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The International Campaign to Destabilize Bolivia

Nicaragua: Corporate Media Continues its Psychological Warfare Campaign Against the Sandinista Government

Libya 360 | Tortilla Con Sal | TeleSUR

August 9, 2016

The reposting in various progressive outlets of biased report confirms the convergence in reporting international affairs between alternative and corporate media.

A couple sits in front of a mural depicting Venezuela’s revolutionary Hugo Chavez (C), Cuba’s former leader Fidel Castro (R) and Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega (L) in Managua January 3, 2013. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas

Most economists agree the rate of profit for corporations in the United States has been falling significantly for decades, roughly to one third of what it was in the early 1960s. For corporations to maintain or increase profits they seek higher productivity and sales and lower taxes. In the current depressed global economic environment, generally higher sales seem out of the question.

In most countries in North America and Europe, corporate taxation is already low while corporate tax avoidance is a very successful industry barely under control from regulation which, when it exists at all, lags far behind. The long term tendency to lower profits means corporations focus more sharply on productivity and correspondingly on more intense cuts in labor costs.

In economic terms, the result of this process has been long-term stagnant or even falling incomes for people in North America and Europe, compounded by debt but relieved to some extent by government benefits. Politically, the result is even greater and more obvious coherence between corporate economic power and government, which is the classic profile of fascism. That stark reality is clearer than ever before in the presidential candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. But most Western news and information media persist in reporting as if the United States were a democracy, while domestic levels of poverty and inequality increase precisely because almost all the vestiges of democracy U.S. society may once have had are gone.

That domestic reality seems to have increased the desperation of Western media misrepresentation of international affairs. In Latin America and the Caribbean, governments successful in reducing poverty and inequality suffer enduringly fierce disinformation campaigns in almost all North American and European media. The levels of aggression vary over time but the underlying venal, gratuitous hostility is permanent. Right now, the media offensive against Venezuela is in relentless high gear because the NATO country corporate elites believe that with another big push they will finally inflict a lasting setback on the Bolivarian Revolution. In other countries, levels of media aggression vary depending on the political timetable of events.

Referendums or national elections almost invariably trigger redoubled, vicious campaigns in the general psychological warfare offensive. In Bolivia last year, the media disinformation campaign peaked ahead of the referendum on the possibility of Evo Morales being a candidate for the country’s next presidential election. All through 2015, national and international media piled one attack after another on the government of Cristina Fernandez in Argentina to discredit her party and its candidates in the country’s national elections that year. A similar prolonged media blitz facilitated the start of impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil. The attacks on Rafael Correa’s government in Ecuador are constant. On Cuba, Western media coverage remains extremely tendentious and hostile and the U.S. economic blockade continues as before. Here in Nicaragua, prior to this year’s national elections, the international disinformation attacks are once again as intense and false as they were in the previous election year 2011.

Back then, the main controversy was over a ruling by Nicaragua’s Supreme Court rendering inapplicable a spurious constitutional amendment passed by legislators without popular consultation prohibiting re-election. That ruling enabled Daniel Ortega to put forward his candidacy in the 2011 presidential elections which he won with 62 percent of the vote. This year the controversy is over another ruling by Nicaragua’s Supreme Court, but in relation to an internal conflict within one of Nicaragua’s opposition parties, the Independent Liberal Party, PLI. The most recent poll by the centrist M&R Consultants put total committed voter support for the five opposition parties contesting this year’s election at just over 10 percent. Respected, politically centrist Nicaraguan journalist Adolfo Pastran reports that leading opposition figures explicitly say their objective is “to totally discredit the electoral process and reject the election results.” Working towards that end, as Pastran notes, the opposition “have certainly achieved the objective of creating an international echo that in Nicaragua there’s been a coup against the legislature.”

Sure enough, in one news report after another, shameless misrepresentation in international media based on propaganda from Nicaragua’s otherwise dysfunctional political opposition have proliferated. One particularly egregious example appeared in the Fusion media web site by the anti-Sandinista ideologue Tim Rogers. In his latest disinformation report, Rogers misrepresents his decade-long record of anti-Sandinista propaganda at the Tico Times and Nicaragua Dispatch media outlets, suggesting falsely that he took an anti-Sandinista stance only after the 2011 election. Rogers faithfully copies Nicaragua’s opposition propaganda line, writing “Ortega put the final nail in the coffin of Nicaragua’s democratic pluralism on Friday, when his sycophants in the Supreme Electoral Council ordered the ouster of 28 opposition lawmakers and substitute lawmakers from the National Assembly.”

That claim is completely false on two counts. Firstly, the Supreme Electoral Council was bound by law to implement an earlier Supreme Court judgment resolving a fierce, five-year-old, internal conflict within the political opposition PLI party. Secondly, the sitting lawmakers forced the electoral and legislative authorities to act when they violated their own party’s internal rules. Of the 28 rebels, 21 were were replaced from within their own party while the other seven remained after finally agreeing to submit to their party’s internal statutes. So it is completely untrue to suggest, as Rogers does, that the opposition lost 28 lawmakers or that Daniel Ortega played a decisive role in what was yet another example of the chaos among Nicaragua’s hopelessly fragmented right-wing opposition.

The Fusion media web site states it is owned by Disney/ABC and Univision, now part of Media Broadcasting Partners, which is itself mainly owned by immensely wealthy investment companies Madison Dearborn PartnersProvidence Equity PartnersTPGThomas H. Lee Partners, and Saban Capital Group. These are major investors with a very clear, implacable corporate capitalist agenda focused relentlessly on maximizing profits. No surprise then that a lifestyle, pop culture, entertainment site like Fusion media should also serve up as bona fide news and comment what are in fact downright falsehoods attacking a progressive government very successfully focused on reducing poverty and inequality. While that example is typical of corporate media disinformation output, progressive Western alternative news and information outlets also engage in this kind of dishonest psychological warfare campaign.

Various progressive media recently published a disingenuous attack by the academic Courtney Parker on Sandinista government policy in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region. Parker’s article recycles disinformation spread by the anti-Sandinista faction of the Yatama Miskito people’s political organization, which split in 2013 following disagreements between one faction led by Osorno Coleman and another led by Brooklyn Rivera. Osorno Coleman formed a party called Myatamaran, currently allied with the Sandinista FSLN party. In contrast to Parker, even the fiercely anti-Sandinista La Prensa newspaper had enough integrity in February this year to report on the schism in the Miskito people’s political representation quoting Coleman’s opinion that “Yatama used to be an indigenous organization, now it’s a political party kidnapped by Rivera.”

For his part, Brooklyn Rivera dismisses Osorno Coleman as being an ally of the FSLN, although Coleman is quite critical of government policy on the longstanding land conflicts in Nicaragua’s Northern Autonomous Caribbean Region. Courtney Parker omits all this vital information, giving the impression that the Yatama political party and its longstanding leader Brooklyn Rivera faithfully represent Miskito opinion. In fact, Osorno Coleman and his Miskito supporters reject Rivera’s leadership and accuse other Yatama leaders of having illegally sold large tracts of Indigenous people’s lands (that constitute in total around 30 percent of Nicaragua’s national territory) to non-Miskito farming families, who themselves have been killed or wounded in attacks by Miskitos. Omitting all that context, Parker reports selectively and inaccurately on incidents like the death last year of Mario Leman Muller a Miskito leader who, she alleges “was shot on September 15, 2015—a day otherwise marked in celebration of Miskitu independence. Sandinista youth raided YATAMA headquarters and shot Lehman in cold blood.”

In fact, the events leading to Muller’s shooting were confused and extremely heated. Muller died in a confrontation following violent attacks by Yatama militants on school children, parents and teachers attending celebrations for the anniversaries of the 1856 Battle of San Jacinto and of Nicaragua’s Independence in 1821. Following the violent reaction to the extremely violent provocations of Yatama activists, Muller died of a heart attack while being urgently transported for treatment in Managua on a plane sent specifically by the Nicaraguan government to evacuate people wounded in the disturbances. Parker and her editors completely misrepresent those events and other related incidents and their context. Instead, they recycle Yatama propaganda effectively covering up that political movement’s role in the disturbing events Parker fails to report fairly and honestly. The reposting in various progressive outlets of Courtney Parker’s report confirms the convergence in reporting international affairs between alternative and corporate media. Frequently—for example on Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Nicaragua, or Venezuela too—they are practically indistinguishable.

This convergence operates largely because alternative media in the West tend to adopt similar abysmal standards of credibility as those set by corporate media, targeting the political tastes of different segments of the same economic classes. Shocking murders like that of Berta Cáceres in Honduras get exploited to burnish progressive credentials while the broad, underlying reactionary psychological warfare offensive against the achievements of progressive governments continues unchanged. Clearly systemic human rights abuses in countries like Mexico, Guatemala or Honduras, now too in Argentina and Brazil, tend to get limited coverage or else go completely unreported. On the other hand, complex and intractable conflicts in countries with progressive governments like Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela get sensationalist coverage in caricature, with practically zero context. In this way, powerful corporate investors shape and define the international news and information agenda across the Western political spectrum as part of their endless war on the impoverished majority world.

The Humanitarian Industrial Complex School of Thought | A Fish Analogy

Wrong Kind of Green

June 29, 2017

By Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

 


The humanitarian industrial complex (HIC) is separate and distinct from the charity/aid industry. The oligarchs, institutions and NGOs that comprise the HIC are not interested in the feeding frenzy they create that takes place below them. They want the whole pie. The want the prize they came for. They want the country they have targeted – in its entirety and nothing less than that.

This creates a pathological system. And like the capitalist economic system – dependent on infinite growth – at the expense of ecology and all life, which places the planet itself at the bottom of the food chain – the continuity of perpetual war must also grow infinitely for the entities constructed within this system to thrive (or even survive). This system, like a cancer, must multiply or die.

Let’s think of it in terms of hungry fish. We have three groups of fish:

  1. “biggest most powerful fish”
  2. “big fish”
  3. “small fish”

Groups 1 and 2 represent the HIC. Group 3 represents the charity/aid industry. Some NGOs belong to more than one group. An example would be Avaaz & it’s counterpart Purpose, which belong to both the HIC  and the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) because  of its diverse alliances and activities. These groups of fish are pink in colour to denote the physical and visual aspects of domination that are a prerequisite for power. Many non-pink fish are sadly fixated on striving to assimilate into the pink fish, something they can never attain since the privileges of pinkness itself is becoming more difficult to sustain. Fish that reside in the non-imperial parts of the ocean are brown. They are considered adversaries by the pink fish.

These groups (“big fish”) are NGOs like International Crisis Group, They seek access, recognition and approval from the groups that represent empire (“the biggest, most powerful fish”): World Bank, International Monetary Fund, United Nations, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Council on Foreign Relations, the Rockefeller dynasty, monarchies, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Goldman Sachs, etc. etc. Some of the International NGOs in the “big fish” group are Avaaz, Purpose, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Brookings Institution, Center for American Progress, The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Refugees International, etc. These NGOS are all financed by “the biggest, most powerful fish”, and in most all cases (unbeknownst to the public at large) they have also been created by “the biggest, most powerful fish” themselves.

The “big fish” are positioned right below the top tier of the HIC hierarchy. They swim in the same circles as “the biggest, most powerful fish” who are positioned at the very top of the hierarchy. All the fish below dream of finding a position within this group.

The fish positioned at the top of the hierarchy constitute the hegemonic power. The fish on the bottom comprise the bottom feeders. The middle class is a false construct.

The White Helmets are a 21st century NGO hybrid. A combination of soft power (the perception of altruism) and hard power (actual actions outside of the mainstream narrative), terrorism, identity theft, manufactured heroism, violence and celebrity. For a moment, consider the timing of the new superhero movies now flooding the cinemas. For Americans with a pathological fetish for violence and celebrity, these key attributes are a potent cocktail. The White Helmets were constructed exclusively to destabilize the Syrian government, thus it belongs to the HIC. It is a “big fish” and a real-life yet falsely stylized hero organization that whets the appetite of the masses that lust for such a story, be it fictionalized or a reality of our own making. Behavioural changes public relations firms such as Purpose identify this longing and exploit it via a powerful and manipulative 21st century marketing strategy referred to as “storytelling”.

Now think about what happens when “the biggest, most powerful fish” attacks a brown fish in a leadership position, that is minding its own business. The brown fish adversary lives in a specific area in the ocean where nature has provided rich resources with lots of other fish  – and as necessitated under the current global system, the “the biggest, most powerful fish” want it and must acquire it. They don’t respect sovereignty. And being so greedy and wasteful, “the biggest, most powerful fish” never have enough. So they call on the “big fish” underneath them to help launch the attack. This is akin to a psychological pre-strike.

Far in advance to the a psychological pre-strike, the “biggest most powerful fish” instruct the “big fish” to infiltrate and disperse within the targeted area. The big fish are financed to bait and hook naïve brown fish living within the targeted areas utilizing soft power methods (providing laptops, monies, etc.). They target brown fish who have become enamoured with the spectacle and pinkness. They form fish schools financed by the “biggest most powerful fish”. Where there are no existing divisions to exploit, the big fish create them. This creates the pathways necessary to destroy whole cultures from within.

The “big fish”  are tasked with framing  public perception and building/creating mainstream acquiescence. The “big fish”, created and financed by the “the biggest, most powerful fish”, start the mechanisms of war through propaganda. To do this, they also seek assistance from their alliances in both the mass media and the NPIC. They all swim in the same circles. They too are all financed by, owned by, or created by, or have become dependent on “the biggest, most powerful fish”. This symbiotic relationship sets the stage. This is not an attack to destroy the big, powerful fish (now hated and demonized by those that reside in the imperial parts of the ocean) in order to steal the abundance of rich resources, this is a “fishtarian” intervention by the pink fish to save the poor brown fish that live the with the brown fish adversary leader under its “regime”.

Upon the first attack ordered by “the biggest, most powerful fish”, the blood and flesh of the brown fish disperse in the waters. This is where the “smaller but hungry fish” appear. They live in the imperial parts of the ocean and are happy with their subservient relationship to power in that realm since they benefit from it. They are smaller, but hungry – and they have been waiting. If there is no kill from the  “the biggest, most powerful fish” – there is no feast for “the smaller but hungry fish.” These  fish include groups like Oxfam, Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. These NGOs represent a trillion dollar industry. They are massive corporations with million dollar budgets, huge rents and huger salaries.  And if “the biggest, most powerful fish” are not killing – the “smaller but hungry fish” are not going to be eating.  The pink “small fish” understand full well that the sovereign “poor brown” fish will not be saved, that they will die, that indeed these “interventions” are nothing but a ruse. But, they need the millions of dollars in aid money. In addition, many of these pink fish are Machiavellian in ideology, with any traces of empathy altogether eradicated by their belief that by colour alone, they are superior.

“The biggest, most powerful fish” are the literal lifeline of those constructed below them. And this is why, no matter how grotesque or vapid the killings, the “smaller but hungry fish”, dependent on “the biggest, most powerful fish” – will ALWAYS go along with anything “the biggest, most powerful fish” does. The “smaller but hungry fish” will always look away because their very existence depends on the “the biggest, most powerful fish” killing – infinitely.

If this cycle should ever end – “the biggest, most powerful fish” attacking brown fish adversary – the house of cards will collapse.

But imagine ….

The house of cards as still intact.

What happens to the “biggest most powerful fish” and the “big fish” if the “small fish” were no longer existent?

The “biggest most powerful fish” and the “big fish” would no longer be able to dominate.

And this is why, the “small fish” – that of the aid/charity industry in fin with the mass-media and the NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial complex must be annihilated. Because these groups are the very foundation that empire cannot exist without. They cannot be reformed.

Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

Soft Coups in Latin America: The Cases of Ecuador and Bolivia

Chicago ALBA Solidarity

October 8, 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 NGOs to carry out its plans, which often appeal to cherished liberal-left values and sentiments.  The agents of these revolutions seem just like us, with our Western liberal values. Left aside are the actual social and economic plans they will implement – it is all a rush to win democracy, then all else will later fall into place.  As a result, many people opposed to US military interventionism are taken in, many often willingly.

The progressive Latin American governments are targets 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, NED, IRI, NDI in financing 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 which align themselves to 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 (GLW) 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 an oppressed “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, Federico Fuentes of GLW 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.

A key part of the US anti-Correa and anti-Evo Morales campaign involves using indigenous and environmental groups to attack their governments. Unfortunately, consciously or not, this campaign is furthered in various alternative media centers, and can be seen in UpsideDownWorld [USDW], NACLA, and recently even Real News Network.

Too often, when liberal-left alternative media, such as NACLA, USDW, In These Times,[2] ROAR, even Naomi Klein, address Latin America,  we find articles representing and defending  the perspectives of these same US influenced environmental NGOs and related indigenous groups. This media has to some extent become transmission belts for US propaganda, as willing or unwilling participants in soft coup operations against these countries.

We find these alternative media outlets 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 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 of 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 Upside Down World’s “The Politics of Pachamama: Natural Resource Extraction vs. Indigenous Rights and the Environment in Latin America.” [5]

Contrast this with a website 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 brings to light what Achtenberg and Dangl seek to conceal:

“neither of the Internet statements [an anti-Evo Morales Avaaz petition and September 21 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 in the West, thereby undermining progressive opposition 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. No mention is made of the US role in the protests, the fact that Evo’s government had a number of the police responsible for abuse fired, or 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, one of the leaders of these TIPNIS protests, defended by Western based alternative media, announced he was joining a rightwing party.[11] This was conveniently not mentioned in this alternative media.

Someone educated about Latin America knows it is ludicrous to think the US plays no role in coups and protests 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 as well as US Infiltration of Indigenous and Environmental Groups

Hypocrisy on the Yasuni, Concealing US Fundacion Pachamama, NGOs, CONAIE, Pachakutik

As in Evo’s Bolivia, a central ingredient of the US anti-Correa campaign involves using indigenous groups and environmental NGOs to attack the Correa government, a campaign reflected in alternative media outlets such as Upside Down World, NACLA, sometimes even in Real News Network.

In Ecuador, we can see this apologetics for the US Empire in reporting on the September 30, 2010 coup attempt against Rafael Correa. At the time, Upside Down World approvingly published CONAIE’s statement on the attempted coup against Correa, which made no mention of US involvement, gave no word of support for the elected president, and blamed President Correa for the political conflict that led to the coup.[12] Marc Becker, a regular Upside Down World writer on Ecuador, posted a statement by Pachakutik 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 exposed the US role in the attempted coup against Correa, Jean-Guy Allard pointed out the US infiltration of the police (who led the coup) and armed forces.[13]

Golinger exposed the USAID/NED connections of 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 pointed out 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, receive funding from USAID and NED to destabilize the government of President Rafael Correa. Tiban, of the Pachakutik Party (political wing of CONAIE) 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.

Closing Down Fundacion Pachamama

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, was 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.

Where were these environmental NGOs when Ecuador advocated for the Yasuni Initiative?  The Correa government of Ecuador 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 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]  Morningstar: “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 included, in Ecuador: Accion Ecologica, CEDENMA; in the US: 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.

The pro-imperialist inroads made into progressive movement by the US anti-Correa campaign is illustrated by who co-signed this defense of  the USAID funded group: Acción Ecológica, Greenpeace International, 350.org, Amazon Watch, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Friends of the Earth US, Global Exchange, IFIP – International Funders for Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Environmental Network, Move to Amend Coalition, New Energy Economy, Pachamama Alliance, Rainforest Action Network, Soul of Money Institute, Women’s Earth and Climate Caucus, Womenrise for Global Peace, World Temperate Rainforest Network.

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 what Western NGOs are about: ‘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]

[1] The Pachamama Alliance website creates an emotive hook/storyline that it was the Achuar who first decided to “reach out to the modern world”: “In the 1990’s, facing oil development on their ancestral lands, Achuar elders decided to reach out to the modern world that was threatening their very existence. They issued a call for allies who would work to ‘change the dream of the modern world’ and transform the culture of overconsumption driving the destruction of the rainforest. The Pachamama Alliance was created as an answer to their call.” The reality is slightly less poetic. 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 against Correa for closing it. This includes NACLA and Upside Down World, where 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, serving 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. A completely colorless 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 Correa and Evo Morales by US funded environmental NGOs and some indigenous groupings, it is necessary to note, as Linera did in his article that these non-governmental organizations 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 the 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]

NACLA and Amazon Watch on the August 2015 protests in Ecuador, 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 the government.[29]

NACLA’s disinformation manifest itself again in summer 2015. NACLA and Upside Down World ran articles by Manuela Picq, the anti-Correa foreign journalist kicked out of the country.

Its 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, regional affiliate of the CONAIE, and was herself a participant in the protests. These were not peaceful protests, but violently attacked the police when they could not break through police lines to take over the presidential palace.  Picq herself denied she was mistreated by the police.[32]

The August protests were deliberately misrepresented in Upside Down World 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.

http://www.larepublica.ec/blog/politica/2015/06/17/conaie-otras-organizaciones-suman-movilizaciones-todo-pais/

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 Question of So-Called “Extractivism”

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

The term “extractivism” conceals the real crime: the corporate raping of the resources of the oppressed Third World and the pollution it inflicts on the environment and people living there. The 500 year imperialist pillaging of oppressed nations’ natural resources using almost slave labor conditions lies obscured. The real issue hidden by behind the term “extractivism” is who controls the natural resources of oppressed nations:  the imperial powers or these nations themselves. The central class issue of “extractivism” is buried: who uses natural resources for whose interests, who benefits, who suffers. Lies buried is that Bolivia and Ecuador have taken control of their natural resources from imperialist corporations, and use the wealth produced to improve the lives of their peoples.

While Latin America has moved in a continuing anti-imperialist, anti-neoliberal direction, and the ALBA countries have implemented social programs benefiting the disadvantaged, many previous US supporters of Latin America sovereignty have moved in a direction hostile to this process.

Writers in Upside Down World, for instance, claim that the indigenous of Ecuador are opposed to “extractivism.” However, CONAIE, while opposing industrial scale mining, defend “artisan” mining. This type of mining killed 300 people at an “artisan mine” landslide in 1993. This type of unregulated mining also has unregulated environmental effects

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]

Also concealed by this “progressive” media is the far from anti-extractivist motivations behind some of the indigenous protests in August 2015. In Macas, an area of intense protests, a key issue was actually the government’s opposition to building a road through an ecologically sensitive area.

Moreover, the previous CONAIE president, Humberto Cholango, 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 USDW and NACLA are not informed of 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.

Historic debts

To overcome Ecuador’s [or Bolivia’s, or Venezuela’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. The proposal involves Ecuador agreeing to leave Amazonian oil reserves in the ground. In return, it asked Western governments and other institutions to provide Ecuador with funds equivalent to 50% of the values of the reserve, about US$3.6 billion. Ecuador was only offered a paltry $116 million.

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 [and other oppressed nations] … 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 not to simply oppose “imperialist meddling” but 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 publications to take a similar stand, even if watered down, is nothing other than apologetics for imperialist interference. For these publications 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 of an oppressed “Third World” country, whether progressive or not, 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 crimes of imperialism against the people.

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 progressive ALBA countries defending their national sovereignty by shutting down what Bolivia Vice-President Linera called “foreign government financed organization NGOs” operating in their countries.

The stated USAID budget for Latin America is $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 backhandedly cooperating with the US soft coup plotters, claiming Correa and Evo Morales are oppressing the “Indigenous,” destroying the Amazon,  repressing leftwing political opponents. This alternative media paints US collaborators in Bolivia and Ecuador as defenders of free expression, defenders of nature, defenders of the indigenous. Even worse, much of this propaganda against Evo and Correa appears only in the alternative press, what we consider our press. Many of the people who were our allies, or allies on many other issues even today, are on the other side of the fence.

Now we are too often presented with this kind of material in NACLA that actually gives some cover and legitimacy to the US interventionist program in the ALBA countries. It makes clear how the US government’s “talking points” on the leaders of the progressive ALBA bloc have worked their way into supposed-to-be progressive alternative media writing on Latin America[44]:

That the US government has used indigenous groups against progressive governments is not a new strategy. Even back in 1600s Massachusetts, it effectively using one indigenous people against another in order to destroy both to further its colonial interests.

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, which they had, but these legitimate grievances 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. This undermines their legitimate grievances.

Nil Nikandrov in his article “US Trojan Horses in Venezuela” stated “representatives of 55 Venezuelan NGOs called the international community to rise to the defense of democracy in the country at a media event in Miami, charging Hugo Chavez with threatening democracy, neglecting human rights, and igniting a civilian conflict in Venezuela.” Quite similar to the line propagated against Correa.[45]

Bolivia

http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2016/06/09/the-us-is-preparing-to-oust-president-evo-morales.html

Amazon Watch on Bolivia

In 2011 Amazon Watch carried out similar propaganda, though not as completely baseless, against Evo Morales’ Bolivia.

https://thewrongkindofgreen.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/about-u-s-amazon-watch-take-action-help-stop-police-repression-in-bolivia/

https://intercontinentalcry.org/through-the-looking-glass/

“a new form of psywar has emerged in the form of false hope. With unlimited funding and organizational support from foundations like Ford, Rockefeller, Gates and Soros, U.S. Government propaganda now has a vast new army of non-profits that, along with corporate media and academia, serve as both a third wing of mass consciousness and a fifth column for destabilization campaigns worldwide.”

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.

NACLA, UpsideDownWorld, with regards to Ecuador, have often become vehicles to echo the attacks on this ALBA government of Correa made by the same bloc of organizations that have received US funds. This is not to say these media outlets may also receive USAID money.

We are not presented with explanations by government leaders, such Linera’s article on the TIPNIS. Emily Achtenberg gives a very skimpy summary in her writing on the TIPNIS conflict, but she cannot bring herself to refer to US Embassy interference and coordination in the conflict.

They are not so much defenders of the progressive countries as First World academic critics. For instance, NACLA can run an article criticizing Bolivia and Ecuador shutting down NGOs:

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

“Rejecting the necessity for unequivocal solidarity against imperialism, many “activists” ignore the fact that 1) a multitude of Caribbean/Latin American states, as well as any region in the Global South that had exploitable resources, have been colonized and exploited for centuries, 2) the very people at the forefront, condemning the “extractivists,” are the very people purchasing and using what is extracted (the “extractivist” states themselves use and emit almost nothing of what they extract, with the money being used to lift citizens out of extreme dire poverty), 3) these states are also very much trapped within the industrialized capitalist economic system; they do not exist in a vacuum, 4) reparations have not been made to these states who contributed essentially nothing to the planetary crisis, 5) the leaders of these states must (usually within 1-2 terms) face the daily and very real possibility of CIA-plotted assassination, destabilization and coups while satisfying a populace seeking the most basic of life necessities and economic stability, and 6) by siding with U.S.-financed NGOs such as Pachamama Alliance, Amazon Watch, etc., one is NOT in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples. Rather one is (yet again) reabsorbed by the very system we claim to oppose – reabsorbed by the very system and hegemonic rule that is destroying Indigenous Peoples and whole cultures across the entire globe.” [46]

We see in the Dissent magazine article, “Beyond the Petrostate: Ecuador’s Left Dilemma,” the author, Thea Riofrancos, tries to blame Correa for his death, not the mining company.[47] She also jumps on the bandwagon to blame Correa for “extractivism,” a “sin” evidently only committed by one country, Correa’s Ecuador. When it comes to the real issue, the real, actual crime, corporate raping of the land and environmental pollution, as with the case of Chevron, the author barely mentions it.

Nor does the article mention NED, USAID, and Western NGO funding of environmental and indigenous groups in Ecuador. Nor mention the alliance of these groups with the rightwing during the violent demonstrations in the summer of 2015. Nor question the violence of the demonstrators. [48] The article is written as if US imperialism is not an important player in the events in Ecuador.  For any serious analysis of important political events in a Third World country, the starting point has to be the role of US imperialism. Otherwise, it is covering up its role.

This is part of the very traditional arrogant Yankee attitude that many US leftists share with the US imperialists: we know better how to do things than you do, we are the best interpreters and defenders of democracy and human rights.

 
 

[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 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

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

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

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

Violence, disinformation, outright lies and anti-government propaganda

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] Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA | Part IV of an Investigative Report

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

[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; and 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

[45] http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2012/02/20/us-trojan-horses-in-venezuela.html

[46] http://www.theartofannihilation.com/fundacion-pachamama-is-dead-long-live-alba-part-iii/

[47] https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/riofrancos-beyond-petrostate-ecuador-left-dilemma

[48] http://www.importantcool.com/murder-amazon-guardians-quest-correa/

The US Is Preparing to Oust President Evo Morales

Strategic Culture Foundation

September 6, 2016

By Nil Nikandrov

 

The US Is Preparing to Oust President Evo Morales

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bolivia VP Alvaro Garcia Linera on the ebbing Latin American tide

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

September 9, 2016

 

defending-the-revolution

Defending the Revolution, Venezuela, 2002 [Source]

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

The four characteristics of the Latin American virtuous decade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The tide is on the ebb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Is Vice President Garcia Cracking Down on Dissent in Bolivia?

TeleSUR

September 11, 2015

by Federico Fuentes

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Counterpunch

Nov 5, 2014

by Serge Halimi

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AP Photo/Juan Karita

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

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

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

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

Serge Halimi is president of Le Monde diplomatique.

Notes.

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

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

 

How Bolivia is Leading the Global Fight Against Climate Disaster

Life on the Left

October 6, 2014

by Richard Fiddler

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

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

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

– Richard Fidler

* * *

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

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

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

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

People’s Conference on Climate Change

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

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

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

Evo’s Ten Commandments

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

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

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

Climate crisis as ‘crystallization’ of capitalist crises

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

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

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

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

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

Dependency and ‘extractivism’

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

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

The new economic model

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deepening the process?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resource dependency is not the cause of underdevelopment

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

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

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

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


[1] Jeffery R. Webber, “Fantasies aside, it’s reconstituted neoliberalism in Bolivia under Morales,” http://isreview.org/person/jeffery-r-webber.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Bolivia Rising

May 21, 2014

by Federico Fuentes

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

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.

Does CONAMAQ Represent Bolivia’s Highland Indigenous Peoples?

Bolivia Rising

May 22, 2014

Federico Fuentes

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

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

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

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

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

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