyan case, Avaaz has acted very quickly, good for taking the media lies about the “massacre of thousands of civilians by Gaddafi.” We have not seen subsequently make appeals to stop the war or NATO to protect civilians and Tawergha of Sirte. (It is now very active – even how to request funds – the demonization of the Syrian regime).

US Subverting Latin America: Bolivia and Venezuela Top Targets of Financially Backed Myriad of NGOs

Map Source: http://combatingglobalization.com/

November 6, 2011
Nil NIKANDROV
Strategic-Culture.org

US President John Kennedy Established USAID – the United States Agency for International Development – in November, 1962as an organization charged with an essentially humanitarian mission of providing economic and other support to struggling countries around the world. The agency’s stated goals therefore include conflict prevention, the expansion of democracy, humanitarian assistance, and human resources training, but the truth which is not deeply hidden is that the USAID activities tend to be tightly interwoven with those of the US Department of State, the CIA, and the Pentagon.

In Latin America, any illusions concerning the agenda behind USAID interventions proved to be short-living. A string of unmaskings of FBI and CIA agents who operated under the USAID cover were so fabulous that the actual character of the agency became impossible to conceal.Nevertheless, the USAID activity clearly got a boost over the first decade of the XXI century… In Haiti, for example, CIA operatives hosted by USAID coordinated and backed financially myriads of NGOs that in 2003-2004 were instrumental in toppling president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. For several days protesters in Haiti vandalized city streets, attacked government institutions, and showered Aristide with allegations of corruption and complicity in the drug business. A curious brand of rebels dressed in US military uniforms entered the stage shortly thereafter and occupied most of the country, eventually laying siege to its capital and the presidential palace. Aristide was arrested by US marines, taken to the airport, and – with no formalities like a court procedure – flown to South Africa. The warning issued to the displaced country leader in the process was that attempts to escape would earn him yet bigger trouble.

USAID also played the key role in organizing the June, 2009 coup in Honduras, where CIA agents under the USAID guise similarly guided and sponsored puppet NGO escapades, spread the myth of Honduran president M. Zelaya’s and Venezuelan leader H. Chavez’s joint communist conspiracy, and commanded the country’s army officers. The coup culminated in the arrest of Zelaya who, like Aristide, was forcibly taken to another country – Costa Rica in this case – and threatened that re-entering his home country would be lethal. As a result, Washington was happy about the resulting termination of Honduras’ drift towards the Latin American populist camp, the media pretended to stay unaware of the terrorist war on Zelaya’s supporters unleashed by the butchers marshaled by Honduran “de facto” new president R. Micheletti, and the USAID/CIA operatives who engineered the coup got their bonuses and promotions.

There is ample evidence that USAID is used extensively as a tool for inciting color revolutions and revolts in defiant countries across the Western hemisphere, especially in Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua…As for Cuba, USAID has been pulling off secret operations there for decades, but most of the agencies efforts aimed at planting in the country “independent” media and “alternative” political organizations in the form of trade unions or protest groups were remarkably unsuccessful. Cuba’s counter-espionage agency must be credited with enviable efficiency, while infighting occasionally erupts in the ranks of the opponents of the Cuban regime over the money poured in by the US. The permanent impression is that a considerable portion of the US funding supposed to help bring “democracy” to Cuba simply ends up in the pockets of CIA operatives and their local protégées. When leader of the Cuban opposition movement known as Ladies in White Laura Pollan died of natural causes recently, her co-workers initiated an inquiry into the group’s finances and discovered the disappearance of tens of thousands of dollars. USAID promptly hushed up the scandal, which was just one in a series of likewise incidents. The tendency for millions of dollars contributed by Washington to the anti-regime cause in Cuba to evaporate is widely attributed to the Cuban counter-espionage agency’s ability to cunningly divert USAID funds to its own needs.

The International Campaign Against Evo Morales

Published Feb 15, 2012 by Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

An extended version was originally published in English on Jan 23, 2012 by Political Context and Canadians for Action on Climate Change.

http://www.cambio.bo/opinion/20120215/la_campana_internacional_contra_evo_morales_64561.htm

Bolibya? Juan Carlos Zambrana sets the Record Straight on the Destabilization Campaign Against Morales Led by U.S. Funded NGOs

January 23, 2012

By Cory Morningstar

 

“Al-Jazeera, which started out as a credible news agency, has become the whore of international journalism and is as credible as the scrawlings of a demented simpleton on the walls of a football stadium. What is really happening in Syria, we shall be reporting in the forthcoming days. Meanwhile let us tell the story of Libya, which you will not see on Al-Jazeera, nor indeed on the British Bullshit Corporation, its friend and bedmate.” —Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, Pravda.Ru, from the article The West, Syria and Libya.

It is no secret that Al Jazeera has become an instrumental tool of propaganda (Wadah Khanfar, Al-Jazeera and the triumph of televised propaganda by Thierry Meyssan), serving the Imperialist powers in the expanding destabilization campaigns taking place at unprecedented speed across the globe. What is perhaps less known is the destabilization campaign staged against the Bolivian President Evo Morales, which Morales successfully circumvented and over-came in late 2011. (Media reported several deaths including a baby – all which proved to be complete fabrication.)

U.S. Funded Democracy Centre Reveals It’s Real Reason for Supporting the TIPNIS Protest in Bolivia: REDD $$$

U.S. Funded Democracy Centre Reveals It’s Real Reason for Supporting the TIPNIS Protest in Bolivia: REDD $$$

November 23rd, 2011

by Cory Morningstar

DI NO AL REDD – Rapido Enriquecimiento con Desalojos, usurpación de tierras y Destrucción de biodiversidad. SAY NO TO REDD – Reaping Profits from Evictions, Land Grabs, Deforestation and Destruction of Biodiversity

“Bolivia is and will remain a country who desperately struggles to resist Imperialism and fight for their autonomy – against all odds.”

The Democracy Centre, Avaaz and Amazon Watch are the main three NGOs, heavily funded by U.S. interests (Rockefellers, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Ford Foundation and Soros to name a few), who led the recent International campaign in which they denounced and demonized Bolivian Indigenous leader Evo Morales and his government. This destabilization campaign focused on the TIPNIS protests. A violent confrontation between TIPNIS protestors (influenced/funded by U.S. NGOs/USAID/CIDOB) and the police was the vital opportunity needed in order to execute a destabilization campaign that the U.S. has been strategically planning for decades. (Declassified Documents Revealed More than $97 Million from USAID to Separatist Projects in Bolivia | Evo Morales Through the Prism of Wikileaks – Democracy in Danger).

A key demand put forward by the TIPNIS protestors were that Indigenous peoples would directly receive financial compensation for ‘offsetting’ carbon emissions. This policy, known as REDD/REDD+ (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), has been denounced as the commodification and privatisation of the forests by many, including those within the climate justice movements. The ‘People’s Agreement’ created at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (April 2010) clearly condemned REDD, stating that it violates “the sovereignty of our Peoples.” REDD has been promoted as a mechanism to allow developed countries to continue to pollute while undermining the right for underdeveloped countries to develop their economies. Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environment Network stated unequivocally that “The carbon market solutions are not about mitigating climate, but are greenwashing policies that allow fossil fuel development to expand.”

Morales survived the orchestrated attempt to destabilize his government. No one’s fool, Morales did something completely unexpected that few if anyone had even considered: he granted the Indigenous peoples of the TIPNIS every single demand which the protestors, under foreign/outside influence had sought (although he made clear that on the issue of REDD, the ‘People’s Agreement’ adopted at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth would guide any future decision on this issue). Completely caught off guard by Morales response, and realizing, perhaps for the first time, whose lives would ultimately be affected by the outcomes of the demands, and how, one anxious protestor commented “we’re screwed“.

Video: Manipulation: Indigenous Peoples Alto Xingu-STOP pushing us for REDD (running time: 9:26)

Morales has been a world leader in his vocal opposition to REDD stating that “nature, forests and indigenous peoples are not for sale.” At the opposite end of the spectrum are the foundations (who serve as tax-exempt front groups for corporations and elites) who finance the NGOs who have led the campaign to discredit Morales are most all heavily promoting and investing in REDD. CIDOB is involved in pilot REDD projects funded by the NGO called FAN (Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza) which is funded by a slew of foreign interest entities/states and corporate NGOs such as USAID, Conservation International, European Union, American Electric Power, BP-Amoco and Dow Chemical‘s partner, The Nature Conservancy. Indeed, when it comes to the world’s most powerful NGOs voicing any dissent to the false solution of REDD, the silence is deafening. (http://www.redd-monitor.org/2011/10/26/manufacturing-consent-on-carbon-trading/)

The money behind the REDD scheme is in the trillions.

Above: Indigenous Peoples Alto Xingu – Stop Pushing Us For REDD – Photo: Rebecca Sommer

It is revealing to note that while the corporate NGOs worked feverishly to shine an International spotlight on the tear-gassing of the TIPNIS protestors by Bolivian police, a slaughter of 100,000 Libyan civilians was underway in an Imperialist, NATO-led invasion under the guise of ‘humanitarian intervention’. This invasion was made possible by the fabrication of events and lies put forward by 78 NGOs. To this day, there is no evidence to back these lies. The NGOs were and remain silent on this latest atrocity as the U.S./Euro Imperialist destabilization campaigns escalate in the Middle East in a race towards global domination.

The Democracy Centre makes clear it’s opposition to the Bolivian Morales government’s position on REDD in its policy statement on REDD drafted by staffer Kylie Benton-Connell [1]

In this report, the Democracy Centre both denies/ignores the involvement of USAID in the CIDOB promoted REDD Amazonia project via its funding to FAN, and argues that “The REDD Amazonia project is important, because it keeps the possibility of these kind of projects alive in Bolivian institutions, in a context where the national government is swimming against the tide of international REDD politics.”

Furthermore, Benton-Connell reiterates the Democracy Centre’s opposition to the Bolivian Morales government’s position and the Centre’s support for REDD in her article published on November 21, 2011 (link below and also published on the Democracy Centre’s website):

” The decision linking forest conservation to carbon markets may well be finalized at the UN climate negotiations in Durban at the beginning of December, unless it is blocked by dissident countries.”

Moreover, Benton-Connell tells us:

“… if today’s Bolivian government or a future one drops its opposition to carbon markets, and an international agreement is reached on trading in forest carbon, revenue streams could become much larger.”

Benton-Connell continues that the problem is not REDD itself, but how REDD is organized. She states:

“The fates of many ordinary people in Bolivia — and of similar communities across the globe — will be in play as technocrats discuss plans for forest carbon trading at the upcoming UN climate negotiations in Durban. As Marcos Nordgren Ballivián, climate change analyst with Bolivian organization CIPCA told us last year: “tensions already exist, and with a new source of profits such as REDD could prove to be, it might cause problems … But we’ll have to see how REDD is organized, because that will define, of course, if these conflicts are worsened.”

The following text appears 8 March 2010 in an article titled Getting REDDy to Cross the Finish Line, Two Decades in the Making: “It’s hard to imagine with all the progress REDD has achieved, that it all started less than 20 years ago with the Rio Summit in ’92, when the makings of a global sustainability architecture in the form of a climate treaty began to take shape. But a forestry treaty had yet to happen … With over 20 years of experience in the forestry sector, Michael Northrup, Program Director of Sustainable Development at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, was invited by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation to give a Distinguished Lecture, ‘After Copenhagen: Implications for U.S. Climate, Energy, and Forest Policy’ at the high brow, exclusive Cosmos Club. Northrup casually described to the 30 or so people in the room where we are with REDD today and how we got here. Plus he played the “name game” as he knew most of the people in the room.”

Of course, Rockefeller is not alone in its quest to lead and dominate on the promise of “green capitalism”; other members of the elites will not be left behind to feed on the breadcrumbs. For example, The Climate and Land Use Alliance, whose member foundations include the ClimateWorks Foundation (Avaaz partner), the Ford Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and multi-million dollar corporate NGOs – Greenpeace International and Rockefeller’s WWF have joined forces to push forward the false solution of REDD.

“The big business conservationists and their professionals didn’t buy off the movement; they built it.” –Katherine Barkley and Steve Weissman, “The Eco-Establishment“, in: Ramparts (eds.), Eco-Catastrophe, Harper and Row, 1970

Video: President Morales Speaks to Imperialism (UN Gen Ass, Sept 21, 2011)(Running time: 8:02)

Let us close while we reflect upon the words of author Juan Carlos Zambrana Marchetti:

“In the recent conflict over the construction of a highway through the TIPNIS indigenous territory, history repeated itself once again: indigenous people renounced all possibility of progress and integration in favor of the hidden political objective of the US to boycott the projects of crop-substitution and development center in the Chapare, wherein lies the core of the anti-imperialist consciousness of the Bolivian people. Once again, foreign interests have ensured that the Indians act against their own interests. This shows that a priority issue for the new agenda of president Morales should be to continue deconstructing the control mechanisms of the Western powers. “Philanthropy” has always been one of the most dangerous mechanisms.”

The article: http://www.alternet.org/water/153161/will_programs_to_off-set_carbon_emissions_fuel_further_conflict_in_bolivia%27s_forests?page=entire

For further reading on the International Campaign to Destabilize Bolivia: http://wrongkindofgreen.org/category/the-international-campaign-to-destabilize-bolivia/

[1] Benton-Connell worked with the Democracy Center in Cochabamba, Bolivia from February 2010 to June 2011, where she authored the report “Off the Market: Bolivian forests and struggles over climate change.”

Bolivia: Rumble Over Jungle Far from Over

Sunday, November 20, 2011 | Green Left Weekly

By Federico Fuentes

March from TIPNIS arrives in La Paz.

Despite the government reaching an agreement with indigenous protesters on all 16 demands raised on their 10-week march onto the capital, La Paz, the underlying differences are far from resolved.

On October 24, Bolivia’s Plurinational Legislative Assembly approved a new law banning the building of any highway through the Isiboro Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS).

Many groups supported the highway, which would have connected the departments of Beni and Cochabamba, and provide poor rural communities with greater access to markets and basic services.

However, it was opposed by 20 of the 64 indigenous communities in TIPNIS. It became the central rallying point of the march led by the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of the Bolivian East (CIDOB).

The march gained much sympathy, particularly among urban middle class sectors, after police meted out brutal repression against protesters on September 24.

Bolivian President Evo Morales immediately denied giving any orders to repress the protest. Apologising for the terrible event, Morales ordered a full investigation into the police attack.

Nevertheless, some important mobilisations in solidarity with the marchers were held in the days afterwards.

In response, government supporters took to the streets on October 12. Hundreds of thousands of indigenous peoples, campesinos (peasants), miners and neighbourhood activists from El Alto flooded the capital.

Having reached La Paz on October 19, march leaders sat down with Morales and government ministers for two days to reach agreement on their demands.

These demands ranged from opposition to the highway to land reform and the right of indigenous peoples to receive funds in return for converting forests within their traditional lands into carbon offsets.

It did not take long for the dispute to reignite, this time over the word “untouchable”, which was inserted into the TIPNIS law at the request of march leaders.

According to the government, the term “untouchable” required the immediate expulsion of all logging and tourism companies operating within TIPNIS, in some cases illegally.

However, march leaders who opposed the highway defended the industrial-scale logging within TIPNIS.

This includes two logging companies who operate more than 70,000 hectares within the national park and have signed 20 year contracts with local communities.

The government denounced the presence of a tourist resort within TIPNIS, equipped with two private airstrips to fly foreigners willing to pay US$7600 to visit the park.

Of this money, only $200 remains with local communities that have signed the contract with the foreign company.

Rather than defending some kind of romanticised “communitarianism”, much of the motivation behind the march was an attempt by community leaders to defend their control over natural resources as a means to access wealth.

The same is true of many of those groups that have demanded the law be overturned and the highway go ahead. Campesinos and coca growers see the highway as an opportunity to gain access to land for cultivation.

These differences underpin the divergent views regarding the new land law being proposed by campesino groups, but opposed by groups such as CIDOB.

The CIDOB advocates large tracts of land be handed over to indigenous communities as protected areas. Campesino groups are demanding more land be distributed to campesino families.

These differences have led to a split in the Unity Pact, which united the five main campesino and indigenous organisations despite longstanding differences.

This is perhaps the most important divisipn to have opened up within the Morales government’s support base. But is far from being the only one.

The TIPNIS march served as a pretext for opposition parties based among the urban middle classes to break down government support in these sectors.

On October 16, Bolivians took part in a historic vote to elect judges to the Constitutional Tribunal, the Agro-environmental Tribunal and Magistrates Council.

The corporate media used exit poll figures to announce that most had nullified their votes as opposition parties had called for. But the final result showed a different picture.

As votes from rural areas began to be counted, the supposed crushing victory for null votes was whittled away. The final results showed valid and null votes tying at 42%.

The opposition tried to turn the vote into a referendum on Morales.

Despite attempts to portray the null vote as a “progressive” protest vote against Morales, the results clearly showed that opposition to the election of judges was strongest in the right-wing controlled departments of the east and in the urban middle and upper class sectors.

In rural and poor urban areas, such as El Alto, valid votes overwhelming won out.

The null votes came from the same middle class sectors that came out onto the streets of La Paz in support of the indigenous march, and who spat out racist epitaphs against Morales and indigenous government supporters when they marched through the capital.

Meanwhile, territorial conflicts between various departments and local councils scrambling for resources and access to central government funding continue to provide headaches for the government.

Morales called a national summit for December to bring together the country’s social movements to collectively come up with a new “national agenda”.

The likelihood, however, of achieving consensus for a national development plan among competing social organisations, all with their own sectoral interests and who have seen that it is possible to twist the government’s arm by protesting, will no doubt be a difficult task.

[Federico Fuentes edits Bolivia Rising.]

http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/49515

Bolivia: Solidarity Activists Need to Support Process

Sunday, November 20, 2011 | Green Left Weekly

By Federico Fuentes

Bolivia’s first indigenous president celebrates winning a recall referendum in August 2008.

The recent march in Bolivia by some indigenous organisations against the government’s proposed highway through the Isiboro Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS) has raised much debate among international solidarity activists.

Such debates have occurred since the election of Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, in 2005 on the back of mass uprisings.

Overwhelmingly, solidarity activists uncritically supported the anti-highway march. Many argued that only social movements — not governments — can guarantee the success of the process of change.

However, such a viewpoint is not only simplistic; it can leave solidarity activists on the wrong side.

Kevin Young’s October 1 piece on Znet, “Bolivia Dilemmas: Turmoil, Transformation, and Solidarity”, tries to grapple with this issue by saying that “our first priority [as solidarity activists] must be to stop our governments, corporations and banks from seeking to control Bolivia’s destiny”.

Yet, as was the case with most articles written by solidarity activists, Young downplays the role of United States imperialism and argues the government was disingenuous in linking the protesters to it.

Others went further, denying any connection between the protesters and US imperialism.

The Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of the Bolivian East (CIDOB), the main organisation behind the march, has no such qualms. It boasted on its website that it received training programs from the US government aid agency USAID.

On the site, CIDOB president Adolfo Chavez, thanks the “information and training acquired via different programs financed by external collaborators, in this case USAID”.

Ignoring or denying clear evidence of US funding to such organisations is problematic. Attacking the Bolivian government for exposing this, as some did, disarms solidarity activists in their fight against imperialist intervention.

But biggest failure of the solidarity movement has been its silence on US and corporate responsibility for the conflict.

The TIPNIS dispute was not some romanticised, Avatar-like battle between indigenous defenders of Mother Earth and a money-hungry government intent on destroying the environment.

Underpinning the conflict was the difficult question of how Bolivia can overcome centuries of colonialism and underdevelopment to provide its people with access to basic services while trying to respect the environment. The main culprits are not Bolivian; they are imperialist governments and their corporations.

We must demand they pay their ecological debt and transfer the necessary technology for sustainable development to countries such as Bolivia (demands that almost no solidarity activists raised). Until this occurs, activists in rich nations have no right to tell Bolivians what they can and cannot do to satisfy the basic needs of their people.

Otherwise, telling Bolivian people that they have no right to a highway or to extract gas to fund social programs (as some NGOs demanded), means telling Bolivians they have no right to develop their economy or fight poverty.

Imperialism aims to keep Third World nations subordinate to the interests of rich nations. This is one reason foreign NGOs and USAID are trying to undermine the Morales government’s leading international role in opposing the grossly anti-environmental policies, such as Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).

REDD uses poor nations for carbon offsets so corporations in rich countries can continue polluting. Support for REDD was one of the demands of the protest march.

Young says “our solidarity should be with grassroots revolutionaries, anti-imperialists and defenders of human rights, not with governments or parties”.

But, as the TIPNIS case shows, when governments are trying to grapple with lifting their country out of underdevelopment, the demands of social movements with competing sectoral interests may clash.

In fact, some of the most strident supporters of the highway were also the very same social movements that solidarity activists have supported in their struggles against neoliberal governments during the last decade.

In such scenarios, you can only choose between supporting some social movement demands by dismissing legitimate demands of others, as many did with the TIPNIS case.

Lasting change can only come about when social movements begin to take power into their own hands when social movements become governments.

It is this objective that Bolivia’s social movements set. They forged their own political instrument through struggle ? commonly known as the Movement Towards Socialism ? and won a government they see as their own.

Having gone from a position of “struggle from below” to taking government from the traditional elites as an instrument to achieve their goal of state power, these social movements have begun winning control over natural resources and enacted a new constitution.

Converting the constitution’s ideals into a new state power remains a task for the Bolivian revolution.

But its success depends on the ability of “grassroots revolutionaries, anti-imperialists and defenders of human rights” ? operating within and without the existing state ? to struggle in a united way.

Our solidarity must be based on the existing revolutionary struggle in Bolivia, not a romanticised one we would prefer.

A permanent state of protests may be attractive for solidarity activists, but ultimately can only translate into a permanent state of demoralisation unless social movements can go beyond opposing capitalist governments and create their own state power.

Refusing to support the struggles as they exist illustrates a lack of confidence in the Bolivian masses to determine their own destiny. It also displays an arrogance on the part of those who, having failed to hold back imperialist governments at home, believe they know better than the Bolivians how to develop their process of change.

Mistakes are made in any struggle. But such mistakes should not be used to try and pit one side against another. We should have confidence that these internal conflicts can be resolved by the social movements themselves.

[Federico Fuentes edits Bolivia Rising.]

http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/49516

%d bloggers like this: