Indigenist Oil Companies?

By Juan Carlos Zambrana Marchetti

January 18, 2012

The international Right has put on an indigenist costume, not only to draw nearer to its historical victim, but also to infiltrate indigenous organizations to the point of directing their movements.


The contribution of millions of dollars for the welfare of indigenous people is one of several manifestations that are taking place in Bolivia of a phenomenon that is catastrophic at the world level. It’s the materialization of the old nightmare of a world managed by corporations, in which governments lose the ability to make decisions within their territories, yielding to the global power of the transnational corporations.

It’s the world that David Rockefeller explained in 1999 in an article published in Newsweek: “…somebody has to take governments’ place, and business seems to me to be a logical entity to do it.” What would be most tragic in the case of Bolivia would be to forget that the Rockefeller empire has already made us suffer in our own flesh the lack of loyalty and compassion of the transnationals for the countries that they exploit.

The Rockefeller empire led Bolivia to famine when it instigated a war with Paraguay, only to later steal Bolivia’s oil and sell it to Paraguay, forcing Bolivia to import oil from Peru. Unbelievable as it may seem, Paraguay won the war with Bolivia using Bolivian fuel, and it was all “legal” because it was a matter of private business within a chain of enterprises belonging to Rockefeller. It may have been legal in the perverse sense of complying with imperfect laws, but it was morally unacceptable. From that hurt was born the patriotic sentiment for defending the people of Bolivia, and Standard Oil was nationalized.

In large measure, the transnational oil companies continue to violate the sovereignty of Bolivia, by selling their gas to Chile through Argentina while Chile maintains its arrogant attitude of sequestering Bolivia far from the Pacific Ocean. There are many examples of the way in which the corporate world government annuls the efforts of the peoples to defend themselves from looting and subjection.

The story of the wolf in sheep’s clothing would be the perfect analogy to describe how the international Right has put on an indigenist costume, not only to draw nearer to its historical victim, but also to infiltrate indigenous organizations to the point of directing their movements. The hoary separatism that eastern Bolivia has engraved in its mind allows the Right, with monumental presumptuousness, to attempt to take over again Bolivia’s gas; this time, forming autonomous republiquettes with an indigenous right wing within the strategic reserves of natural resources.

Bolivian laws that were passed during the era of neoliberalism must simply be abrogated in order to make them compatible with the spirit of multicultural unity of the new constitution. With the same purpose, the constitution perhaps should undergo a process of adjustment during this period of seeking compatibility in order to clarify its concepts and to keep the Right from reinventing cultural plurinationality, making use of the “political” meaning of the term “nation,” which includes sovereignty.

Such vacuums of interpretation allowed the USAID, NED, a legion of NGOs, transnational oil companies, the regional Right, and the communications media to articulate a united and powerful front to make possible the fragmentation of the Bolivian nationality by means of a right-wing indigenism that antagonizes the process of change.

The cases of the Tipnis and of the Guaraní people are not isolated, because they are part of a long-term framework that is very well planned and financed. Recently, the Committee for Santa Cruz gave a new face to the republiquettes that it pretends to control, by founding “productive cities” through a program that it has named Bolivia Zero Hunger, in order to differentiate it from the Zero Hunger plan implemented by Lula’s center-left in Brazil. Behind that indigenous mask, the Right proposes to control, during a pilot phase alone, two million hectares in the oil region of the Bolivian Chaco. It would do so through a program of agricultural production under which the land that the State turns over to the small farmer with property title would fall within a model of forced production controlled by specialized private companies, through yet another agreement (treaty) of “strategic alliance with the indigenous.”

The carbon-offset bonds offered in the Tipnis, as well as the control of production through the Bolivia Zero Hunger plan and Repsol’s investments, are mechanisms to create indigenous dependency, for they place their welfare, health, education, culture and food in the hands of private transnational enterprises. Programs to organize production by the small farmers are an imperious need, but they must respect the nationality and unity of the Bolivian people. They must be designed by the people, sponsored by the State, and complemented with the harmonious participation of the national private sector committed to the country, not designed by capitalists NGO, financed by USAID, supported by the NED, and controlled by transnational voracity. That would mean the division of the Bolivian nation into two regions with totally opposed courses.

Sectarism is the mechanism used by imperialism to destroy nationalities and take over natural resources. That has been shown in history from Biblical times to the present, when separatism between Shias and Sunnis is allowing the Western empires to destroy the Middle East and North Africa in order to obtain absolute control of the region that contains the primary world reserve of oil.

Perhaps this year the government should begin a second phase of the nationalization of hydrocarbons, taking 100 percent control of transnationals that act against national integrity and security. In 2006, when nationalization was an inescapable necessity and a mandate of the Bolivian people, president Morales opted to implement it gradually. It was a prudent course, given the publicized international reaction during his first year in government, but, six years later, it has been shown to be not enough to defend nationhood.

To affect the transnationals, but to leave them inside the country, conspiring indefinitely against the process of change, would be a fatal error for the Bolivian people. That was the error made by Germán Busch when, facing the need to nationalize the mining industry, he yielded to the pressures against doing it and decided simply to regulate it. He left in place his powerful enemies, conspiring within the country, but he paid for his mistake with his life, and the Bolivian people suffered another long cycle of looting and subjection.

In order to motivate ourselves to legislate urgently what may be needed, let us remember that, following World War II, the powerful banker James Paul Warburg, who years earlier had been a financial advisor for president Roosevelt, and a member of his administration, said before the Unite States’ Senate on February 1950, “We shall have World Government, whether or not we like it. The only question is whether World Government will be achieved by conquest or consent.” They were unable by force to overcome the tenacious resistance of the Bolivian people. Let us not permit the irony that, through juridical artifice, the new capitulation could take place by consent.

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