Tagged ‘CIDOB | Confederation of Indigenous People of Bolivia‘

Bolivia’s TIPNIS Dispute: Example of How Liberal-Left Alternative Media Becomes a Conveyor Belt for US Regime Change Propaganda


December 4, 2017

By Stansfield Smith


Pro-road CONISUR march

As has become a standard operating procedure, an array of Western environmental NGOs, advocates of indigenous rights and liberal-left alternative media cover up the US role in attempts to overturn the anti-imperialist and anti-neoliberal governments of Rafael Correa in Ecuador and Evo Morales in Bolivia.

This NACLA article is a recent excellent example of many. Bolivia’s TIPNIS (Territorio Indígena y Parque Nacional Isiboro Secure) dispute arose over the Evo Morales government’s project to complete a road through the park, opposed by some indigenous and environmental groups.

As is NACLA modus operandi, the article says not one word about US and rightwing funding and coordination with the indigenous and environmental groups behind the TIPNIS anti-highway protests. (This does not delegitimize the protests, but it does deliberately mislead people about the issues involved).

In doing so, these kinds of articles cover up US interventionist regime change plans, be that their intention or not.

NACLA is not alone in what is in fact apologetics for US interventionism. Include the Guardian, UpsideDownWorld, Amazon Watch, so-called “Marxist” Jeffery Webber (and here), Jacobin, ROAR,  Intercontinentalcry,  Avaaz, In These Times, in a short list of examples. We can add to this simply by picking up any articles about the protests in Bolivia’s TIPNIS (or oil drilling in Ecuador’s Yasuni during Rafael Correa’s presidency) and see what they say about US funding of protests, if they even mention it.

This is not simply an oversight, it is a cover-up.

What this Liberal Left Media Covers Up

On the issue of the TIPNIS highway, we find on numerous liberal-left alternative media and environmental websites claiming to defend the indigenous concealing that:

The leading indigenous group of the TIPNIS 2011-2012 protests was being funded by USAID. The Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of the Bolivian East (CIDOB) had no qualms about working with USAID — it boasted on its website that it received training programs from USAID. CIDOB president Adolfo Chavez, thanked the “information and training acquired via different programs financed by external collaborators, in this case USAID”.


The 2011 TIPNIS march was coordinated with the US Embassy, specifically Eliseo Abelo. His phone conversations with the march leaders – some even made right before the march set out — were intercepted by the Bolivian counter-espionage agency and made public.


“The TIPNIS marchers were openly supported by right wing Santa Cruz agrobusiness interests and their main political representatives, the Santa Cruz governorship and Santa Cruz Civic Committee.” In June 2011 indigenous deputies and right wing parties in the Santa Cruz departmental council formed an alliance against the MAS (Movement for Socialism, Evo Morales’s party). CIDOB then received a $3.5 million grant by the governorship for development projects in its communities.


Over a year after the TIPNIS protests, one of the protest leaders announced he was joining a rightwing anti-Evo Morales political party.


The protest leaders of the TIPNIS march supported REDD (Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation). The Avaaz petition (below) criticizing Evo Morales for his claimed anti-environmental actions also covered this up. As far back as 2009 “CIDOB leaders were participating there in a USAID-promoted workshop to talk up the imperialist-sponsored REDD project they were pursuing together with USAID-funded NGOs.”

REDD was a Western “environmental” program seeking to privatize forests by converting them into “carbon offsets” that allow Western corporations to continue polluting. That REDD would give Western NGOs and these indigenous groups funds for monitoring forests in their areas.

These liberal-left alternative media and environmental NGOs falsely presented the TIPNIS conflict as one between indigenous/environmentalist groups against the Evo Morales government. (e.g. the TIPNIS highway was “a project universally[!] condemned by local indigenous tribes and urban populations alike”) Fred Fuentes pointed out that more than 350 Bolivian organizations, including indigenous organizations and communities, even within TIPNIS, supported the proposed highway.

CONISUR (Consejo de Indígenas del Sur), consisting of a number of indigenous and peasant communities within TIPNIS, backed by Bolivia’s three largest national indigenous campesino organizations, organized a march to support of the road. They argued that the highway is essential to integrating Bolivia’s Amazonia with the rest of the country, as well as providing local communities with access to basic services and markets.

The overwhelming majority of people in the West who know about the TIPNIS protests, or the Yasuni protests in Ecuador, where a similar division between indigenous groups took place, never learned either from the liberal-left media or the corporate media, that indigenous groups marched in support of the highway or in support of oil drilling.

Therefore, this liberal-left media is not actually defending “the indigenous.” They are choosing sides within indigenous ranks, choosing the side that is funded and influenced by the US government.

The TIPNIS conflict is falsely presented as Evo Morales wanting to build a highway through the TIPNIS wilderness (“cutting it in half” as they dramatically claim). There are in fact two roads that exist there now, which will be paved and connected to each other. Nor was it wilderness: 20,000 settlers lived there by 2010.[1]


Anti- highway march leaders actually defended industrial-scale logging within TIPNIS. Two logging companies operated 70,000 hectares within the national park and have signed 20-year contracts with local communities.


They often fail to note that the TIPNIS marchers, when they reached La Paz, sought to instigate violence, demanding Evo Morales removal. Their plot was blocked by mobilization of local indigenous supporters of Evo’s government.

If we do not read Fred Fuentes in Green Left Weekly, we don’t find most of this information. Now, it is true that some of the media articles did mention that there were also TIPNIS protests and marches demanding the highway be built. Some do mention USAID, but phrase it as “Evo Morales claimed that those protesting his highway received USAID funding.”

Avaaz Petition Attacking Evo Morales over TIPNIS

The TIPNIS campaign, which became a tool in the US regime change strategy, was taken up in a petition by Avaaz. It included 61 signing groups. Only two from Bolivia! US signers included Amazon Watch, Biofuelwatch, Democracy Center, Food and Water Watch, Global Exchange, NACLA, Rainforest Action Network.  Whether they knew it, whether they wanted to know it, they signed on to a false account of the TIPNIS conflict, placed the blame on the Bolivian government, target of US regime change, and hid the role of the US.

US collaborators in Bolivia and Ecuador are painted as defenders of free expression, defenders of nature, defenders of the indigenous. The US government’s “talking points” against the progressive ALBA bloc countries have worked their way into liberal-left alternative media, which echo the attacks on these governments by organizations there receiving US funds.  That does not mean Amazon Watch, Upside Down World or NACLA are themselves funded by the US government – if it somehow exculpates them that they do this work for free. Even worse, much of this propaganda against Evo and Correa appears only in the liberal-left alternative press, what we consider our press.

The USAID budget for Latin America is said to be $750 million, but estimates show that the funding may total twice that. Maria Augusta Calle of Ecuador’s National Assembly, said in 2015 the US Congress allocated $2 billion to destabilize targeted Latin American countries.

This information, how much money it is, what organizations in the different countries receive it, how it is spent, ought to be a central focus of any liberal-left alternative media purporting to stand up for the oppressed peoples of the Americas.

Yet, as Fuentes points out:  “Overwhelmingly, solidarity activists uncritically supported the anti-highway march. Many argued that only social movements — not governments — can guarantee the success of [Bolivia’s] process of change…. with most articles written by solidarity activists, they] downplay the role of United States imperialism…. Others went further, denying any connection between the protesters and US imperialism.”

Why do they let themselves become conveyer belts for US regime change propaganda?

Why did this liberal-left media and NGOs let themselves become conveyer belts for US propaganda for regime change, legitimizing this US campaign to smear the Evo Morales government?

Some of it lies in the liberalish refusal to admit that all international issues can only be understood in the context of the role and the actions of the US Empire. As if conflicts related to countries the US deems hostile to its interests can be understood without taking the US role into account. Some liberal-left writers and groups do understand this, just as they do understand they may risk their positions and funding by looking to closely into it.

It seems easier to not see the role the Empire plays and simply present a liberal-left “critique” of the pluses and minuses of some progressive government targeted by the US. That is how these alternative media sources end up actually advocating for indigenous groups and environmental NGOs which are US and corporate funded. They even criticize countries for defending national sovereignty by shutting down these non-governmental organizations, what Bolivian Vice-President Linera exposes as “foreign government financed organizations” operating in their countries.

Some of it lies in the widely held anti-authoritarian feeling in the US that social movements “from below” are inherently good and that the government/the state is inherently bad. The reporting can be informative on social movements in Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia where the people struggle against state repression. But when these social movements in Ecuador or Bolivia were able to win elections and gain hold of some real state power, reporting soon becomes hostile and misleading. “Support social movements when they struggle against governmental power; oppose them once they win government power,” they seem to say. Their reporting slides into disinformation, undermining our solidarity with other struggles, and covering up US regime change efforts. UpsideDownWorld is an excellent example of this.

Some of it lies in what many who call themselves “left” still have not come to terms with: their own arrogant white attitude they share with Western colonizers and present day ruling elites: we know better than you what is good for you, we are the best interpreters and defenders of your socialism, your democracy, your human rights. They repeatedly critique real or imagined failures of progressive Third World governments – targets of the US.

Genuine solidarity with the peoples of the Third World means basing yourself in opposition to the Empire’s interference and exposing how it attempts to undermine movements seeking to break free from the Western domination.

Some of it lies in deep-rooted white racist paternalism in their romanticizing the indigenous as some “noble savage” living at one with nature in some Garden of Eden. Providing these people with schools, health clinics, modern conveniences we have, is somehow felt not to be in their best interests.

A serious analysis of a Third World country must begin with the role the West has played.  To not point out imperialism’s historic and continuing exploitive role is simply dishonest, it is apologetics, it shows a basic lack of human feeling for the peoples of the Third World.

A function of corporate media is to conceal Western pillaging of Third World countries, to cheerlead efforts to restore neocolonial-neoliberal governments to power. However, for liberal-left media and organizations to do likewise, even if halfway, is nothing other than supporting imperialist interference.


[1] Linda C.  Farthing, Benjamin H. Kohl Evo’s Bolivia: Continuity and Change (2014: 52)


[Stansfield Smith, Chicago ALBA Solidarity Committee, recently returned from a SOA Watch, Task Force on the Americas delegation to Venezuela.]

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

Introduction and translation by Richard Fidler, Life on the Left

December 11, 2012

Revolution and Counterrevolution in Bolivia

Bolivian leader replies to critics of the Morales government’s development strategy


Álvaro García Linera is one of Latin America’s leading Marxist intellectuals. He is also the Vice-President of Bolivia — the “co-pilot,” as he says, to President Evo Morales, and an articulate exponent of the government’s policies and strategic orientation.

In a recent book-length essay, Geopolitics of the Amazon: Patrimonial-Hacendado Power and Capitalist Accumulation, published in September 2012, García Linera discusses a controversial issue of central importance to the development process in Latin America, and explains how Bolivia is attempting to address the intersection between economic development and environmental protection.

“Plan Tipnis” Seeks to Further Destabilize & Create the Conditions for a Coup in Bolivia

GOBIERNO Denuncia Plan Tipnis Para Afectar Estado de Derecho

Cambio, LA PAZ 



El vicepresidente Álvaro García Linera dijo que la estrategia usa la demanda legítima de la tropa policial y la vincula con la llegada de la marcha de la Cidob.

El Gobierno, ante el desconocimiento del acuerdo por parte de un sector de policías de base y la proximidad a La Paz de la marcha de la Cidob, confirma la aplicación de una estrategia subversiva denominada Plan Tipnis, que busca desestabilizar y crear las condiciones de un golpe de Estado en el país.

Citando reportes de Inteligencia y de prensa, el Gobierno, a través de un boletín del Ministerio de Comunicación, señala que el plan arrancó el 21 de junio con el motín de la Asociación Nacional de Suboficiales, Sargentos, Clases y Policías (Anssclapol) por demanda salarial, la que no se desactivó con el acuerdo de nueve puntos firmado la madrugada del domingo.

“La estrategia continuaba bloqueando y boicoteando la solución del conflicto policial con la posición intransigente de exigir como salario básico Bs 3.000, para luego convocar a maestros, trabajadores afiliados a la COB y activistas que marchan a La Paz con el apoyo del Gobierno Municipal paceño y funcionarios ediles”, señala parte de la denuncia gubernamental.

En rueda de prensa, el vicepresidente Álvaro García Linera confirmó que el Plan Tipnis tiene dos fases golpistas.

“Está en la fase inicial de apresto golpista, y en la segunda etapa buscan muertos (…) Hay comunicaciones radiales que vinculan (el conflicto policial) con el Plan Tipnis. Eso no es reivindicación, uno dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, diez veces hablan de bombas molotov, asesinar a militares, quemar unidades militares, de limpiar (matar) al ministro (de Gobierno) Carlos Romero y hacer golpe a Evo”, dijo García.

Los ideólogos del Plan Tipnis, a los que llamó “fuerzas oscuras”, se aprovechan de una demanda legítima de los policías y los manipulan. Denunció, por ejemplo, que el ex candidato político de Unidad Nacional, de Samuel Doria Medina, sacó armas de la UTOP el día del motín policial. El domingo, la ministra de Comunicación, Amanda Dávila, confirmó la circulación de comunicados públicos que señalan atacar con bombas molotov a ‘los plomos’ que custodian el Palacio de Gobierno.

La vinculación con el Tipnis tiene que ver con la coincidencia del arribo a La Paz, este miércoles, de la marcha de la Confederación de Indígenas del Oriente Boliviano (Cidob), liderada por el suspendido dirigente Adolfo Chávez. El domingo, el presidente Evo Morales, desde el centro minero Coro Coro, culpó a un grupo de policías de afanes de desestabilización que buscan su derrocamiento.

El dirigente de la Central Obrera Boliviana (COB) Simeón Jaliri denunció que el Plan Tipnis es la “sorpresa” de la que habló en pasados días Adolfo Chávez a su llegada a La Paz. “Este dirigente (Chávez), ha tenido varias reuniones con el ex asesor de Juan Del Granado, (Javier) Zárate y el ex candidato de UN Juan Carlos Soraide para coordinar”, dijo Jaliri.

Los analistas políticos Marcos Domich y Hugo Moldiz coinciden en que se trata de una estrategia de la derecha para gestar un golpe de Estado.


• La opositora Unidad Nacional (UN), a través del diputado Jaime Navarro, según radio Fides, confirmó la estrategia de ese partido para llegar al Gobierno, pero “por votos y no un golpe”.

• El Gobierno denunció que en el motín de un sector de la tropa policial, que comenzó el jueves, se incrustaron actores políticos, como el ex mayor de policías David Vargas y el ex policía militante de Unidad Nacional Juan Carlos Soraide, entre otros.

Domich apunta a la derecha y al imperio

El analista político Marcos Domich considera que los aprestos subversivos contra el Gobierno y la democracia boliviana se gestan desde hace tiempo y detrás de éstos está el imperio a través de sus operadores de la derecha boliviana, como Unidad Nacional (UN) y el Movimiento Sin Miedo (MSM).

“Hemos afirmado antes el plan golpista que se liga con la marcha de la Cidob contra la consulta en el Tipnis”, dijo.  En su análisis, el objetivo final de estos afanes políticos es tomar el Palacio de Gobierno y en su opinión eso sería “grave”.

“Sin embargo, el pueblo no debe amedrentarse en salir a defender el proceso revolucionario que tuvo un elevado costo recuperarlo”, afirmó. “No hay duda de que es parte de la ofensiva imperialista de carácter global”, agregó.

False Solutions: CIDOB and COICA Call for REDD Indigena at Rio+20 (Spanish)

In Bolivia, CIDOB and COICA continue to undermine the Morales (MAS) Government’s position on REDD.

WKOG ADMIN: This text was provided by independent investigative journalist and ecological activist Cory Morningstar:
“JUNE 22, 2012: In Bolivia, CIDOB and COICA continued to undermine the Morales (MAS) Government’s position on REDD in Rio. This document (below) was sent to me. When I shared it with an anti-REDD documentary filmmaker who was in Rio working with the grossly marginalized Indigenous in Brazil, etc. she replied ‘What? That never came up at the Free Land Camp !!! They must have done that behind closed doors.'”


Escrito por administrador

Viernes, 22 de Junio de 2012 09:59

La Coordinadora de Naciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica (Coica) plantea en los foros de la Conferencia sobre Desarrollo Sostenible de las Naciones Unidas Río+20, que se realiza en Brasil, la creación de una Redd Indígena para el respeto de los territorios originarios, informó Carlos Mamani de la delegación boliviana que participa en el evento internacional.

“Es una propuesta de los pueblos indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica que está siendo presentada en los foros internacionales. Redd Indígena es una alternativa que se enmarca en el cumplimiento de los derechos de los territorios indígenas, especialmente al respeto de derechos de los pueblos indígenas”, señaló Mamani.


Image: 2010. Note that Morales greets his Indigenous sisters and brothers freely, without need of intense security /body guards.

“As the United States Departments of State and Defense gear up for a new round of destabilization campaigns in South America in 2013 and 2014, the second generation of democratic renewal under leaders like Evo Morales faces a grave threat. Unlike the crude coups and dictatorships of the Cold War and earlier banana republics, this anti-democratic offensive makes exaggerated use of ephemeral pseudo activism in the form of color revolutions used so extensively by the CIA in North Africa and Eastern Europe. Recent snubbing of the US and Canada by South American governments at the Organization of American States may signal a resistance to returning to the days of old, but until they reject neoliberalism and its corrupting influence, they are still susceptible to international markets opening the door to US military control.” – Jay Taber, Center for World Indigenous Studies Website


National Meeting (Quito, April 29, 2012) of former Indigenous Leaders of Ecuador -Encuentro Nacional de ex Dirigentes Indígenas del Ecuador- (with the participation of a hundred historical leaders of the peoples and nationalities of Ecuador)


Our friend and comrade Evo Morales Ayma, President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, is currently facing growing destabilization attempts, seeking to weaken his government, which was democratically reelected, and thus to truncate the Cultural and Democratic Revolutionary process that he has been heading since 2006.


Evo Morales Ayma, as a Latin American leader formed in the heat of the struggles of the indigenous peoples to change neocolonialist and capitalist relations, has been able to guiding a process of historical transformations that has been a contribution not only to his country, but to the region and the world.


He has set up the basis for the new Plurinational State of Bolivia, with a long-term perspective orientated by the philosophy of Vivir Bien (Living Well), for the construction of which a whole series of State policies are being put in place, focusing on decolonization, depatriarchalization, strengthening sovereignty and in depth socio-economic change.


He has been able to introduce fundamental aspects of the worldviews of our peoples in the most recent global debates, putting forward concrete initiatives to defend the rights of Mother Earth, and with an active participation in integration initiatives from and for the peoples, such as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America (ALBA) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).


These enormous steps of progress have been possible due to the leading role played by the Bolivian people, following the principle of ‘ruling by obeying’ in the exercise of government.  This popular support has been crucial for facing the tenacious opposition engaging national and international interests and forces, which has resorted to all sorts of means of disrupting this process of change: from direct violence to symbolic racist violence, from coup conspiracies to the manipulation of popular causes.


From the indigenous peoples of Abya Yala, and from all those of us who feel part of the historic changes that the region is going through, we express our unconditional support for President Evo Morales Ayma, as well as our commitment to the defense and advancement of the Cultural and Democratic Revolution in Bolivia.


Masi, Mashi, Ir?, Comrade, we support you!


Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Peace Nobel Prize, Guatemala

Ricardo Ulcuango Farinango, Ambassador of Ecuador to Bolivia

Irene León, Sociologist, Ecuador

Magdalena León T., Economist, Ecuador

Manuel Imbaquingo, Indigenous Leader, Ecuador

To endorse this statement:  Español | English | Português | Français

WATCH: President Morales Speaks to Imperialism

Also read:

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

The Morales Government: Neoliberalism in Disguise?

International Socialism

27 March 12

Federico Fuentes

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

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

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

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

Profile of neoliberalism

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

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

The impact of neoliberalism in Bolivia includes:6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An alternative model

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 23, 2012

By Cory Morningstar


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

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

Indigenist Oil Companies?

By Juan Carlos Zambrana Marchetti

January 18, 2012

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Origin of the Alliance Between Some Indigenous Leaders and the Right

By Juan Carlos Zambrana Marchetti

January 11, 2012

Under Politics & Policy Tags: Bolivia, Indigenous

Camba image, used by the Bolivian Right to cultivate hatred towards the Colla

One of the more surprising decisions of Bolivian indigenism is the obvious alliance between the leaders of the Indigenous Confederation of Eastern Bolivia (CIDOB, acronym in Spanish) and the conservative Green party (Verdes) of the governor of Santa Cruz, Ruben Costas, against a process of change that defends the indigenous. It is an inconceivable decision, the logic of which can be understood only by taking into account, aside from the foreign million-dollar investment that stands behind it, the extensive campaign of manipulation that made it possible.

It began before World War II, during the revolutionary government of the camba Germán Busch, when, in Washington, Enrique Sanchez de Lozada was able to warn Nelson A. Rockefeller of the rise in Bolivia of revolutionary and nationalist intellectuals who sought to represent an indigenism that was beginning to claim its own political space. He proposed to get ahead of events by influencing the indigenous people through programs of social assistance. Rockefeller disseminated the proposal to the political circles of Washington using the enormous power that he exercised at the State Department.

In the economic sense, the Bohan Mission, sent to project the economic diversification of Bolivia, reached the foregone conclusion of empowering Santa Cruz. In the political sense, this was how the United States countered highlands anti-imperialism, transforming the Cruzan landowners into a modern dominant conservative class that it strengthened with agricultural and cattle-raising credits in the millions, aside from programs for irrigation and industrialization.

The manipulation had little effect in the highlands, simply because it arrived too late. The human concentration in mining centers and the support of the revolutionary governments had already united the indigenous people in powerful trade unions whose class consciousness was consolidated. In the east, to the contrary, control was absolute, due among other things to the fact that the indigenous people, called Cambas with a negative implication, lived separate from each other and in a state of absolute dependency on the agricultural and cattle-raising economy of the hacienda.

As Sanchez de Lozada had anticipated, the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR), which promoted the emancipation of the indigenous people, reached power through the revolution of 1952. But, so prepared was the United States for that possibility, that immediately the fighter and leader Hernan Siles Suazo was made to hand over the government to Victor Paz Estenssoro, the intellectual leader who negotiated with Washington the recognition of his government and who ended up by surrendering the revolution, fracturing the MNR into two opposing factions.

There arose in Bolivia the political practice of pretending to be revolutionary, to satisfy the people, while respecting the oligarchic interests in order to satisfy the United States, which financed everything. Fulfilling the promises of the emancipation of the indigenous people, the MNR incorporated the latter into civil society, but that did not go beyond rhetoric, because, at least in Santa Cruz, the new dominant class had not only captured the new electorate, but induced it to become part of the Right wing of the MNR that had surrendered the revolution.

From the time of colonialism, the whites had taken away the culture of indigenous peoples, completely alienating them from their warrior’s identity, respectful of nature and loving liberty. They did this by fighting them into submission, then instructing them in the catechism of a religion that conceived of slavery, and later incorporating them into the European culture based on social castes, leaving the indigenous to occupy the bottom level –precisely that of the slave, in its Latin version called servitude.

When universal suffrage turned the indigenous people into an attractive electorate, and the U.S.-supported Cruzan oligarchy took control of the right wing of the ruling party, they decided to re-acculturate themselves in order to better justify their representation of the indigenous. The word “Camba” went from being an insult to being cultivated as an adornment that humanized the whites. The oligarchy appropriated the identity of the Cambas, and that explains why the culture, the folklore, the religion, and even false beliefs were promoted by the power centers of the city of Santa Cruz, until there was implanted the aberration that the Cambas are the white leaders who set the political course, and the indigenous are the flock who follow them blindly for “religious” and “cultural” reasons.

An historical event that illustrates the resistance that the revolution found in Santa Cruz took place in 1957, when a commission from Agrarian Reform, which in theory had returned the land to the indigenous, attempted to enter the locality of Huacareta, but its members were murdered by the landowners. Facing pressure from public opinion, the authorities arrested the guilty parties, but later freed them because they had the backing of the business elite of the MNR that was protected by the United States, whose goal was to consolidate the capitalist system of the hacienda, or agricultural and cattle-raising corporation.

But U.S. support never comes free, and the new entrepreneurial class had to comply with the political objective with which it had been created: to oppose the highlands anti-imperialism and to support Washington’s policies, no matter how abusive these might be. That explains how Santa Cruz was made into the Achilles’ heel of the Bolivian revolution, always on the side of the right-wing dictatorships and of every neoliberal government supported by Washington in favor of looting and of the exploitation of the Bolivian people.

In order to continue to mislead the Cambas, generation after generation, there was presented in Santa Cruz in 1976, during the dictatorship of Gen. Banzer, the monument to Chiriguano the Indian, ordered by the Ladies’ Civic Committee. It was placed as a sentinel at the entrance to the city, in the middle of the highway to Cochabamba, arrogant and bellicose, reminding all that the eastern indigenous never allowed themselves to be dominated by the Inca empire. The truth is that the bloodiest war carried out by the eastern indigenous peoples was that against the Spanish empire, as is demonstrated by history and by the significant fact that Captain Nuflo Chaves founder of the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, died at the hands of the indigenous, and the city had to be moved toward the west in order to escape from the hostilities.

The true history shows that the Guarani in effect drove the invaders from their lands, but it was not the Collas (westerners) who were expelled, as the Right insinuates, but the Spanish empire. Barely had the republican epoch began when a new invasion of white and mestizo land-seekers, backed by the army, was let loose upon the fertile territories of the indigenous. But the land theft was not easy, due to the combative spirit of the Guaraní, who resisted in a long and unequal war whose battles invariably ended in massacres, such as those of Karitati in 1840, Tiritati in 1862, Machareti and Ibague in 1874, and Kuruyuqui in 1892, in which 1,000 people died including men, women, and children. After the subjugation of the indigenous, servitude and forced labor were perpetuated until the present as an open secret that the Right and the Catholic Church denied, but that the International Labor Organization and the United Nations confirmed in 2005 and 2007.

The campaign of deceit carried out by the Right and its media, in which the Church always collaborated in complicit silence, continued with the pernicious planting of monuments around the city. In 1986, during the fourth administration of Victor Paz Estenssoro, during which, following the neoliberal mandate of the Washington Consensus, he handed the country over to the transnational corporations, the “Cambas” of the dominant class, sheltered within the Civic Committee pro Santa Cruz, inaugurated another monument as a symbol of separatism between the Cambas and the Collas: that of a little-known federalist called Andres Ibanez, fist raised high, defiant and looking also to the west along the same road to Cochabamba.

Just as was done with the warrior identity of the eastern indigenous, what was usurped now was the worthy image of a reformist leader who, inspired by the French revolution, died defending the interests of the indigenous in seeking equality in an oligarchic society. Ironically, the same social class that murdered him a hundred years earlier began to use his image as a symbol of separatism. The truth is that Ibanez raised his voice, fist and rifle against the oligarchy. He was killed for having abolished servitude, turned over unused land to the small farmer, and regulated the sugar industry, imposing the payment of taxes. Ibanez fought for a more just society and died for refusing to surrender his revolution. He was the precursor of the processes of change in Bolivia and Latin America. He turned to federalism only at the end of his government, as a last resort to defend his social reforms, as the Cruzan oligarchy, with its eternal campaign of intrigues, had managed to place him at odds with the central government.

It’s not strange that the Right, lacking all empathy for the Bolivian revolution that defends the country, continues to live politically from separatism. Neither is it strange that the million-dollar investments to seduce the leaders of CIDOB have yielded fruit. But this places the indigenous leaders in a paradox. They face a popular government that seeks to take the agrarian reform to the lowlands facing against the iron-clad opposition of the conservative green party of Gov. Costas, which, contrary to constitutional principles, has reserved to itself, through its Statute of Autonomy, the power to decide on the certification of ownership of those lands in order to continue to serve the dominant class that it represents.

What is strange, therefore, is that a few leaders in search of a leading role have decided to ignore that reality and to join with their historical enemies in an attempt to undo the process of change. By its origin, history, and nature, counter-revolutionary indigenism is a method of neocolonial submission that is imposing on the Bolivian people enormous social and economic costs.

There now exists an historic opportunity for the rest of the indigenous bases and for the Cambas in general, because, although the government of Morales has the political will to revert the looting that the landowners have imposed on the indigenous people, making real such a revolutionary act will not be possible so long as the oligarchy remains entrenched in the governorship of Santa Cruz, counseled by extreme-right U.S. Republicans and financed by the NED. Even less possible will it be, as long as the eastern indigenous remain under the control of the international Right, financed by USAID and the NGOs behind which lie hidden the interests of looting and of control of the planet.

The time has come for the Cambas to break free from the trauma of racism as to the Collas that the oligarchy has cultivated in their souls. Enough with the lies! Not only are the Cambas and Collas Bolivian brethren, we are by now so intermixed that separatism is irrational. There is no longer reason for such malice in the retelling of history, because the real war that Bolivians confront is the eternal war of looting by the Right against the resistance of the Left; the war between patriotic feelings of love for our nationality and the separatism that is indispensable for continuing the looting.

It’s time for the Cambas to represent themselves, to take over the political space that belongs to them, and to act in defense of their true class interest. In this way, the laws issued in La Paz in favor of the indigenous will be able to extend under better conditions to the eastern territories that until now continue to be unassailable redoubts of the transnational oligarchy.

The Phenomenon of the Indigenous Counterrevolution

By Juan Carlos Zambrana Marchetti

January 13, 2012

It is no secret that the United States finances the opposition to leftist governments, and that its motivation is to control natural resources. In the case of Bolivia, indigenous resistance to U.S. abuse made the indigenous people formidable defenders of human rights, but their symbiotic relationship with the land also made them defenders of natural resources. Evo Morales managed to tie up the loose ends of this symbiotic relationship, and, therefore, his victory was so significant for the indigenous peoples that now, in Bolivian politics, all roads pass through the indigenous. The extreme right had no choice but to invent their own indigenism, and, as absurd as it might be, the notion of an indigenous imperialism, the new political phenomenon in Bolivia, is an indigenism complacent with neoliberalism, the U.S. Embassy, the transnational oil companies, and the NGOs, where the interests of looting hide.

This novel mutation of the indigenous movement has its center of operations in the lowlands of Santa Cruz, coalescing around the Indigenous Confederation of Eastern Bolivia (CIDOB), funded by USAID and supported by a legion of NGOs, as was demonstrated by the march opposing the road through the TIPNIS, and the agreement that the Guarani signed directly with the Repsol oil company, with the help of the NGO Nizkor, behind the back of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

In the latter case, Repsol simply put $14.8 million in a Certificate of Deposit for ten years, with the interests committed itself to give approximately $140,000 monthly to the Assembly of Guarani People (APG) for them to manage freely. Considering that international oil companies are for-profit entities, it is clear that there exists an ulterior motive, beyond the apparent philanthropy. As it happened with the TIPNIS road, where one of the mechanisms to create the dependency of the Indigenous, were the carbon bonds paid by the industrialized countries as a “compensation,” (which allows them, by the way, to continue polluting the planet), the consultation with the Indigenous that the new constitution establishes to approve the environmental permits for projects in their territories had been kidnapped in advance by the interests of plunder, in order to boycott the process of change.

The U.S., the transnational corporations, the NGOs, the Right, its powerful press, and even the Catholic Church, were openly promoting the new indigenous counterrevolutionary leadership, dependent on the interests of plunder, to put in place around the natural resources new local elites opposed to the national interest. Following the political mandates of their “benefactors,” the counterrevolutionary indigenous leaders proved that they could oppose every project and even destabilize the government, which ultimately means boycotting the process of change, and why not, even overthrowing Morales’ government.

History has shown that the Right, when is defeated democratically due to its in lack of arguments to convince a historically dispossessed people such as Bolivians of the benefits of pillage, resorts to the most curious and conspiratorial covert operations. The phenomenon of counterrevolutionary indigenism is undoubtedly one of those destabilizing projects. However, the manipulation is so obvious that it does not withstand the test of an objective analysis. The Bolivian people have already realized that the eternal war between Left and Right is the war between plundering and a people who refuse to be robbed one more day.

Having come to power, the Bolivian people have a new objective in the sphere of understanding. The Guarani people are beginning to understand, for example, that they don’t need to surrender to the transnational corporations that previously took 83% of the value of hydrocarbons and intend to do it again. What they need to do is to claim their portion of the Direct Tax on Hydrocarbons (IDH), which is a resource for the welfare of the producing areas. They are finally understanding that the nationalization carried out by President Morales has multiplied those revenues, which are still being administered by the regional governments. These revenues, at least in the case of Santa Cruz, being in the hands of the Right, have been redistributed through projects that benefit the productive sectors in power. The indigenous Bolivians are finally understanding that some of that money belongs to them, and that all they have to do to manage it directly is to push for democratization of the concept of autonomy, which left behind national centralism only to become stuck in that of the governorships.

In December 2005, when Evo Morales won his first election by promising the people the nationalization of hydrocarbons, Tarija’s Governor (then Prefect) Mario Cossio, closely linked to transnational corporations, and speaking for the Right, said that they had lost the central government but not the hydrocarbons, because the new provincial governments would take over decision-making concerning those resources. Autonomy was, without a doubt, the plan “B” of the transnationals to control Bolivia’s hydrocarbons. It was not surprise, therefore, to confirm that the transnational oil companies were always part of the Right’s destabilizing structure that constantly conspired against Evo Morales’ government.

The process of renewing understanding that the Bolivian people are going through is actually a process of recovery from the enormous damage caused by the powerful campaign of disinformation with which the Right has managed to place them in a state of collective hypnosis, under which, as automatons, they have boycotted their own future. This process of awakening of consciousness was noted, for example, in the latest election of the Guarani People’s Assembly, in which the leader who signed the agreement with Repsol Oil lost the election facing a leadership that favors good relations with the government in order to carry out legislative changes to rescue their representation, and the right to self-manage their resources.

Something similar is starting to happen with the natives of the TIPNIS, who have already realized the manipulation to which they have been subjected by the interests of plunder. They understand that the national projects, being genuinely in favor of the classes previously forgotten are much more beneficial for them, as is, for example, the project of the Chapare development pole, which aims to make possible the substitution of coca leaf production with the industrialization and export of agricultural products under the communitarian production model, in which they are protagonists.

The transnationals boycotted the road to prevent the success of that production model, opposite to the capitalist agriculture model, that is controlling the world’s food production. Again, the motives of the conflict are the attempts of transnational corporatocracy to control Bolivia, and the efforts of the people to defend themselves.

In despite of all, the poor results of the huge imperialist investments to defeat Morales and his process of transformation prove that, in Bolivia, the counterrevolutionary indigenous movement will be just another U.S. experiment doomed to failure, simply because it prostitutes the indigenous identity by corrupting it for the benefit of exploiters, dragging it away from its natural symbiotic relationship with mother earth, which make the indigenous invariably anti-imperialist.