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Accomplishments of Eleven Years of the “Process of Change” in Evo Morales’ Bolivia

Chicago Alba Solidarity

January 4, 2018

by Stansfield Smith

 

Evo Morales will soon have been the president of Bolivia for 12 years, heralding the ascent of the indigenous social movements to governmental power. This ended the apartheid system against the indigenous that existed for 500 years in Bolivia. Evo won in 2005 with 53.7% of the vote, followed by re-elections in 2009 with 64.2% and 2014 with 61.3%.

The country has made great strides in economic development, national sovereignty, women’s and Original Peoples’ rights, respect for Mother Earth, raising the people’s standard of living, level of education, and health care.

His presidency, which has brought an era of relative social peace and economic growth, has been the longest in Bolivia’s history. Since 1825 Bolivia has had 83 presidents with 37, almost half, by means of coup d’etats. Previous presidents typically lacked social legitimacy, representing a political system that excluded participation of the indigenous peoples, plagued by social and economic inequality, subjugated to foreign interests, and complicit with the looting of natural resources. By 2002, after years of neoliberal regimes serving foreign, mostly US corporations, the proportion of the rural population living in extreme poverty had risen to 75%.

The election of Evo, a campesino movement leader and head of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), began what his government describes as the “Process of Change” that shifted power away from Bolivia’s traditional elite, the mostly white owners of industry and agriculture, and towards the majority, the mostly indigenous workers and campesinos.

Reflecting on the historic significance of the changes underway in Bolivia, Morales declared: “We are the indigenous blood of Mother Earth. Until now Bolivia has been ruled by a few families that have all the political and economic power. They despise, humiliate, marginalize and hate the majority of the indigenous population.” “After 525 years of colonization, we indigenous peoples are part of the construction of a new Plurinational State and we have full particpation in international political organizations and forums.” 

Why Has Economic Development Been so Successful During the Process of Change

The MAS government undertook an anti-neoliberal  program, which has enabled the economy to grow an average 5% per year since 2006, compared to 2.8% during the years 1951-2005. As a result, the Gross Domestic Product has grown four-fold from $9 billion in 2005 to  $36 billion today.  Bolivia has become the fastest growing economy in Latin America.

Economic strategy focused on regaining national sovereignty over the country’s natural resources and using this wealth not to enrich foreign multinationals but to raise the standard of living of the neglected people of Bolivia. In 2006 Evo Morales asserted public ownership over the country’s gas and oil resources, making foreign companies turn over extractive industry resources to the state. The state now fully controls  sales, transport and distribution as well as key decisions regarding the extraction and refining of raw materials. The nationalization decree also forced foreign oil companies to renegotiate contracts with the new administration. Today, foreign corporations still extract most of Bolivia’s natural gas, but do so as contractors hired by the state, on the state’s terms.

Prior to the nationalizations (not only of gas and oil, but telecommunications, water, electricity, and a number of mines), foreign corporations pocketed about 85% of the profits generated by natural gas production. Morales increased the country’s profit share from gas from about 15% before his presidency to between 80-90%.[i] In 2005, before nationalization, government gas revenues totaled $0.6 billion; in 2015 it was over four times as much, $2.6 billion – in fact down from $4.5 billion in 2014.

In 2015 all gas and oil revenues yielded $4 billion, making up nearly half of Bolivia’s export earnings.

Over ten years, Evo’s Bolivia has gained $31.5 billion from the nationalizations, compared to a mere $2.5 billion earned during the previous ten years of neoliberal policies. This vastly increased revenue, largely used to benefit the people, starkly exemplifies the extent the people have been robbed to serve foreign corporate interests.

By the end of 2013 the state-owned portion of the economy reached 35%, double that of previous neoliberal governments. The state has become the main generator of wealth, and public investment amounted to over $5 billion in 2016, compared to a mere $629 million in 2006.  Much of this new revenue funds the country’s impressive development, infrastructure, community projects, such as schools, gyms, clinics, roads, and subsidies for agricultural production. It is spent on the people’s health and education, on price controls for staple foods, on wage increases, and social security benefits.

This humane redistribution of national wealth away from corporate interests to serving the poor majority has allowed one in five Bolivians, two million people, to escape a life of poverty. Even the World Bank has recognized the country as world champion in income growth for the poorest 40% of its population.

In the US, the government is taking the opposite course, turning its back on the poor. Here the poverty has grown over the same period, from 12.3% to 12.7%.[ii] Vacant homes number 18,600,000  – enough for each homeless person to have 6. The government cut food stamps by $8.7 billion in 2014,  cut 500,000 poor from the program in 2016, with plans to slash $19.3 billion per year for ten years. Yet Washington increases the military budget this year by $80 billion, an amount that could make public college free.

For Bolivia to industrialize and diversify the economy, to move away from dependence on natural resource exports, is a difficult long-term task. The country did create 485,000 jobs in the productive sector between 2006-2010, and developed industries to process natural resources.[iii] It advanced significantly its agricultural production, now providing 95% of the country’s food.  Yet raw materials still account for  90% of Bolivia’s exports.

Big investments are underway in infrastructure construction, hydrocarbon exploration, industrialization of natural gas (for fertilizers and plastics), more lithium production, and electric power for export. “Here we have the presence of China, with cooperation without pre-conditions, with credit without conditions,” Evo Morales said, contrasting Chinese aid to Western aid.

New Social Programs to Eliminate Poverty

In Bolivia under Evo, poverty has declined from 60.6% of the population in 2005 to 38.6% in 2016. Extreme poverty (those living on less than $1.25 per day) fell from 38% to 16.8%. The real minimum wage has risen from 440 bolivars a month to 2,000 a month, (from $57 to $287) Unemployment stands at under 4%, the lowest in Latin America, down from 8.5% in 2005.

Here are some of the measures to combat poverty:

  1. Electricity has been brought to 66% of rural homes by 2015, up from 25% in 2001.
  2. Over 127,000 homes have been created for low income Bolivians who lack housing. Another 23,000 homes will be built in 2018.
  3. The Juancito Pinto program aims to increase school attendance and reduce child labor. It presently reaches 2 million children, who each receive $28 annually upon finishing their school year.
  4. The Juana Azurduy program combats maternal and infant mortality, as well as malnutrition in children under two years old. Mothers can receive up to $266 from the program. UNICEF has pointed out the effectiveness of these social programs. Chronic undernourishment in children under wo has sharply fallen from 27%, when the program started in 2009 to 16% now, and infant mortality has been cut in half just since 2008.
  5. The Renta de la Dignidad is a payment to the 900,000 Bolivians over 60 years old, who would otherwise receive no pension. Incapacitated and disabled people now receive 250 bolivianos ($36) monthly and guaranteed job placement in public and private institutions.

More than 4.8 million Bolivians – in a country of just over 10 million – today benefit from these  programs, progams which not just combat poverty, but  improve public health and education.

Meanwhile in the US the bottom 90% of households are poorer today than they were in 1987.

Bolivia has cut income inequality by two-thirds, with the share of income of the top 10% vis-à-vis the poorest 10% has dropped from 128 to 1 in 2005 to 37 to 1 in 2016.

In the US, after years of neoliberal programs, we have the shocking fact that the three richest US citizens have more wealth than the bottom 50% of the population.

Gains for Rights of Original Peoples

The country, after a national discussion initiated by Bolivia’s five main indigenous campesino organizations, adopted a new constitution. The new document recognized Bolivia as a Plurinational State, with equal status and autonomy for Original Peoples, and also reclaimed control over natural resources. The new government has even established a Ministry of Decolonization (with a Depatriarchalization Unit) to further the uprooting of the previous apartheid system. By 2011, 90 of the 166 elected representatives of the national assembly came directly from the ranks of the progressive social movements. [iv]

Gains in Education and Health Care

Bolivia had an illiteracy rate of 13% when Evo Morales became president. After a mass literacy campaign that used Cuba’s YES I CAN program, 850,000 were educated and by 2008 Bolivia was declared free of illiteracy.  The country is second to Cuba in Latin America in terms of funding education. There are now 16,000 educational establishments in the country, 4,500 of them were built since 2006 with the funds from the nationalized gas industry.

Life expectancy of Bolivians during Evo’s presidency has increased from 64 years to 71 years. This is partly the result of the almost 700 members of the Cuban medical brigade working in the country. Cuba’s Operation Miracle has also enabled 676,000 Bolivians to have had their vision restored. Moreover, around 5,000 Bolivians have obtained their medical degrees in Cuba, going back to their country to provide their services. The country now has 47 new hospitals and over 3,000 health centers being built.

Land Distribution and Food Self-Sufficiency

Before Evo became president, 5% of property owners owned 70% of the arable land.[v] From 2006-2010 over 35 million hectares of land (1/3rd of Bolivia), was handed over to Original Peoples’ peasant communities to be run communally. This included government lands, large estates, and forest. Another 21 million hectares previously occupied illegally by large landowners were declared public lands, mostly protected forests.[vi] The land reform law expropriated underutilized lands, and permitted seizure of property from landowners employing forced labor or debt peonage. In all, approximately 800,000 low-income peasants have benefited. Of those who received titles to their land, 46% have been women. For the first time since the European conquest, smallholders control 55% of all land. The government ensures that these small producers receive preferential access to equipment, supplies, loans, and state subsidized markets, key factors in enabling the country to become self-sufficient in food.

US Interference and Regime Change Attempts

As John Perkins points out in Confessions of an Economic Hitman, any government pursuing anti-neoliberal economic policies or its own foreign policy independent of the US, as the case with Rafael Correa’s Ecuador and Evo’s Bolivia, becomes a US target for overthrow.

Evo Morales has become one of Washington’s most disfavored leaders in the Americas.  Washington continues to be concerned about Evo revolutionizing the indigenous movements in the region, and  tries to tarnish his reputation as an indigenous movement leader.

Wikileaks documents show that the US tried to undermine the presidencies of Evo Morales and Rafael Correa even before they were elected. Right after Evo’s inauguration, the US ambassador made it clear to him that funding by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank and IMF depended on his “good behavior,” [vii] that is: back off nationalizing Bolivia’s petroleum resources. When Morales rejected these “orders,” including naming government ministers and military leaders without seeking prior US embassy consent, Washington began financing Bolivian opposition groups seeking to overthrow the indigenous government.

Washington  used USAID, NED [National Endowment for Democracy], IDB, World Bank, and IMF, to take punitive measures such as vetoing multilateral loans, postponing talks on alleviating Bolivia’s foreign debts, and discouraging international loans and grants. US Ambassador Greenlee wrote in a cable, in January 2006, just months after Morales’ election, “U.S. assistance, the largest of any bilateral donor by a factor of three, is often hidden by our use of third parties to dispense aid with U.S. funds.” He noted “many USAID-administered economic programs run counter to the direction the GOB [Government of Bolivia] wishes to move the country.”

US embassy cables showed Washington sought to create divisions in the social and indigenous movements that make up the support base of the country’s first indigenous-led government. Despite recognizing these were “traditionally confrontational organizations” vis-a-vis the US, Greenlee believed that “working more closely with these social sector representatives” who expressed dissent towards Morales “seems to be most beneficial to [US government] interests”.

USAID poured at least $85 million into Bolivia. Initially, the US hoped to destabilize the government by training the separatists in the richer Santa Cruz area in the eastern lowlands. USAID money flowed to groups in these opposition-based areas, as part of “USAID’s larger effort to strengthen regional governments as a counter-balance to the central government.” [viii]

Soon these eastern regions, the Media Luna, were in open rebellion, demanding a referendum on autonomy. Resulting protests led to the killing of at least 20 MAS supporters who had mobilized to crush the rebellion. The separatists’ goal was to divide Bolivia into two separate republics: a poor one governed by an indigenous majority and a much wealthier one run by European descendants in the areas home to the gas transnationals and large agribusiness.

The US never denounced opposition violence, not even after the massacre of the MAS supporters. Moreover, the US Embassy knew in advance of the opposition plans to blow up gas lines, but did not report it, nor even attempt to dissuade the opposition from doing so.[ix]

Evo was soon to expel US Ambassador Goldberg for his interference. Nevertheless, USAID  “still channeled at least $200 million into the country since 2009.”  USAID was eventually expelled in 2013.

Once the Media Luna separatist plan collapsed,[x] USAID switched to courting indigenous communities by using environmental NGOs. The Aymaras – Evo is one — and Quechuas, Bolivia’s two largest indigenous peoples, live mostly in the highlands and central regions. The east is home to the remaining 34 indigenous peoples. In 2011 new anti-government protests in the east again arose, this time around a planned TIPNIS highway.

Protests against the Government around the TIPNIS (Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory)

The Bolivian government planned to build a highway — actually to widen, pave and connect two roads with a 20-40 mile new connector — going through the TIPNIS. Western funded NGOs along with some local indigenous groups organized an international campaign against the MAS government, claiming Evo was repressing the indigenous and destroying untouched nature. This campaign was partly funded by USAID  and received sympathetic reporting in NACLA, UpsideDownWorld, Amazon Watch, and other liberal-left alternative media, which either omitted or discounted the US role. Avaaz [xi] and allied NGOs in solidarity with the protest groups organized international petition of protest. This foreign interference served to exacerbate a resolvable internal Bolivian dispute.

Fred Fuentes and Cory Morningstar wrote several exposés of this Western campaign against Evo, the covering up of the facts surrounding the TIPNIS road and the protests, including the USAID funding.[xii]  Evo Morales even revealed transcripts of phone calls between the anti-highway march organizers and U.S. embassy officials, including calls right before the march set out.

That the TIPNIS protest leaders supported the REDD (Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), which would give Western NGOs and these indigenous groups funds for monitoring TIPNIS forests, was also not mentioned by liberal-left alternative media. REDD uses poor nations for carbon offsets so corporations in rich countries can continue polluting.

Many Western solidarity activists uncritically supported the anti-highway march. Many of their articles about the issue downplayed and made no mention of connections between the protest leaders and Washington and the Santa Cruz right wing.

Eventually the issue was resolved through a consultation process, and 55 of the 69 TIPNIS indigenous communities agreed to the road.[xiii]

US Manipulation Helped Cause Evo’s Loss in the 2016 Constitutional Referendum

The US again intervened to influence the February 21, 2016 referendum to change the constitution to allow Evo Morales to run again for the presidency. A smear campaign against him took place, including false stories of his corruption, nepotism, and fathering a child with a lover, which led to him losing the vote. The day is now recognized as the “Day of the Lie.” On the 2017 anniversary, mobilizations around the country backed the Process of Change and rejected the previous year’s vote. Washington is already at work to block his renomination in 2019.

USAID and NED Funding of Oppositional Forces

According to Bolivia’s Cabinet Chief Juan Ramon Quintana, from 2006-2015 NED funded around 40 institutions in Bolivia including economic and social centers, foundations and non-governmental organizations, for a total of over $10 million. For 2013, the combined NED and USAID allocations for Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia totaled over $60 million, with the bulk of these funds destined to Cuba and Ecuador.

The Issue of  “Extractivism” in Bolivia

Linda Farthing notes that in world colonial and neocolonial history,  “the exploitation of [Bolivia’s] considerable natural resources has also been nearly unparalleled.”  It included Spain’s richest gold and silver mine, one the richest tin mines, two of today’s  largest silver and iron ore mines, half of the world’s lithium,  and South America’s second largest gas reserves.  She adds, “It comes as no surprise that Bolivia’s history and environment have been dominated by relentless extraction.”

A central challenge facing Latin American governments is overcoming this dependency on raw material exports to a world market controlled by Western powers. This issue, who some present as “extractivism,” has become one of the main points of liberal-left and environmental NGO criticism of the positive changes in both Evo’s Bolivia and Correa’s Ecuador.

 “Extractivism” is a deliberately politically neutral and ahistorical term that conceals the brutal history that created the present First World-Third World system. “Extractivism” glosses over what has been 500 years of mass murder of Original Peoples, their slavery and semi-slavery for the purpose of plundering their gold, silver and other natural resources.

The Third World remains dependent on raw material exports, with their economies fragmented into specialized extractive industries geared towards a world market controlled by the First World, alongside backward, low-tech domestic industries and a bloated informal sector.

Bolivia cannot compete in industrial production with countries with more modern institutions, citizens with a higher educational level, developed infrastructure, and with access to the sea. To break free from being a low-cost provider of raw materials, whether mineral or agricultural, will be a long process.

As Fred Fuentes notes,  the question of “extractivism” centers on how a Third World country like Bolivia can overcome centuries of colonialism and neocolonialism to provide its people with basic services while trying to respect the environment. The main culprits are not Bolivian, but  the Western governments and their corporations. Defenders of the indigenous and Bolivia  must demand the West pay its ecological debt and transfer the necessary technology for sustainable development to countries such as Bolivia. “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.”

Environmental Achievements

Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Linera points out that Bolivia contributes 0.1% of the world’s greenhouse gases, but its trees clean 2% of the world’s carbon dioxide, resupplying that as oxygen. He attacks the Western “colonial, elitist environmental NGOs” for imposing their environmental demands on the Third World, saying they are blind to the Third World’s right to development.

Fuentes called out Western so-called defenders of Bolivia’s environment who attack Evo Morales over extractivism, for not devoting a single article on how the government has drastically cut deforestation 64% between 2010-2013. He asked, “why have media outlets, seemingly so concerned about Bolivia’s environment, failed to investigate what might be the steepest reduction in greenhouse gas emission per capita of any country in the world?”

They also do not mention that in South America, Bolivia has the greatest number of trees per inhabitant. Peru has 1,500, Brazil 1,400, Argentina 1,200, Colombia 1000, Ecuador, 600, Paraguay 2, 500. Bolivia has 5,400. And this year they will plant another 5 million.

Misrepresenting the Morales government’s environmental record often aims to delegitimize Morales’ position not only as a leading spokesperson for the indigenous but  in the global fight against climate change. Evo has rejected the carbon offset REDD schemes many Western environmental NGOs supported and clearly blames global warming on the  First World’s capitalist operations. “I’m convinced that capitalism is the worst enemy of humanity and the environment, enemy of the entire planet.”  He has demanded the Western rich countries repay their climate debt by transfer of technology and funds to the Third World.

Bolivia as a center of anti-imperialist social movements

The Bolivian government has sought to build political alliances with other governments and social movements in order to help strengthen the global forces for fundamental change. Liberal-left critics of Evo Morales, who attack him around TIPNIS, “extractivism,” even for being a neoliberal, so often willing to offer  a checklist of measures for how Bolivian socialism should be built, so often willing to portray Evo Morales as backtracking after he took office,  tend to go mum on his anti-imperialist measures, conferences, and statements.

Evo Morales has become an outspoken world leader against US hegemony and has pushed hard to make Bolivia a center of anti-imperialist social movements. Bolivia organized a number of international conferences: People’s Summit on Climate Change (2010), Anti-imperialist and Anticolonial Summit of the Peoples of Latin America and the World (2013), Anti-Imperialist International Trade Union Conference (2014),  the G77 Summit of 133 Third World nations (2014), the key promotor of the United Nations’ World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (2014), World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Defense of Life  (2015), World Conference of the Peoples For a World Without Borders towards Universal Citizenship (2017).

He has called for rich countries to pay climate reparation to those poorer ones suffering the effects of climate change. Warning of a coming “climate holocaust” that will destroy parts of Africa and many island nations, he called for an international climate court of justice to prosecute countries for climate crimes.

In 2016 he inaugurated a military “Anti-Imperialist Commando School,” saying “We want to build anti-colonial and anti-capitalist thinking with this school that binds the armed forces to social movements and counteracts the influence of the School of the Americas that always saw the indigenous as internal enemies.”

Besides expelling the US ambassador and USAID for their roles in coup plotting, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was expelled in 2009 for its actions against social organizations and for interfering with the actual struggle against narcotrafficking.

Evo Morales’ anti-cocaine program has resulted in land used for coca production being reduced by one-fifth since 2005. [xiv] The OAS considers Bolivia’s program “a best practice…[worthy of] replication”; it is also praised by the UN Office of Drug Control. The DEA’s military base was transformed into the Cochabamba airport and renamed Soberania [Sovereignty].

“I am pleased to have expelled the U.S. ambassador, the Drug Enforcement Administration and to have closed the U.S. military base in Bolivia. Now, without a U.S. ambassador, there is less conspiracy, and more political stability and social stability.” And in reference to the IMF and World Bank, which had served to force Bolivia to divert funds away from social welfare programs, he added “Without the International Monetary Fund, we are better off economically.”

Speaking of the US’ $700 billion military budget, Evo said “”If that money was used for cooperation or to fight poverty, we could solve so many [of the world’s social and environmental] problems.” Instead, “The US creates and perpetuates international conflicts for profit….The capitalist system that [it] represents is not a policy that embodies the people of the United States but a policy of the transnational corporations, especially those that commercialize weapons and push for an arms race…they use any pretext against the anti-imperialist countries to subdue and dominate them politically and rob them economically. They’re after our natural resources.”

Challenges Facing The Process of Change

Evo has said that “the retreat of the left in Latin America is due to the incapacity of progressive governments to face a media war and the lack of political training of the youth”. Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linera also pointed out that progressive governments have failed to promote a kind of cultural revolution alongside the political revolution; social programs have successfully lifted many out of poverty, creating a new middle class with new consumerist attitudes, without promoting a corresponding new value system; progressive governments must do more to tackle the entrenched corruption of the neoliberal years; the question of the continuity of leadership remains a challenge; and Latin American economic integration remains a weakness despite considerable advances in political regional integration.

Three factors may cause Bolivia’s Process of Change to stagnate and be partially reversed. It has not moved beyond anti-neoliberalism policies, that have brought great benefits to the people, in a more anti-capitalist direction.  While the MAS government has democratized the traditional Bolivian state, it has modified this bourgeois state but not replaced it with a new one that would be a superior tool for the indigenous campesino and working people to advance their struggle. It has not built an organization of activists committed to leading this struggle with the people.

Now coming on 12 years of the Process of Change, Bolivia is a new country under the leadership of Evo Morales and Garcia Linera. Each passing year is one more of social, political and economic transformation, of opening up national decision-making to the indigenous communities, peasant and worker social movements. Not only have the faces of those who govern radically changed, but the country itself. From one of the poorest countries in Latin America, it has become the leader in sustained economic growth. From a country founded on social exclusion to the point of apartheid, it has become a country of inclusion for all, where more than half the Congress consists of women, where illiteracy is eliminated, where the people have free health care and education, and  have gained much greater control over the wealth of their natural resources.

 

[Stansfield Smith maintains ChicagoALBASolidarity.wordpress.com, produces the AFGJ Venezuela and ALBA Weekly, and is active in the movement against US interference in Latin America. He co-founded the Chicago Committee to Free the Cuban 5 in 2002 and was active in that campaign through their freedom in 2014. He administers the Facebook groups ‘Friends of Evo’s Bolivia/ Amigos de la Bolivia de Evo,” “Stand with Venezuela,””Friends of Ecuador- North America,” among others. His Masters thesis at the University of Chicago was ‘The Development of the Labor Theory of Value in Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and Karl Marx.”]

[i]  Linda Farthing gives different figures: “the total government take shot up to about 70 percent of production, making gas its primary income source with annual revenues jumping from $332 million before nationalization to more than $2 billion today.”

[ii] These figures understate the actual figure as they exclude the 12 million undocumented, who are disproportionately poor.

[iii] Federico Fuentes, “Bad Left Government” vs “Good Social Movements”? in Steve Ellner (ed.) Latin America’s Radical Left, Maryland:Rowman & Littlefield (2014) p. 110

[iv]  Federico Fuentes « Bolivia’s Communitarian Socialism », Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions, Halifax, Winnepeg:Fernwood Publishing; London, NewYork: Zed Books (2013) p. 86

[v] Dangl, Ben, “The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia,” California: AK Press (2007) p.95

[vi] Federico Fuentes,  Federico Fuentes « Bolivia’s Communitarian Socialism », Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions, Halifax, Winnepeg:Fernwood Publishing; London, NewYork: Zed Books (2013) p. 85

[vii] The Wikileaks Files: The World According to US Empire, London, New York: Verso (2015) p. 504

[viii] Ibid., p. 507; quote is from a US government cable. See also https://sputniknews.com/latam/201602191035028066-bolivia-wikileaks-us-funding-separatists/

and El informe de 2007 de la USAID

[ix]  The Wikileaks Files: The World According to US Empire, (2015: 508).  “The US had full knowledge of opposition groups’ terrorist plans, and yet did not denounce them,” Eirik Vold [author of Ecuador In the Sights: The WikiLeaks Revelations and the Conspiracy Against the Government of Rafael Correa] told Prensa Latina, adding that the US had prior knowledge of a planned attack on a natural gas pipeline, which resulted in a ten percent decrease in Bolivia’s in gas exports to Brazil.”

[x] The Media Luna attempted coup broke under the pressure of several Latin American anti-neoliberal governments (Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, El Salvador, Ecuador y Nicaragua) issued a declaration in support of Bolivia’s constitutional government. Nevertheless the US continued to maintain constant communication with the leaders of the separatist movement.

[xi] It included 61 signers, only two from Bolivia. US signers included Amazon Watch, Biofuelwatch, Democracy Center, Food and Water Watch, Global Exchange, NACLA, Rainforest Action Network.

[xii] Fred Fuentes, “Bad Left Government” versus “Good Left Social Movements”? in Latin America’s Radical Left  (2014) pp. 120-121

[xiii] Linda C.  Farthing, Benjamin H. Kohl Evo’s Bolivia: Continuity and Change, Austin, University of Texas Press (2014) pp. 52-54

[xiv] Drug seizures have almost tripled under Evo,  Informe Presidencial, 22 de enero 2017 http://www.embolivia.org.br/UserFiles/File/PDFs/emb_inf2017.pdf p. 12

 

Soft Coups in Latin America: How Left-Liberal Alternative Media & Environmental NGOs Help the US in Bolivia & Ecuador

Chicago ALBA Solidarity

October 9, 2015

by Stansfield Smith

 

ALBA Chicago

The US now engineers “regime change” not so much by using the military, in part because of their military quagmires in the Middle East, in part because Obama has sought to give a new face and new credibility to the Empire after the damage it suffered during Bush years. The US relies on soft coups: media campaigns and mass demonstrations against “corruption,” for “human rights,” “democracy,” “freedom,” aimed at the target government. The US makes skillful use of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to carry out its plans, which often appeal to cherished liberal-left values and sentiments.  The leadership of these soft coups and color revolutions are made to seem just like us, with our liberal Western values. Overlooked or concealed are the actual political and economic plans the leaders of these movements will implement – first defeat the dictatorship and then all else will later fall into place.  As a result, many people opposed to US military interventionism are taken in, many often willingly.

Progressive Latin American governments are one target for soft coups engineered by the US.  The US seeks to overthrow democratically elected presidents through media campaigns of lies and half-truths, inciting social discontent, delegitimizing the government, provoking violence in the streets, economic disruptions and strikes.

For those opposed to all US intervention, particularly those of us living in the US, we are called upon to expose these new methods of soft coup interference. The standard practice involves the role of USAID, National Endowment for Democracy (NED), International Republican Institute (IRI), National Democratic Institute (NDI) in helping to finance NGOs to do their dirty work.  NGOs have become the humanitarian face of imperialist intervention.

Behind the rhetoric of “democracy promotion,” Washington aims to impose neoliberal regimes that open their markets to the US without conditions and align themselves with US foreign policy. While these goals are known by the leaders of the US backed “color revolutions,” they are not shared with, let alone accepted by their followers. When these takeovers do succeed, citizens soon rebel against the new policies imposed on them, but it is too late to turn back.

The US government has long sought to overthrow socialist Cuba and the anti-neoliberal and anti-imperialist ALBA governments of Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia, and re-establish neocolonial governments. In the cases of President Correa of Ecuador and Evo Morales of Bolivia, this goes back to before their first runs for presidency.  Green Left Weekly ran a series of articles on continuous US efforts to get rid of Correa, even before he came into office.[1] No serious article on the conflicts in Correa’s Ecuador can omit the ten year US effort inside Ecuador to get rid of Correa.

Any serious analysis of what is happening in a Third World country, whether a progressive one or not, must start with the role Western imperialism has played. Otherwise, the analysis does not clarify the causes of the problems, but just indirectly gives cover to US imperialism.

The work of Eva Golinger (until recently*) and Federico Fuentes of Green Left Weekly, are models of progressive intellectuals, defending the peoples and countries of Latin America. They have exposed the role of USAID and NED in corrupting particular indigenous groups in Bolivia and Ecuador: during Bolivia’s TIPNIS protests, with Pachakutik, Conaie and the Yasunidos in Ecuador. They have exposed the role of the US financed environmental NGOs in these countries, such as Fundacion Pachamama, Accion Ecologica, Amazon Watch. [* She now seems to have more in common with the liberal-left alternative media criticized  below. https://chicagoalbasolidarity.wordpress.com/2017/08/19/correcting-eva-golinger-on-venezuela/]

This does not mean some indigenous and environmental groups have legitimate concerns. The problem occurs when the US funds leaders of groups to manipulate their members in order to exacerbate the problem. In the 1980s, the US used the Miskito Indian groups in Nicaragua to foment armed conflict with the Sandinistas. This does not mean the Miskitos did not have legitimate grievances, they had, but these were manipulated by the US to further its goal of overthrowing the Sandinistas. Likewise, indigenous peoples in Ecuador and Bolivia have legitimate concerns about development projects in the TIPNIS or Yasuni, for instance, but are deliberately used by US agencies to foment rebellion against their governments.

Using indigenous and environmental groups to attack their governments is a key part of the US government’s anti-Correa and anti-Evo Morales campaign. Unfortunately, consciously or not, this campaign is furthered in various alternative media centers, and can be seen in UpsideDownWorld, NACLA, In These Times, ROAR, CommonDreams, Jacobin, WagingNonViolence, Alternet, MintPressNews, even Naomi Klein, and recently Real News Network.

Too often, when liberal-left alternative media [2] address Latin America, we find articles legitimizing the views of these same US influenced environmental NGOs and related indigenous groups. This media has to some extent become a transmission belt for US propaganda, as knowing or unknowing participants in soft coup operations against these countries.

We find these alternative media outlets voicing and even being mouthpieces for US connected indigenous organizations and environmental NGOs, defending their protests against Evo Morales and Rafael Correa. For instance, Upside Down World has criticized Evo over TIPNIS, discounted the 2010 coup against Correa as not being a coup (the same line as the US government), defended the rightwing protests against Correa, and objected to the closing of US backed NGOs.

Covering up US Interference in Bolivia

In NACLA Emily Achtenberg wrote over ten articles on the Bolivian TIPNIS highway conflict and barely mentioned the close coordination of the protest leaders with the US Embassy. This is not simply an oversight, it is a cover-up.

“It’s not the first time that Morales has accused protest movements—including the TIPNIS marchers—of links to outside forces (such as the U.S. Embassy and right-wing opposition groups) who are seeking to destabilize his government. Protest leaders view these allegations largely as a tactic to undermine their credibility and mobilize support for the government.”[3]

Achtenberg avoids presenting the evidence of US government interference, and instead points the finger at Evo Morales.

She goes further in another article:

“A few telephone calls [between the US Embassy in Bolivia and the protest leaders] hardly prove a conspiracy, and many familiar with WikiLeaks cables accept that Embassy personnel routinely maintain contact with diverse social sectors. Serious concerns have been raised about the government’s potential violation of privacy laws in obtaining telephone records without a court order” [4]

Exposing the US role in the march takes a back seat to repeating US concerns over the Bolivian government’s alleged violations of privacy laws.

Ben Dangl follows Achtenberg in similar apologetics for the US role in the TIPNIS protests in his article in Upside Down World, “The Politics of Pachamama: Natural Resource Extraction vs. Indigenous Rights and the Environment in Latin America.” [5]

Contrast this with an article by Nil Nikandrov defending Bolivian sovereignty:

“According to journalist and author Eva Golinger, USAID poured at least $85 million into destabilizing the regime in the country. Initially, the US hoped to achieve the desired result by entraining the separatists from the predominantly white Santa Cruz district. When the plan collapsed, USAID switched to courting the Indian communities with which the ecology-oriented NGOs started to get in touch a few years before. Disorienting accounts were fed to the Indians that the construction of an expressway across their region would leave the communities landless, and the Indian protest marches to the capital that followed ate away at the public standing of Morales. It transpired shortly that many of the marches including those staged by the TIPNIS group, had been coordinated by the US embassy. The job was done by embassy official Eliseo Abelo, a USAID curator for the Bolivian indigenous population. His phone conversations with the march leaders were intercepted by the Bolivian counter-espionage agency and made public, so that he had to escape from the country while the US diplomatic envoy to Bolivia complained about the phone tapping.” [6]

Federico Fuentes noted USAID funding behind the TIPNIS protests:

“The Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of the Bolivian East (CIDOB), the main organisation behind the march, has no such qualms [about its connection to the US]. 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”.

He brought to light what Achtenberg and Dangl seek to conceal:

“neither of the Internet statements [an anti-Evo Morales Avaaz petition and September 21, 2011 letter to Morales signed by over 60 environmental groups]  mentions the protesters’ support for the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) program. REDD is a grossly anti-environmental United Nations program that aims to privatise forests by converting them into “carbon offsets” that allow rich, developed countries to continue polluting.

 

Some of the biggest proponents of this measure can be found among the NGOs promoting the march. Many of these have received direct funding from the US government, whose ambassador in Bolivia was expelled in September 2008 for supporting a right-wing coup attempt against the elected Morales government.

 

Rather than defend Bolivia’s sovereignty against US interference, the letter denounces the Bolivian government for exposing connections between the protesters and “obscure interests”.

 

These “obscure interests” include the League for the Defense of the Environment (LIDEMA), which was set up with US government funds….

 

Secret US diplomatic cables recently released by WikiLeaks and declassified US government files have conclusively shown that USAID directly targets indigenous communities in a bid to win them away from support for Morales and towards supporting US interests.” [7]

Western financed NGOs, such as Avaaz, Amazon Watch and Democracy Center, serve to provide a “left” cover to the global 1% campaign for “regime change” in Bolivia and Ecuador. They seek to demonize Evo Morales and Rafael Correa, thereby undermining the opposition of progressive people’s in the West to their engineering a “soft coup” in these countries.[8]

In 2011 Amazon Watch carried out an even more vociferous and dishonest propaganda campaign against Evo Morales’ Bolivia, claiming to defend the TIPNIS and indigenous rights in Bolivia. Again, no mention is made of the US role in the protests, nor that Evo’s government had a number of the police responsible for the unauthorized violence of the protest marchers fired, nor that Evo agreed to the protestors’ demands.[9]

Funders of Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network (RAN) include: Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (which works with NED), Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, The Overbrook Foundation, Moriah Fund (directors connected with USAID and Bill Clinton’s administration), Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The David & Lucile Packard Foundation.[10]

In 2013, Pedro Nuni, one of the central leaders of these TIPNIS protests, defended by much Western alternative media, announced he was joining a rightwing party.[11] This, this alternative media conveniently forgot to mention.

Passing knowledge of Latin American history informs us it is ludicrous to think the US does not play a role in coups and protest movements against progressive governments. We ask how any writers and websites considering themselves honest, would not bring these US connections to light.

US coups and attempted coups pose are as constant in Latin America today as they were decades ago:  Chavez in Venezuela (2002, 2003), Aristide in Haiti (2004), Evo Morales in Bolivia (2008),  Zelaya in Honduras (2009), Correa in Ecuador (2010), Lugo in Paraguay (2012), Maduro in Venezuela (2013, 2014), and a wave of coup attempts this past summer (2015) in Ecuador, Bolivia,  Dilma Rousseff in Brazil and Christina Fernandez in Argentina, Sanchez Ceren in El Salvador. US coup-plotting remains a continuous constant threat to the sovereignty of the Latin American peoples.

Ecuador: Covering Up the US Role in the 2010 Coup and US Infiltration of Indigenous and Environmental Groups

As in Evo’s Bolivia, a central ingredient of the US anti-Correa campaign involved using indigenous groups and environmental NGOs to attack the Correa government, a campaign reflected in media outlets such as Upside Down World, NACLA and NGOs like Amazon Watch.

In Ecuador, we can see these apologetics for the US Empire in reports on the September 30, 2010 coup attempt against Rafael Correa. At the time, Upside Down World approvingly published CONAIE’s (Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador) statement on the attempted police coup against Correa, which made no mention of US involvement, and blamed President Correa for the political conflict that led to the coup.[12]

Marc Becker, a regular contributor on Ecuador for Upside Down World, posted a statement by, Pachakutik (the political wing of CONAIE) delegate Lourdes Tiban of Ecuarunari, which he called “maybe Ecuador’s most radical indigenous movement.” Tiban’s Ecuarunari statement, issued during the attempted coup, actually called for overthrowing President Correa: “the only revolutionary alternative is to fight against supporters of the [Correa] dictatorship.”

In contrast, Evo Golinger and Jean Guy Allard made clear the US role in the attempted coup against Correa. Allard pointed out the US infiltration of the police, who led the coup, as well as the armed forces.[13]

Golinger exposed the USAID and NED connections with indigenous groups such as CONAIE and in particular Pachakutik, which backed the coup:

“During the events of September 30 in Ecuador, one of the groups receiving USAID and NED financing, Pachakutik, sent out a press release backing the coup-plotting police and demanding the resignation of President Correa, holding him responsible for what was taking place.  The group even went so far as to accuse him of a “dictatorial attitude.”  Pachakutik entered into a political alliance with Lucio Gutiérrez in 2002 and its links with the former president are well known:” [14] [15]

Golinger also publicized the School of Americas graduate involved in the coup, the role of the high level CIA agent Norman Bailey, and that of indigenous leader Lourdes Tiban’s ties with Norman Bailey, USAID/NED and the Ecuadoran business class.[16]

Golinger showed that many Ecuadoran organizations, some linked to the indigenous movement and directed by National Assembly member Lourdes Tiban, received funding from USAID and NED to destabilize the government of President Rafael Correa. Tiban, of the Pachakutik Party, is part of the Indigenous Enterprise Corporation, an organization that “actively” receives funding from USAID.

Yet even today Upside Down World remains a strong defender of these two USAID connected indigenous groups in Ecuador, even after their participation in the violent right-wing protests against Correa in summer 2015.

Ecuador ‘s Closing Down of Fundacion Pachamama NGO

In 2014 NACLA and Upside Down World supported the campaign in defense of Fundacion Pachamama, a US funded NGO in Ecuador. This NGO, involved in opposing oil drilling in the Yasuni National Park, had been shut down by the Ecuador government.

In the Yasuni, the Correa government proposed opening a mere 200 hectares (the actual size to be affected contested by some) to oil drilling, within the million-hectare park. In comparison, Canada’s tar sands mining/strip-mining will destroy 300,000 hectares of the Canadian Boreal Forest, 1500 times the size of the land to be affected in the Yasuni. Canada is now the world’s leading country in deforestation.

President Correa offered to refrain from exploiting the oil reserves within the Yasuni in exchange for 50% of the value of the reserves, or $3.6 billion. During the six-year history of the initiative, only $336 million had been pledged, and of that only $13.3 million had actually been delivered.

Cory Morningstar notes, “The fact of the matter is, if NGOs had campaigned for Yasuni …rather than working behind the scenes with corporate interests and leading greenhouse gas emitting  states … perhaps our situation today would be far different. But of course, this is not why the non-profit industrial complex exists.”[17]

USAID shut down its offices in Ecuador in 2014, a year after it was expelled from Bolivia. Even mainstream newspapers gave a more or less factual account:

“Correa in June [2013] was granted wide-ranging powers to intervene in the operations of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which often receive funding from USAID. The decree also created a screening process for international groups wanting to work in the country.

 

In early December [2013] the government shut down environmental NGO Fundación Pachamama after it was alleged that the group disrupted public peace while protesting oil drilling in the Amazon region. Pachamama was receiving funding from USAID.”[18]

Nevertheless, despite what is a question of Ecuador asserting its national sovereignty against foreign interference, an international campaign against Correa was organized in response.[19] Of this Cory Morningstar wrote “It is essential to note that none of the NGOs (over 100 at this point) participating in the Pachamama “solidarity” campaign disclose the fact that the Pachamama Foundation is financed by US interests.”

Signers of the international petition addressed to Correa by defenders of this USAID funded Foundation included Ecuador’s Accion Ecologica and CEDENMA. In the US it included 350.org, Amazon Watch, Citizens Climate Lobby, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Friends of the Earth US, Global Exchange, Move to Amend Coalition, Oakland Institute, Pachamama Foundation, Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace International, International Funders for Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Environmental Network, New Energy Economy, Womenrise for Global Peace.

We find environmental NGOs operating in the US in a similar manner. For instance, the Huffington Post reported in 2014 that the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund, Environmental Defense Action Fund, and the League of Conservation Voters actually donated tens of thousands of dollars to pro-Keystone XL pipeline politicians. It also became known that Sierra Club secretly took $25 million from the fracking industry.[20]

Who Funded Fundacion Pachamana?

Morningstar explains: “Fundación Pachamama was set up in 1997 as the Pachamama Alliance (founded in 1995) “sister organization,” situated in Ecuador. The Pachamama Alliance is a heavily funded U.S. NGO. Past donors include the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Revenue has increased from U.S. $1,911,036.00 in 2006 to U.S. $3,461,600.00 in 2011 (2011 form 990) with over $1 million focused exclusively on both Ecuador and Bolivia (grantmaking $706,626.00 / program services $391,622.00) in 2011.”

Pachamama was not just a US financed NGO, but served as a business:

“The Pachamama Alliance was created as a partnership with the Achuar to help organize and support a new multi-million dollar tourism development for which Indigenous Peoples needed to be trained in western commerce, the service industry, the English language and marketing. In essence, the Achuar were to be carefully integrated with the modern world.

 

The exclusive tourism development was to be located in pristine Indigenous territory in Ecuador. The Pachamama Foundation is also a partner of USAID-WCS (U.S. Agency for International Development – Wildlife Conservation Society) whose interests lie in “the growing markets and opportunities derived from environmental services including the REDD initiative (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries)…” (2009).”[21]

 

“Robin Fink is the Program Director at Fundación Pachamama (since November 2009) and Board Member at the Runa Foundation (Fundación Runa) (May 2012 to present). [22] In her role at Pachamama Alliance, Fink works closely with the Indigenous Achuar of the Ecuadorian Amazon. The associated Runa Corporation president [Tyler Gage] said “… we also receive about $500,000 from USAID, from the US government, the Andean Development bank, the German government, a couple other NGOs who were very impressed by our model.”  [23]

Wain Collen, Education Director of Fundación Pachamama, explained the function of these Western NGOs: ‘NGOs who aim to help indigenous communities most often end up causing more problems than they solve, ‘Our advisors and industry experts continue to remind us that above all, we need to run a successful business, regardless of how social it is. Without a strong, successful business we can’t generate any benefits for anyone.”[24]

“The Pachamama Alliance was created as a partnership with the Achuar to help organize and support a new multi-million dollar tourism development for which Indigenous Peoples needed to be trained in western commerce, the service industry, the English language and marketing. In essence, the Achuar were to be carefully integrated with the modern world.”[25]

This US funding of Fundacion Pachamana was concealed in the campaign protesting Correa’s shutting it down. NACLA and Upside Down World were participants, and one writer, Marc Becker, referred to the Fundacion as a “fair trade group.” NACLA still refers to Fundacion Pachamama as an “environmental and human rights organization.”[26] This was a deliberate misrepresentation to their US audience, and serves the interests of those seeking to smear Correa and turn sentiment against the Citizens Revolution.

The USAID-environmental NGO connection in Ecuador was known years before the failed 2010 coup against Correa. An institutional, academic research study, entitled Globalization, Philanthropy and Civil Society: Protecting Institutional Logics Abroad  had pointed out USAID and US corporate NGO funding of these Ecuadoran NGOs – before any actions had been taken against them by the Ecuadoran government:

“Nature Conservancy’s Amazon Program, both based in Brazil; or CDES (the Centro para Desarrollo Economico y Social) and Fundacion Pachamama, both Ecuadorian-based partner organizations of U.S. NGOs…. They collaborate on a regular basis with U.S. organizations, however, and remain dependent on funding from Northern sources- from the World Bank or Global Environment Facility, from US foundations, from USAID, or from their American mother/partner NGO. US NGOs have also influenced the development of new organizations in the Amazon region by influencing the agenda of USAID and large foundations such as the Ford and Moore foundations, which have become some of the most important sources of financing for new NGOs and grassroots organizations in the Amazon.”[27]

Given the propaganda campaign directed at Presidents Rafael Correa and Evo Morales by US funded environmental NGOs and some indigenous groupings, it is necessary to note, as Alvaro Linera did in his article on TIPNIS that these NGOs operating in these countries are not non-governmental organizations, but foreign government organizations, and that any government defending its national sovereignty needs to control them, or face the consequences of further coup-plotting.

 Accion Ecologica

Correa also shut down – temporarily– the US funded anti-Correa “environmental” NGO, Accion Ecologica. Even journalist Naomi Klein joined this other anti-Correa campaign, calling the government’s decision to shut it down as “something all too familiar: a state seemingly using its power to weaken dissent.”[28]

Painting the  Summer 2015 Rightwing anti-Correa protests as Progressive, and the case of Manuela Picq

The Accion Ecologica website, like Amazon Watch and NACLA, presented a deliberately distorted account of the violent right-wing protests in Ecuador in the summer of 2015, falsely blaming violence on the government.[29]

NACLA and Upside Down World ran articles by Manuela Picq, the anti-Correa foreign journalist kicked out of the country. NACLA’s front page had links to a Change.org petition about Manuela Lavinas Picq[30], the professor alleged to be beaten up and arrested by Ecuadoran police during the August 13 Quito protests.

The petition said:

“We the undersigned demand that Manuela Lavinas Picq’s order for deportation from Ecuador be rescinded immediately. Manuela Lavinas Picq was beaten and arrested in Quito on Thursday, August 13.  Manuela was participating in a legal, peaceful protest as a journalist.  At the time of her arrest, she was in the company of other journalists and photographers and was unarmed.”[31]

Signers included Amazon Watch.

Manuela Picq was a foreign journalist, married to a leader of the protests, Carlos Pérez, president of Ecuarunari, organization of Lourdes Tiban, and was herself a participant in the protests. These were not peaceful protests, but violently attacked the police in attempts to break through police lines to take over the presidential palace. Picq herself actually denied she was mistreated by the police.[32]

The August protests were deliberately misrepresented in Upside Down World and similar left-liberal websites as being progressive protests by indigenous groups.[33] In fact, they were violent protests in alliance with the Ecuadoran right-wing, part of fight against the proposed increase in inheritance tax on the rich. Concealed was the fact that CONAIE leaders supported the June 2015 right wing protests against Correa’s proposed inheritance tax on the rich.

In an interview published on June 17, 2015 in the context of a right wing uprising against the inheritance taxes, CONAIE’s president falsely claimed “this inheritance law affects the majority of the Ecuadoran population, it is not true that it is directed only at two percent of the population.” [34] CONAIE also opposed the law nationalizing water, seeking to leave in place the 1990s law privatizing water.[35]

Amazon Watch’s falsifications of the August 2015 protests surpassed what could be expected on the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page with an article subtitled “While police massacre indigenous protesters and citizens, the Government of Rafael Correa dances in the Presidential plaza”:

“The discourse it promoted for eight years at national and international levels, which favored its image as a socialist government and defender of rights for indigenous peoples and Mother Nature, has proven to be a sham.”

 

”All of the rights won by the indigenous nationalities have been repealed, just as the system of bilingual intercultural education, indigenous health services, economic funds, and political organization.”

 

”During the March for Peoples Dignity on August 13, 2015, the Government prepared an impressive display of security forces, police, and military. Violent confrontations with citizens ensued and resulted in numerous people disappeared, imprisoned, tortured, and dead across the country.”[36]

This outright fabrication is belied by the actual reporter film of the events.[37]

 The Issue of  Extractivism in Ecuador and Bolivia

Correa’s Ecuador and Evo’s Bolivia are both widely criticized by Western environmental and indigenous supporting groups for practicing “extractivism,” the reliance on exporting natural resources (oil, gas, mining) as a tool for development. We may search far and wide for a similar stream of criticisms of “extractivism” taking place in pro-imperialist governments of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Nigeria, Indonesia, Mexico, the Congo, or even Alberta. In these latter countries, the wealth from the natural resources ends up as corporate profits or in Western banks. In contrast, Ecuador and Bolivia have nationalized their national resources, and reversed the percent of the profits that go to the state vs foreign corporations, from 10-15% before to 85-90% now, and use this wealth to fund programs benefitting the 99%.  Is this the real reason they have become targets for the evils of “extractivism”?

The very term “extractivism” conceals the real crime: imperialist countries’ raping of the resources of the  Third World and the destruction it inflicts on the environment and people living there. The 500 year Western pillaging of oppressed nations’ natural resources using semi-slave labor conditions lies obscured. The real issue, deliberately unclarified by the term “extractivism” is: Who controls the natural resources of oppressed nations — the imperial powers or these nations themselves? The fundamental class issue of the term “extractivism” is buried: who uses natural resources for whose interests, who benefits and who suffers.  The term “extractivism” ignores that Bolivia and Ecuador have taken control of their natural resources from imperialist corporations, and now use the wealth generated to improve the lives of their peoples not the bottom lines of Western corporations.

While Latin America has moved in an anti-imperialist, anti-neoliberal direction, and the ALBA countries have implemented social programs benefiting the historically disadvantaged, particularly the indigenous, many previous US supporters of Latin America sovereignty have moved in a direction hostile to this process. National development is attacked as “extractivism,” as threatening the environment and the indigenous supposedly untouched by Western civilization. Representing historically oppressed and excluded peoples in the national government is painted as “co-opting social movements.” Chinese developmental aid to these countries, now increasingly boycotted by Western banks and corporations, is painted as “submitting to Chinese imperialism.”

Upside Down World and similar liberal-left media, for instance, claim that the indigenous of Ecuador are opposed to “extractivism.” However, during the August 2015 protests against Correa, one CONAIE group actually protested because government stopped a project because of its potential environmental damage:

“in the Southeastern province of Morona Santiago, a group of Indigenous Achuar people have protested for the third consecutive day in front of the governor’s building, responding to the call by the opposition-aligned indigenous confederation CONAIE. The Indigenous group’s main complaint regards the federal decision to suspend the environmental license, preventing the province from continuing the work on the Taisha road. Earlier in June, the Ministry of Environment imposed sanctions against the provincial government of Morona Santiago, revoking its environmental license and imposing a $70,800 fine over environmental damages caused during the Macuma-Taisha road project.” [38]

Do not expect this alternative media to inform us that these indigenous were protesting Correa because of the government’s opposition to building a road through an ecologically sensitive area.

Moreover, the previous CONAIE president, Humberto Cholango,  has said  “Many nationalities of the Amazonia say “look, we are the owners of the territory, and yes we want it to be exploited.”  These agree with Correa, and the majority of Ecuadorans, that to leave valuable natural resources untouched while people go without schools, roads,  medical care, employment, hurts their own interests. [39]

Readers of Upside Down World and NACLA will not read this, and are instead told the protests were against “extractivism” and for Original Peoples’ language rights. (The Ecuador government actually recognizes fourteen separate Original People languages).

In Ecuador: New left or new colonialism? Fred Fuentes writes:

“No government, even one that comes to power on the back of an insurrection and that destroys the capitalist state, would be able to meet the needs of the Ecuadorian people while at the same time halting all extractive industries. However, it can attempt to strike a balance between protecting the environment and industrializing the country, providing free education and health care for all, empowering the people to take power into their own hands. The difficulty of such a task means mistakes will be made, but also learnt from.

 

To overcome Ecuador’s legacy of dependency on extractive industries, rich imperialist nations will need to repay their historic debts to Ecuador’s people. The lack of any willingness to do so has been shown by the response from foreign governments to the bold Yasuni Initiative launched by the Correa government in 2007….

 

Until rich countries are held to account for the crimes they have committed against oppressed Third World nations no opponent of imperialism can legitimately denounce the Ecuador or Bolivia government for using wealth from its natural resources to meet peoples’ needs.

 

Environmental concerns are valid, but so are the very real needs of people to be able to access basic services that many of us take for granted. And we should never forget who the real culprits of the environmental crisis are.

 

Rather than diverting attention from these Western powers and onto anti-imperialist Latin American governments, we should focus on the real enemies we and the peoples of the oppressed nations face in common. Their fate is intertwined with our fight at home against Western governments and their corporate bosses.” [40]

Fuentes writes elsewhere:

“Our task is to oppose imperialist [interference], but “The challenges Bolivia… they are a direct result of centuries of colonialism and imperialist oppression, which have entrenched Bolivia in its role within the world economy as a dependent raw commodity exporter. Any chance Bolivia has of moving in a post-capitalist and post-extractivist direction depends on the creation of a new global order, starting with the reshaping of hemispheric relations. This is precisely what the Bolivian government has attempted to do….the main way we can help Bolivia’s social movements is still by winning over working people in the North to a position of solidarity with Bolivia. And the best way to do this is… to build an international movement against the imperialist system…[We must focus on] explaining why, as long as imperialism exists, Bolivia’s process of change will undoubtedly continue to face tremendous obstacles and dangers…. ‘only a popular uprising of unprecedented scale will prompt nations of the Global North to take their responsibility to the rest of the globe seriously, and constrain the coercive forces that constrain states like Bolivia.’”[41]

Conclusion

We expect the corporate media to conceal the impact of Western pillaging on the oppressed Third World countries, and to participate in the West’s on-going efforts to return pro-Western neoliberal governments.  However, for liberal-left media and organizations to take a similar stand, even if watered down, is nothing other than apologetics for imperialist interference. Not to emphasize imperialism’s historic and continuing exploitive role is not simply dishonest, not simply apologetics, but also shows a basic lack of human feeling and solidarity with the peoples of the Third World.

Any serious analysis, whether progressive or not, of an Third World country must start with the role Western imperialism has played. If not, the analysis does not clarify the causes of the problems their people face, but indirectly gives cover to the criminal impact of imperialism against the country.

Too many articles are written on the events in Ecuador and Bolivia in the alternative media as if US imperialism is not an important player. These alternative media sources actually advocate for indigenous groups and environmental NGOs which are USAID and US corporate financed. And they criticize these countries for defending their national sovereignty by shutting down what Bolivian Vice-President Linera called “foreign government financed organization NGOs” operating in their countries.

The stated USAID budget for Latin America is said to be $750 million, but estimates show that the secret part of the funding, partly in the hands of the CIA, may total twice that.[42] This information, and how this money is spent, ought to be a focus of any liberal-left alternative media purporting to stand up for the oppressed peoples of the Americas.

In June 2012, unlike NACLA, et al, the foreign ministers of the ALBA countries were quite clear on the devious work of USAID in their homelands in their June 2012 resolution:

“Citing foreign aid planning and coordination as a pretext, USAID openly meddles in sovereign countries’ domestic affairs, sponsoring NGOs and protest activities intended to destabilize legitimate governments which are unfavorable from Washington’s perspective. Documents released from the US Department of State archives carry evidence that financial support had been provided to parties and groups oppositional to the governments of ALBA countries, a practice tantamount to undisguised and audacious interference on the US behalf. In most ALBA countries, USAID operates via its extensive NGO networks, which it runs outside of the due legal framework, and also illicitly funds media and political groups. We are convinced that our countries have no need for external financial support to maintain the democracy established by Latin American and Caribbean nations, or for externally guided organizations which try to weaken or sideline our government institutions.” [43]

We find some liberal-left alternative media knowingly or unknowingly giving legitimacy to US soft coup plotting,  painting US collaborators in Bolivia and Ecuador as defenders of free expression, defenders of nature, defenders of the indigenous. The US government’s “talking points” on the leaders of the progressive ALBA bloc have worked their way into liberal-left alternative media, which echo the attacks on these governments by the organizations that have received US funds.[44]  That is not to say that Amazon Watch or Upside Down World or NACLA are themselves funded by the US government – if it somehow exculpates them that they do this work for free. Even worse, much of this propaganda against Evo and Correa appears only in the liberal-left alternative press, what we consider our press. Many of the people who were our allies, or allies on many other issues today, are on the other side of the fence.

As Cory Morningstar wrote:

“In retrospect, most anyone can and will easily condemn the colonizing of natives by missionaries in the 18th and 19th centuries. Yet, today, with NGOs having fulfilled this role to continue the practice into the 20th and 21st centuries – we collectively refuse to acknowledge it. We ignore it. We even defend it. The white paternalism continues with the blessing of the liberal left. ‘Maybe they are good!’ the liberal left cries. ‘Maybe the Indigenous communities like them!’ We can observe the photos of missionaries and their ‘subjects’ in the past. There appears to be no resistance. Yet, we still comprehend that this was wrong.”

But not only do liberal-left alternative media and NGOs let themselves become conveyer belts for US regime change propaganda. It also illustrates what many who consider themselves on the left still have not come to terms with:  their own arrogant traditionally white attitude that they share with Western colonizers and present day ruling elites: we know better than you what is good for you, we are the best interpreters and defenders of  your democracy and human rights. That is why they criticize Third World governments that are progressive or independent of US control – targets for US regime change and color revolution. In contrast, genuine support for the peoples of the Third World means basing yourself in opposition to imperialism and exposing US attempts to overthrow governments and undermine movements seeking to break free from the Western domination.

 

[1] Green Left Weekly series on Correa and WikiLeaks:  https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/57531

[2] http://inthesetimes.com/uprising/entry/14202/indigenous_movements_clash_with_latin_americas_left_turn/

More liberal-left alternative media articles attacking Ecuador:

Amazon’s Female Defenders Denounce ‘Macho’ Repression and Demand Rights

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/10/19/amazons-female-defenders-denounce-macho-repression-and-demand-rights

Ecuador Moves to Close Leading Environmental Organization as Part of Crackdown on Civil Society

https://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2016/12/21/ecuador-moves-close-leading-environmental-organization-part-crackdown-civil

Ecuador’s social movements push back against Correa’s neoliberalism

https://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/ecuadors-social-movements-push-back-against-correas-neoliberalism/

How protests forced Ecuador’s upcoming runoff presidential election

https://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/ecuador-protests-forced-runoff-elections/

People vs. Big Oil: A Mosaic of Oil and Attack Dogs

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/38240-people-vs-big-oil-part-ii-a-mosaic-of-oil-and-attack-dogs

New Witch Hunt in Ecuador Against Indigenous and Environment Defenders

http://www.alternet.org/environment/new-witch-hunt-ecuador-against-indigenous-and-environment-defenders

“Beyond the Petrostate: Ecuador’s Left Dilemma,” the author raises some other issue against Correa. https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/riofrancos-beyond-petrostate-ecuador-left-dilemma           Christian Tym answers this very well in reply to Guardian smears on Correa. http://www.importantcool.com/murder-amazon-guardians-quest-correa/

Deep in the Amazon a Tiny Tribe is Beating Big Oil

http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/312-16/28648-deep-in-the-amazon-a-tiny-tribe-is-beating-big-oil

http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/together-with-earth/deep-in-the-amazon-a-tiny-tribe-is-beating-big-oil

http://www.coha.org/corrupted-idealism-bolivias-compromise-between-development-and-the-environment/

(which, for instance, pushes the story  of  “the unanimous rejection by indigenous communities of a highway constructed through TIPNIS”)

Ecuador To Sell One Third Of Pristine Rainforest To Chinese Oil Companies http://www.mintpressnews.com/213663-2/213663/

[3] https://nacla.org/blog/2012/7/2/bolivia-tipnis-marchers-reach-la-paz-following-police-strike-and-coup-allegations

[4] https://nacla.org/blog/2011/8/26/bolivia-tipnis-marchers-face-accusations-and-negotiations

[5] http://upsidedownworld.org/main/international-archives-60/4816-the-politics-of-pachamama-natural-resource-extraction-vs-indigenous-rights-and-the-environment-in-latin-america  

[6] http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2012/09/26/end-to-usaid-spying-looms-in-latin-america.html

https://globalintelnews.wordpress.com/author/globalintelnews/page/8/

[7] http://boliviarising.blogspot.com/2011/09/bolivia-ngos-wrong-on-morales-and.html

[8] For instance:

“The Democracy CentreAvaaz 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.”

https://thewrongkindofgreen.wordpress.com/2011/11/23/u-s-funded-democracy-centre-reveals-its-real-reason-for-supporting-the-tipnis-protest-in-bolivia-redd/

[9]  http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2011/09/29/about-u-s-amazon-watch-take-action-help-stop-police-repression-in-bolivia-2/

[10]  http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Amazon_Watch

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2011/09/29/about-u-s-amazon-watch-take-action-help-stop-police-repression-in-bolivia-2/

[11]  http://www.la-razon.com/nacional/Pedro-Nuni-lideres-regionales-proyecto_0_1946805357.html

[12]  http://upsidedownworld.org/main/ecuador-archives-49/2717-conaie-on-the-attempted-coup-in-ecuador

[13] https://machetera.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/quitos-police-cia-breeding-ground/

http://www.rebelion.org/noticias/2010/10/114032.pdf

[14] http://machetera.wordpress.com/2010/10/01/behind-the-coup-in-ecuador/

[15] Eva Golinger: “CONAIE blamed Correa for the coup, saying he was responsible for the crisis. By doing that while the coup is in action, it justifies it.” http://www.chavezcode.com/2010/10/evidence-of-ned-fundingaid-to-groups-in.html

[16]  http://www.cubadebate.cu/opinion/2010/10/04/veterano-de-la-cia-detras-del-golpe-en-ecuador/#.VjECqLerTIV

USAID is Behind the Ecuadorian Organizations Seeking to Destabilize the Government Coup in Ecuador – by Eva Golinger

http://www.contrainjerencia.com/?p=20735 states:

Eva Golinger, U.S. writer and researcher, told the state news agency Andes, that many Ecuadorian organizations, some linked to the indigenous movement and directed by National Assembly member Lourdes Tibán, receive financial funding from the State Department the United States, through USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and NED (National Endowment for Democracy) to destabilize the government of President Rafael Correa.

Speaking to Andes, Golinger reiterated that the Assemblyperson Lourdes Tibán, of the left Pachakutik Party (political wing of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities, CONAIE) is part of Indigenous Enterprise Corporation, an organization that “actively” receives funding from USAID.
The group, of which is Tibán a founder, is  advised by a veteran of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Norman Bailey, who two years ago was head of a special intelligence mission of the U.S. government Cuba and Venezuela, said Golinger. Another group funded by USAID is “Citizen Participation,” said the researcher, who studies U.S. interference in the countries of the region.
When asked by journalist whether she repeats the accusation against Assembly person Tibán, Golinger said she found evidence that the Assemblyperson is funded by USAID.

“I found what are proofs of it. I do not know if she denies it, but it is impossible to for her to deny it when there is evidence ¨ Golinger said.

As evidence, the writer and researcher said that ¨ Tibán belongs to an organization that has received funding from U.S. agencies such as the NED, as well as the USAID, a financial arm of the Department of State. If I remember correctly, she belongs to one of these groups which has on its board a veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency, Norman Baily. He is a longtime member of the U.S. intelligence community, and is an advisor to this organization belongs (Indigenous Enterprise Corporation), of which Tiban is founder.¨

“Beyond that I do not know Tibán receives funds personally, but she does belong to an organization that receive funding from U.S. government agencies.¨

Golinger insisted that the resources Tiban receives from the State Department of the United States she uses to destabilize democracy.

“Veterano de la CIA, detrás del Golpe en Ecuador”, por Eva Golinger

http://mercosulcplp.blogspot.com/2010/10/veterano-de-la-cia-detras-del-golpe-en.html

https://machetera.wordpress.com/2010/10/01/behind-the-coup-in-ecuador/

see also Golinger and Oscar Heck in http://www.chavezcode.com/2010/10/evidence-of-ned-fundingaid-to-groups-in.html     

Violence, disinformation, outright lies and anti-government propaganda

http://www.vheadline.com/readnews.asp?id=84531

VHeadline writer Oscar Heck tells us:

In recent days, in Ecuador, there has been an indigenous movement against the Ecuadorian government’s National Assembly reading/review of Ecuador’s new Water Laws, which, as far as I know, under their constitution, obliges the Ecuadorian government to be the sole custodian of water resources.

This issue seems to be clearly understood by most Ecuadorians … yet a small group of Natives from near the Cayambe region, close to Quito, has started demonstrations (some violent or violence-provoking) accusing the Ecuadorian government of trying to “privatize” the water and seeking to pass laws to not allow local water commissions any say in the use and distribution of water resources.

The protests are organized by an indigenous group called the Confederation Of Indigenous Nationalities Of Ecuador (CONAIE). The assumptions propagated by the likes of CONAIE, that the government will privatize the water resources and/or no allow local water commissions, are completely false according to Rafael Correa.

It is as if something or someone somewhere in that region is implanting lies into the minds of the locals … just like the NED-financed Venezuelan organizations (CTV, Fedecamaras, Primero Justicia, Sumate, CEDICE, etc.) are paid by the US government to lie to the public and manipulate information in order to create unrest … and subsequent violence … to then blame or vilify local government.

So, what is CONAIE?

CONAIE was formed out of the union of two already existing organizations, ECUARUNARI and CONFENIAIE.  ECUARUNARI, the regional organization of the Sierra that has been functioning for over 20 years, and the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon(CONFENIAE), formed in 1980, created that same year the National Coordinating Council of the Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, CONACNIE.”

Now, since I highly suspect that CONAIE is financed, influenced, controlled or infiltrated in some fashion by the US government, I decided to go through the NED’s website.  I found the following (and more):

Grantor: NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY (NED)

Grantee: Corporación Instituto Empresarial Indígena del Ecuador (Indigenous Enterprise Institute of Ecuador) (IEIE)

Country(ies): Ecuador

Region: Latin America and the Caribbean

Subject(s): Business and Economics

Grant Awarded: 2006

Amount: 67,955

Grantor: NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY (NED)

Grantee: Fundación Q’ellkaj (Q’ellkaj Foundation)

Country(ies): Ecuador

Region: Latin America and the Caribbean

Subject(s): Youth

Grant Awarded: 2006

Amount: 91,256

So what is the, Corporación Instituto Empresarial Indígena del Ecuador?

And what is Fundación Q’ellkaj (Q’ellkaj Foundation)?

I decided to look into it and found more than I expected.  I went to the website of Corporación Instituto Empresarial Indígena del Ecuador, which is actually Corporación Empresarial Indígena del Ecuador … or CEIE … a not-for-profit organization founded in 2005 by Ángel Medina, Mariano Curicama, Lourdes Tibán, Fernando Navarro, and Raúl Gangotena.  Their website also states that Norman Bailey is one of their honorary members.

And who are the other characters involved in the CEIE? According to their website, I quote excerpts in Spanish:

ANGEL MEDINA“ … fundador y presidente de la Fundación Q´ellkaj …”

FERNANDO NAVARRO “ … Presidente de la Federación de Cámaras de Comercio del Ecuador…”

RAUL GANGOTENA  “… Tiene relación con los siguientes organismos internacionales: Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow, International Forum for Democratic Studies, National Endowment for Democracy … Embajador del Ecuador en los Estados Unidos … Actuó como consejero para la Subsecreataría de Defensa en 2001 …”

LOURDES TIBAN “… Asesora del Consejo Político de la ECUARUNARI … la Declaración de los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas en Washington DC …”

Below are the connections I can find between the information found on the NED and CIEI websites and CONAIE (who are the ones organizing the anti-government protests are in Ecuador):

-Lourdes Tiban, who is one of the co-founders of CIEI worked with ECUARUNARI, which was one of the founding organizations of CONAIE.

-Both CIEI and Q´ellkaj receive NED financing. Angel Medina is/was founder and president of Q´ellkaj and co-founder of CIEI … and he works with Lourdes Tiban, who was involved with ECUARUNARI, a member organization of CONAIE.

-Raul Gangotena, another co-founder of NED-financed CIEI, has/had direct links with the NED and works with Lourdes Tiban, who has/had links to ECUARUNARI, which has/had links to CONAIE.

-Fernando Navarro, another co-founder of CIEI, was president of the Ecuadorian federation of chambers of commerce. The Federación de Cámaras de Comercio del Ecuador is the equivalent to the NED-financed Fedecamaras in Venezuela, one of the organizations which headed up the violent coup against democratically-elected Chavez in 2002 and the subsequent violent economic sabotage of the country in 2002 and 2003. Since he was probably a highly influential person, then he probably still is a highly influential person.  Since he works/worked with Lourdes Tiban, and since Lourdes has/had links to ECUARUNARI (indirectly CONAIE), then he may have influence over CONAIE.

At least one person at another Ecuadorian NED-financed indigenous organization (CIEI), has or has had links with CONAIE.  CIEI was coincidentally created in 2005, not long before Rafael Correa was elected president of Ecuador. Norman Bailey, who was present at the White House when the NED was created, is a member of CIEI.

Oscar Heck

oscar.heck@vheadline.com

http://www.vheadline.com/heck

Marlon Santi

PRESIDENT, CONAIE

Delfín Tenesaca

PRESIDENT, ECUARUNARI

Tito Puanchir

PRESIDENT, CONFENIAE

Olindo Nastacuaz

PRESIDENT, CONAICE

From Eva: “Organizations in Ecuador such as Participación Ciudadana and Pro-Justicia [Citizen Participation and Pro-Justice], as well as members and sectors of CODENPE, Pachakutik,CONAIE, the Corporación Empresarial Indígena del Ecuador [Indigenous Enterprise Corporation of Ecuador] and Fundación Qellkaj [Qellkaj Foundation] have had USAID and NED funds at their disposal.”

[17] http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2015/05/16/fundacion-pachamama-is-dead-long-live-alba-part-ii/

[18] http://www.minnpost.com/christian-science-monitor/2013/12/odds-ecuador-usaid-moves-leave (Interestingly, the newspaper the next day made a retraction that Pachamana was currently receiving USAID money).

[19] http://www.pachamama.org/news/we-stand-in-solidarity-with-fundacion-pachamama-in-ecuador    Amnesty International organized a similar campaign.

[20] https://orionmagazine.org/2012/03/breaking-up-with-the-sierra-club/

[21] https://intercontinentalcry.org/fundacion-pachamama-dead-long-live-alba-part-investigative-report/  (part 1)

[22]“Other foundation advisors include:  include Yolanda Kakabadse, president of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) since 2010, Trustee of the Ford Foundation, President of International Union for Conservation of Nature (1996-2004); Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF (2005-2010, US Secretary of Agriculture (2001-2005), named 46th most powerful woman by Forbes in 2009; Doug Hattaway, president of Hattaway Communication since 2001, Senior Communications Adviser for Hilary Clinton (2008); Michael Conroy, Board Chair of Forest Stewardship Council since 2010, Board Chair of Fair Trade USA (2003-2010; Jacob Olander, Director of Forest Trends’ Incubator since 2008, Co-founder of EcoDecisión since 1995, Expert in conservation finance and payments for ecosystem services; Florencia Montagnini, professor of Tropical Forestry at Yale University since 2001, research advisor to the Smithsonian Institute’s PRORENA program since 2001, expert in tropical forestry and agroforesty systems.

Runa foundation advisor Yolanda Kakabadse, of WWF, just happens to also be a member of the Environmental Advisory Board of CocaCola.” (ibid.)

[23] (part 4)

[24] (part 7)

[25] Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA | Part I of an Investigative Report

[26] https://nacla.org/news/2015/11/02/criminals-or-citizens-mining-and-citizen-protest-correa%E2%80%99s-ecuador

[27] Sandra Moog: “Exporting Institutionality” in Globalization, Philanthropy and Civil Society: Protecting Institutional Logics Abroad (2009)  p. 279

[28]  Quoted in Paul Dosh and Nicole Kligerman, “Correa vs. Social Movements: Showdown in Ecuador,” NACLA Report on the Americas, (September 17, 2009), https://nacla.org/node/6124;

Naomi Klein, “Open Letter to President Rafael Correa Regarding Closure of Acción Ecológica,” March 12, 2009

[29] see http://www.accionecologica.org/component/content/article/1868-carta-a-la-comunidad- -ecuatoriana-en-relacion-al-levantamiento-y-la-represion-generada-

[30] Her Facebook page has posts supporting all the pro-business elite protests against Correa and his proposal to raise taxes on the rich.

[31] https://www.change.org/p/rafael-correa-stop-the-deportation-of-manuela-picq

[32] http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Foreign-Academic-Detained-in-Ecuador-Riot-Faces-Deportation-20150816-0010.html

[33]  http://upsidedownworld.org/main/ecuador-archives-49/5422-ecuadors-new-indigenous-uprising

[34] http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=201393

[35] http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2015/06/23/fundacion-pachamama-is-dead-long-live-alba-part-iii/

[36] http://amazonwatch.org/news/2015/0819-ecuadorian-government-violates-human-rights-and-the-constitution

[37] http://www.elciudadano.gob.ec/la-violencia-extrema-predomino-en-manifestaciones-del-13-de-agosto/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+elciudadanogobec+%28ElCiudadano.gob.ec+-+Sistema+Oficial+de+Informaci%C3%B3n%29

Also Federico Fuentes:  https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/59776

[38] “http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Ecuador-Opposition-Unions-Call-for-National-Strike–20150819-0033.html”

[39] https://lalineadefuego.info/2014/04/11/entrevista-a-humberto-cholango-dios-la-naturaleza-y-las-fuerzas-de-los-espiritus-de-los-lideres-van-a-proteger-para-que-la-conaie-no-caiga-en-manos-de-la-derecha/

[40] https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/51353

[41] Fred Fuentes, “Bad Left Government” versus “Good Left Social Movements”? in Latin America’s Radical Left” pp. 120-121

[42] see “USAID Spying in Latin America”  http://www.globalresearch.ca/usaid-spying-in-latin-america/5306679

[43] http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/7069

[44] https://nacla.org/blog/2013/12/31/close-ngos-asserting-sovereignty-or-eroding-democracy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

BolivianIndigenousLeader

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.

‘Extractivism’

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.

Government of Bolivia Denounces Illegal Trade of Flora and Fauna by NGOs

March 18, 2013

tipnis-mapa

 

The Government Minister Carlos Romero revealed that TIPNIS has become an object of predation illegal activities.

Recently some indigenous leaders pledged 200,000 hectares of forest and subscribed marketing contracts of 1,500 trees and wildlife utilization contracts with NGOs : Earth Rights International, Due Process of Law Foundation and To build Foundation, Amazon Legal Network.

As for the preliminary point of the consultation conducted in the TIPNIS, Minister Romero said that this process is subject to the minimum standards and requirements of the Commission.

Then he clarified that the consultation was made to magistrates of indigenous peoples and was applied in 58 of 69 communities in 11 months. It was 5 months for the consensus procedure and six for the query itself with full respect for the natural organic institutions.

On the alleged violation of the law of intangibility, Romero recalled that the realization of another indigenous march that rejected that condition forced the Bolivian government to conduct prior consultation, as it showed that demand for approval of such standard was not the product of the consensus of the TIPNIS communities.

The Indigenous Territory and National Park Isiboro-Secure (TIPNIS) is a protected area of Bolivia, created as a National Park by Decree 7401 on November 22, 1965 and declared Indian Territory on September 24, 1990, thanks to the claiming struggles of indigenous peoples of the region.

It has approximately 1,236,296 ha (12,363 km ²). It is located between the province of Beni (Moxos province) and Cochabamba (Chapare province).

It has 402 species of flora and estimated that there are 3,000 species of superior plants, in addition to 714 species of wildlife.

Source | www.opinion.com.bo

 

[TIPNIS] Alvaro Garcia Linera: Geopolitics of the Amazon – Part V (Final)

[TIPNIS] Alvaro Garcia Linera: Geopolitics of the Amazon – Part V (Final)

[To see the Table of Contents, click here. A glossary of terms and acronyms appearing in the text will be found here. Translation by Richard Fidler, Life on the Left]

On so-called “extractivism”

Since Marx, we know that what characterizes and differentiates societies is the way in which they organize the production, distribution and use of the material and symbolic resources they possess. In other words, the mode of production[1] is what defines the material content of the social life of the distinct human territorial collectivities (nations, peoples, communities), within which there can be differentiated the historically specific form in which each of their components develop, and the manner in which various existing modes of production interrelate within the same society.

[TIPNIS] Alvaro Garcia Linera: Geopolitics of the Amazon – Part IV

[TIPNIS] Alvaro Garcia Linera: Geopolitics of the Amazon – Part IV

[To see the Table of Contents, click here. A glossary of terms and acronyms appearing in the text will be found here. Translated by Richard Fidler, Life on the Left]

Three colonialist fallacies of opponents of the proposed TIPNIS roadway

The first fallacy is the argument that with the highway the coca leaf producers will invade the TIPNIS. There is at this point no type of coercive measure that prevents them entering the Park using the roads that already exist within it; however, they are not doing so. Moreover, the unions of coca producers were the very ones that in 1990 defined with the government a “red line” within the TIPNIS that they voluntarily agreed not to cross. Since then, any compañero who crosses that line, instead of counting on the support of his union and federation, is liable to be removed from where he is living by the law enforcement agencies, as has happened in recent months. Compliance with this demarcation is now the responsibility of the coca leaf producers themselves, and not the result of any public force or law that prevents them from approaching.

[TIPNIS] Alvaro Garcia Linera: Geopolitics of the Amazon – Part III

[To see the Table of Contents, click here. A glossary of terms and acronyms appearing in the text will be found here.Translation by Richard Fidler, Life on the Left]

The historic demand for construction of a road to unite the Amazon valleys and plains

But first let us analyze the history of the demand for construction of this highway that would have to pass through the TIPNIS. Is it true that it is part of a sinister plan for “inter-oceanic corridors that would pillage the forests and suck us into the vortex of the Brazilian empire,” as the recipe of some NGOs would have it?[1]

The historical need for a road connecting the Andean zone with the Amazon region, through what used to be called the “Mountains of the Yuracarees,” now the Isiboro-Sécure park, dates back more than 300 years.

[TIPNIS] Alvaro Garcia Linera: Geopolitics of the Amazon – Part II

[To see the Table of Contents, click here. A glossary of terms and acronyms appearing in the text will be found here. Translation by Richard Fidler, Life on the Left]

December 12, 2012

Capitalist Subsumption of the Amazon Indigenous Economy

Finally, in addition to the vertical nature of this despotic power there is a territorial dependency of the regional power structure itself. The major part of the Bolivian Amazon lies in the department of Beni, and the major productive activities in the region today are ranching, timber extraction and chestnut harvesting.

TIPNIS: Religion in Bolivian Politics

Bolivian Newspaper Cambio, July 4,2012

Juan Carlos Zambrana Marchetti

 

It’s not strange to find in history innumerable examples of peoples totally hypnotized by religious beliefs who attack other peoples, murdering and establishing bloody dictatorships, all in the name of God. Religious fundamentalism seems to be the most efficient mechanism to create armies of automatons out of human beings who would otherwise be rational individuals with full use of their free will. But the words “armies” and “automatons” are too harsh to be used openly in a method of mass control that is based on obedience, and religions prefer to use terms such as sheep, flocks, and pastors.

Religion, invented and manipulated by human beings, has become the perfect mechanism to deprive human beings of rationality, and to keep them from seeing, for example, scientific evidence of their origin and of that of the universe, in order to force them to blindly follow commandments, rites, and mysteries, all of them represented by powerful symbols capable of causing terror in the most valiant of mortals.

The Cross is, for Catholics, the most powerful of those symbols, because it represents an instrument of torture than no human being can resist. It is morbid because it represents not the resurrection of Jesus but his torture, his agony, and his slow death. Neither was it invented exclusively to execute Jesus, but rather it was the method in common use by the Romans of that era. To continue to utilize that symbol in the 21st Century is a purposeful decision to tie us to the atrocities of the past, a psychological torture perpetrated by the Catholic Church against all of us, its faithful. It is very harmful and should be illegal, as are all other psychological abuses, the more so as it is against humanity.

To understand how perverse and retrograde is the use of that symbol, one must understand that, if Jesus had died, for example, in what is now Chile, during the Spanish conquest, the symbol of the Catholic churches would be, instead of crucifixion, impalement: the use of a huge stake set into the ground, leaving a pointed end on which was made to sit, among others, the Mapuche leader Caupolicán, traversing him from end to end, then leaving him exposed to the public in order to create terror.

The merchants of religious symbols would have become millionaires had Jesus died during the Holy Inquisition, because its methods of torture and murder were innumerable. It is hair-raising today to simply see the photos of instruments such as the Judas Cradle, the Head Crusher, or the Vaginal Pear, the latter of which was introduced into men and women and forced open by a screw mechanism; but, to judge by the morbidity demonstrated by Catholics, the most popular was perhaps the Iron Maiden, the sarcophagus with iron spikes inside the cover, into which the priests forced live “infidels” and closed the door under pressure.

Had Jesus died in the Andes during the Spanish conquest, the symbol would be perhaps the garrote, the chair with a rope at the neck and a tourniquet behind it, with which indigenous people were strangled as the tourniquet was turned. Or perhaps they would adore the four horses with which they dismembered Tupac Katari, also in public so as to generate terror and obedience to the sign of the Cross.

I ask the reader’s pardon for having to mention such cruelty, but that is the historic truth of the meaning of the methods of execution that have been used by empires with the complicity of religion. The problem is complicated when conservative politicians, desperate over their loss of power and influence, turn to religion as the last resort to intimidate the indigenous peoples who were tortured and subjected by the sword and the Cross. Such was the terror that the conquistadors created among the indigenous peoples by means of the Cross as a symbol, that today it should be a crime against humanity to continue to use this ancient programming from which the Bolivian indigenous peoples have not been able to free themselves.

Around 2003, when the Cruzan oligarchy still defended Sanchez de Lozada, and a group of indigenous people from the highlands marched on Santa Cruz(Holy Cross), to peacefully protest. The sugar-cane industrialists were preparing for a confrontation when some “brilliant mind” remembered the trauma of the Spanish conquest. ”Don’t forget that the Indian fears the Cross,” he said, and they solved the problem very simply. They made a large Cross and set it in the middle of the road. As it was at night, and darkness is good for exacerbating mysteries, they placed two torches beside the Cross and painted in front of it a white line of lime across the road. As predicted, the western indigenous were so shocked that they did not dare cross into “the land of the Holy Cross.” The anecdote is remembered clearly by Cruzan politicians, and they apply it constantly, shamelessly abusing the generalized fear of God and the power of the Church.

When Governor Ruben Costas visited President Evo Morales at the Palace of Government and saw the famous photograph of Che Guevara at the entrance of the office, he decided to return the President’s gesture, and invited him to the Governor’s office to have him sit down and photograph him in front of an enormous portrait of Jesus. What Governor Costas forgot was that Che was an anti-imperialist political figure, and therefore the political identification of Morales with his ideology made sense. Apparently, the Bolivian Right is so devoid of economic or political arguments, that it gets its hands on even the old religious programming of the Catholics to manipulate the will of the people, whom it considers, apparently, little more than a flock of sheep.

The same thing happened during the IX March of the CIDOB, because there, too, the adverse circumstances of acceptance coincide. In this case, it has been found that its leaders no longer represent anyone, and that they have been disowned by nine out of twelve communities of the TIPNIS: some as traitors, for having made political agreements with the Right that historically has abused them, and others for doing business with timber industrialists, exporters of exotic hides, foreign adventure-travel agencies, and even with gambling casinos. Now, when they lack rational arguments with popular support, they need for the contrary of rationality to be imposed, something like faith, so that the people will follow them out of obedience. It’s then that the Catholic Church conveniently appears, introducing God into partisan politics and, among other things, blessing for the IX March the symbols of the Cross and the Virgin to be carried as banners, or, rather, as shields, that they might not be resisted along the way.

So it is that once again the Cross defends the political interests of imperialism, which tries to keep isolated all of those communities for the simple reason that indigenous people are by nature anti-imperialist. The skillful media maneuver of making political use of religious symbols worked for the IX March, because despite its obviously sham character, it was respected throughout the whole national territory. The Bolivian indigenous people still suffer from the mental conditioning implanted by the torture of the conquest, by the theft of their free and warrior-like identity, and by the aberrant acculturation that they underwent, to be inserted into a society that enslaved them and forced then to submit and obey by mandate of the Cross.

I believe that the ecclesiastic authorities have committed a historic crime against the Bolivian indigenous people; that they owe, at the least, a public apology for what happened in the past. But I also believe that, still today, they continue to commit a crime by using that traumatic programming in order to manipulate the will of the indigenous in favor of the international Right and the interests of looting, which means subjecting the indigenous anew to foreign interests contrary to their own.

Apart from whether God exists as the Bible says, or there is no evidence of it, or whether that existence is no longer necessary to explain life according to science, something that we can all agree upon is that religion as created by humans has been bloody, inhuman, and cruel. Its complicity with totalitarian regimes has been shameful and can no longer be tolerated. Religion, if it wishes to find its bearings to continue to exist in these times of the liberation of knowledge, must cease to corrupt itself with political interventions, limiting itself to spiritual matters, leaving “to Caesar what belongs to Caesar”

 

BOLIVIA | ¿Por qué se defiende el tipnis?

Uploaded June 28, 2012