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The U.S. Deploys its Third Major Attempt to Destabilize the Government of Evo Morales

Resumen

August 1, 2018

By Hugo Moldiz Mercado

 

Using the 2019 elections as the pretext, The United States, through different means and actors, is activating its third major plan to destabilize Evo Morales’ government, block the indigenous leader’s project of political-electoral continuity and interrupt the process of change.

However, far from coming from a position of strength, these external actions against the process of change in Bolivia reveal the deep weakness of the internal opposition, which seeks to gain from outside the country what it has not yet been able to gain from within.

The interventionist plan of the United States is obvious. There is no reason why U.S. imperialism would not activate plans and measures to meddle in Bolivia’s internal affairs, just as it has done against all the progressive and leftist governments of Latin America.

It started with the weakest, such as Honduras and Paraguay, then it carried out a new type of coups, that they applied against the strongest; Brazil, where there was a coup in two stages. The first was a parliamentary coup against Dilma Rousseff, and the second, a judicial coup against Lula.  Against others, whose common trait is that they have carried out more profound changes through their Constituent Assemblies, as in the cases of Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. It failed in its attempt to overthrow them through violence, although in the case of Ecuador, without Rafael Correa, it has so far successfully activated a passive regression with Lenin Moreno as president.

In fact, as the Consensus of Our America, approved by the XXIII Meeting of the Sao Paulo Forum that took place in Managua in 2017 and ratified at the XXIV Meeting of the same forum in Havana in July of this year,  the left has only been defeated by the electoral means in Argentina. In the rest, as noted above, it did so by non-democratic means, as it continues to try against Venezuela.

The counter-revolutionary and restorative offensive began during the Obama administration and continues, in a more perverse way, with the government of Donald Trump, who is trying to prevent the United States from ceasing to be the world hegemony and obviously to not lose control of Latin America. In fact, to be more precise, it seeks to re-establish its domination and hegemony in that part of the planet that, according to the Monroe doctrine, is considered its “backyard”. The fact that countries such as Bolivia, Cuba, Venezuela and others have been the main forgers of innovative criteria for Latin American integration and unity through ALBA, UNASUR and CELAC is something that the United States is not willing to tolerate.

This conservative restoration project is encountering active resistance, to a greater or lesser degree, from the revolutionary processes of Cuba -which Evo Morales described in Havana as the mother of all revolutions-, Venezuela and Bolivia, but also from El Salvador. To this list Mexico must be added, which starting in December will be governed by Manuel López Obrador, who won a historic electoral victory at the beginning of July.

Well, Bolivia is no exception. From ideological reasons to geopolitical factors, the United States is working to end governments of countries where revolutions are taking place in the context and conditions of the 21st century. It has already taken care of almost all of the progressive governments, with only Uruguay and El Salvador left. And Bolivia, we reiterate, is no exception.

Against the process of change, led by indigenous leader Evo Morales, all actions of oligarchic and imperial destabilization have been deployed from the beginning. Without mistake we can observe three huge attempts to interrupt the deepest political process in the entire history of this country located in the heart of South America.

The first attempt to overthrow Morales came early in the 2006-2009 period.  Concerned about a government that from the outset nationalized oil, recovered natural resources and companies for the State, convened a Constituent Assembly, began to exercise State sovereignty in all fields, committed to the multilateral nature of international relations and promoted, together with other countries in the region, innovative mechanisms of political integration and coordination (Alba and Unasur), the United States maintained its conspiracy machinery. To do this, it used the DEA – which was dedicated to political espionage with the CIA – and installed the capacity within its embassy in La Paz to organize and promote the plans for territorial divisions, which was the concrete way in which the leftist government was to be overthrown.

The coup attempt was defeated by the capacity of the government and social movements to mobilize its base rather than by the institutional actions of their police and the armed forces. The effect of that defeat turned out to be hard on the United States; Ambassador Philip Golberg was expelled and so was the DEA. Months later, already weakened, the Bolivian far-right would suffer another defeat when a terrorist cell was dismantled, with foreign members whose plans included the assassination of President Evo Morales.

The second attempt was carried out between December 2015 and February 2016. Faced with the government project to modify article 168 of the Political Constitution of the State by referendum that would enable Evo Morales-Álvaro García Linera to run in the 2019 elections, a political-media conspiracy activated by the United States through Carlos Valverde – former national intelligence director of the Paz Zamora government (1989-1993) and a permanent link with the United States, as confirmed by the WikiLeaks – succeeded in breaking the emotional bond of a percentage of the population that had always voted for Morales (2005, 2009 and 2014).  The Bolivian president denounced the day and hour when Chargé d’Affaires Peter Brennan and Valverde had met in Santa Cruz to fine-tune the plan that called into question the moral authority of the top leader of the Bolivian revolution. Several mistakes made in an effort to clarify the denunciation – which ultimately turned out to be false – contributed to the confusion and facilitated the electoral setback for the ruling party.

But the U.S. and the right did not fully achieve what they wanted. The narrow margin by which the YES lost, preventing stopping the calls for Morales to resign. However, this was the first time that the opposition parties had penetrated into the so-called “citizen platforms” and destabilizing actions of a media group, as well as the active social networking movement.

Failing to refute the success of the Bolivian economic model, which for the fourth consecutive time reached the highest growth rate in the region in 2017 and is expected to do the same thing this year through good management. This comes despite facing problems including the drop in the prices of raw materials.

Currently the United States and the Bolivian right are deploying their third major attempt to reverse the Bolivian revolution. The reason used this time is the defense of the result of the referendum of February 21, 2016 that would disallow Evo from running in the 2019 elections. The underlying reason is to interrupt the continuity of the process of change. The tools being used are “citizens’ platforms”, being financially supported by opposition parties and US agencies such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and others. There is also evidence that right wing European organizations are involved.

This third major destabilizing attempt is also on its way to structuring an international front of interference, through the OAS and the IACHR, the U.S. government and Congress.  That is why it is no coincidence that at the end of November last year, the Trump administration and Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen voted against the constitutional amendment that, on the basis of the Constitution and the American Convention, authorizes all elected authorities, national and sub-national, to run for indefinite reelection.  OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, an active militant against the Venezuelan revolution and all leftist governments, has also spoken out against the Bolivian Constitutional and Plurinational Tribunal

The drafting of a report by the Vienna Commission at the request of the OAS, which states that re-election is not a human right, is one of the conditions the Bolivian right is pushing.

What is striking is that since 2006, this is the first time the State Department has issued a statement urging Morales to withdraw his candidacy in 2019. “The people of Bolivia have spoken out. The United States supports them and urges the current Bolivian government to respect the outcome of these referendums,” the Trump administration went on to say there has been a “step backwards in Bolivian democracy.”

Twice the arch right Republican Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen has stated that the United States should not remain silent and should “send a clear message of support to the Bolivian people“.

It is clear that the pronouncement of the U.S. State Department, the positions of the OAS Secretary General and the movement in the U.S. Congress undoubtedly represents an interventionist action plan against the process of change. This is just beginning.

Original Source: Cuba Debate.

http://www.cubadebate.cu/opinion/2018/08/01/eeuu-despliega-su-tercer-gran-intento-desestabilizador-contra-evo/#.W2eRkFVKiUl

FURTHER READING:

Evo Morales Rejects Militarization of Bolivia-Argentina Border: “On August 17, the Argentine Government set up a military base in the border city of La Quiaca, near Bolivia, framed in the plan for a reform of the Armed Forces.” [Source: TeleSUR]

 

The NGOisation of Nicaragua

Ymgyrch Cefnogi Nicaragua Cymru – Wales Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign

August 6, 2018

 

A woman sweeps the Cuba Plaza backdropped by a mural depicting Cuba’s former President Fidel Castro and Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega, in Managua, Nicaragua. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

It looks like the worst of the violence in Nicaragua is over. It would seem that the self-declared aim of the opposition – to remove Daniel Ortega from power – has failed, at least for now. Though it is likely that there will be sporadic outbreaks of further violence, both sides will now examine the reasons why protests over pensions turned into violent confrontation which led to 300 dead, and what looks like a soft coup (see here for an on the spot account by a US human rights activist) .

After the initial protests and deaths, the opposition coalesced around the Alianza Civica. Many of the players in this unlikely alliance came from the business sector (previously happy to sit down with the Sandindistas); civil society; and students. Some of the organisations were directly funded by the National Endowment for Democracy. Others had decided the wind was now blowing against the Ortega Presidency, and it was time to jump ship. All were held together by the ‘mediation’ of the Catholic Church. Ironically, the church could be said to have sown the seeds of a lot of the discontent with the Sandinista government when they manoeuvred to get rid of the right to abortion three weeks before the Presidential election in 2006, which the FSLN won after 16 years out of power.

Contradictions in the Nicaraguan opposition

If you want to find out what the opposition hoped for, you can do no worse than read this by Azahálea Solís (who was part of the National Dialogue), written shortly after the National Dialogue talks broke down at the end of May. The reality is this was the high point in the opposition to the Ortega government, with a single demand for him to step down with elections to follow quickly.

This was explicit from the beginning. Miami-born student leader Lesther Aleman received widespread praise from some sections of the Nicaraguan and international press when he told Daniel Ortega in the first Dialogue meeting: “This is not a dialogue table, it is a table to negotiate your departure, and you know it very well because it is the people who have requested it!… Surrender before the entire population!”

By the end of the third meeting at the end of May opposition organisations were actively encouraging a military coup. On June 1 electoral observation organisation Etica y Transparencia called on “the corresponding authorities to ensure the appearance in the courts of these two (Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo) thus-far alleged criminals” and on the Army to “ensure implementation of the prompt and necessary arrests, as well as  a fair trial.” Etica y Transparenica have long received National Endowment for Democracy funding through the National Democratic Institute. In 2012 one of EyT’s leading lights made the jump in the other direction after 11 years with Etica y Transparencia. Abril Perez became a Reagan-Fascell Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, where she still works today.

Seen from two months on, it’s easy to see that if the opposition had not obsessed with removing Ortega here and now via a soft coup, instead of making changes to the electoral system and timetable (which was already being discussed with the Organisation of American States), then they would now be in a strong position. The OAS said that electoral reform proposals would be presented to the government in January 2019.

Instead, the Alianza went down the road of more road blocks, more confrontation, more economic pain. Or what Michael Healy, one of the business leaders in the National Dialogue, stated: “We are willing to pay the price [of continued street conflict] to see Ortega leave.” The reality was, of course, it wasn’t Healy and his fellow members of the Alianza who were paying the price on the streets. Their position is comprehensively taken apart here, describing the contradictions which existed within the Alianza.

Contradictions at home

Those same contradictions exist with those who having been supporting the opposition outside of Nicaragua – Wales and the UK included. At first glance their criticism of the FSLN governments since 2007 comes from the left. Ortega has betrayed Sandinismo, with Nicaragua’s neo-liberal ‘navigation of capitalist waters’ (as one journalist described it to us in February). It is curious then to see SOSNicaraguaUK re-tweeting messages from Florida Republican Congress members, some of the most reactionary in the US. Stranger still to see them re-tweeting Trump Vice President Mike Pence, who’s politics are straight out of The Handmaid’s Tale. The VP for Gilead has called for the removal of a string of governments in Latin America.

Many of the opposition supporters in the UK have had long relationships with Nicaraguan NGOs. Many of the NGOs sprung up after the chaos that engulfed Nicaragua when the revolution ended in 1990. The huge experiment in participatory democracy in 1980s Nicaragua cleaved into two halves – a ‘professional’ NGO sector which attracted foreign funding, and grassroots organisations (‘GROs’, like the co-operatives, unions and the Movimiento Comunal) which were left to themselves. Their fates couldn’t have been more different. From 1990 to 2005 NGO numbers grew from 300 to 2,000, and their funding grew from $90 million in 2000 to $289 million in 2005. GROs fared less well. Trade union membership fell from 22% in 1989 to less than 8% in 2008. The number of co-operatives fell from 3,800 to 400 in 1999 (see here for an excellent analysis of the NGOisation of Nicaragua). The success of the NGOs were due to neo-liberal programmes emphasising the sector over governments, and many of the brigadistas during the 80s moving into positions within aid and funding agencies, and channelling funds to ‘trusted partners’ in Nicaragua.

To a great extent this has been reversed since the FSLN regained power in 2007. Trade unions membership has grown considerably, and the number of co-operatives has passed 4,500. At the same time the funding of NGOs in Nicaragua has been squeezed, as donor countries have either chosen to prioritise other regions, or have refused to support an Ortega-led Nicaragua.

Accountable to whom?

What has all this got to do with the unrest? Many of Nicaragua’s NGOs have thrown in their lot with the opposition. Many of the grassroots organisations – like the ATC, the Co-operative sector, and the Movimiento Comunal – have continued to call for support for the National Dialogue. Unlike the trade unions, these three have no formal link with the FSLN. On many occasions they have challenged the government on their policies. But they still were quick to support the dialogue.

The difference between the NGOs and GROs is striking for a very important reason, one which was highlighted by the research above. The grassroots organisations are constituted from the ground up, accountable to their members, and speak on their behalf. The NGOs have no formal accountability to their beneficiaries (they rarely have members), and are more accountable to their donors than Nicaraguans. As we have noted elsewhere, many of the most vocal organisations in the opposition have received over $4 million from the National Endowment for Democracy over the past four years. Even more striking, USAID pumped $31 million into Nicaragua last year.

What is puzzling is that many of the supporters of SOSNicaraguaUK know this. Many have visited Nicaragua for decades, have long lasting friendships within the NGOs, but have also worked with the grassroots organisations.

So why have they decided to privilege the viewpoint of the NGO sector, whilst ignoring independent organisations in Nicaragua which are democratic and bottom-up, and who call for a National Dialogue as the best way to avoid further bloodshed in the country? Here are some of the views from Nicaragua they don’t share.

Extract from Statement by ATC, May 17 (Association de Trabajadores del Campo has 52,000 members, and is a member of Via Campesina)

Historically, the ATC has been a participant in the Sandinista struggle. In truth, we have not felt consulted or represented by the current FSLN government. The current coup attempt makes use of these historical contradictions and is trying to co-opt the symbols, slogans, poems and songs of Nicaragua’s Sandinista Revolution, since of course the rightwing has none of its own. However we may feel about Daniel Ortega, the ATC would never contribute to making chaos and sowing violence in order to force the collapse of the democratically elected government in order to install a more docile, Washington-friendly neoliberal government. There are clearly real frustrations in sectors of the
population, especially youth, and if these sectors are unable to find popular organizing processes, they will end up being the cannon fodder for a war, which would be the worst possible situation for the Nicaraguan people.

Extract from statement by SOPPEXCCA, July 12 (SOPPEXCCA is a second tier co-operative with 15 co-operatives made up of 650 families. Similar statements have been issued by the co-operative sector body CONACOOP).

‘The UCA SOPPEXCCA, as an entity of organised small producers, promotes a culture of peace, harmony, respect for the law and democratic participation.

We therefore give our support to peaceful solutions and call for an end to the culture of violence generated in our country owing to the events that we are experiencing and which affect us both individually and collectively, since the peace that we enjoyed in our Nicaragua disappeared in the most abrupt and tempestuous fashion.

We feel the grief of many Nicaraguan families who have lost loved ones, tranquillity and have to face up to the consequences.

We, as Nicaraguans, will also face consequences as it is evident that there will be an economic slowdown that will affect the majority of our people, especially the poorest families, the majority.

Sadly, many dreams are being left behind as we wait for the shining light of peace to emerge again; reconciliation and work will be our standard bearers as we endeavour to lift our country out of the poverty levels we find ourselves in.

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