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The International Campaign to Destabilize Bolivia

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

boliviaconamaqrehazamodificacionoderogaciondelaleydeprotecciondeltipnis

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.

WATCH: Our Brand Is Crisis | The Buying of Bolivia

Our Brand Is Crisis is a 2005 documentary film by Rachel Boynton on American political campaign marketing tactics by Greenberg Carville Shrum (GCS) in the 2002 Bolivian presidential election. The election saw Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada elected President of Bolivia ahead of Evo Morales.

“For decades, U.S. strategists-for-hire have been quietly molding the opinions of voters and the messages of candidates in elections around the world. They have worked for presidential candidates on every continent (in Britain, Israel, India, Korea, South Africa, Venezuela, Brazil, to name a few…).

Without the noise of tanks or troops, these Americans have been spreading our brand of democracy from the Middle East to the middle of the South American jungle. OUR BRAND IS CRISIS is an astounding look at one of their campaigns and its earth-shattering aftermath.

With flabbergasting access to think sessions, media training and the making of smear campaigns, we watch how the consultants’ marketing strategies shape the relationship between a leader and his people. And we see a shocking example of how the all-American art of branding can affect the “spreading of democracy” overseas.”

How Oppositionist Organizations Act Worldwide – From Egypt to Venezuela

The American Revolution

The American Revolution (June 18, 2012)  | Written by Natalia Viana of Pública | Republished in English on the website  In Serbia by Vladimir Stoiljkovic on  Nov 24, 2013.

[*This article has been translated by a volunteer translator. Read the original article in Portuguese here. ]

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In one of the Wikileaks leakage – in which Pública (not-for-profit investigative journalism center in Brazil, founded by a team of women journalists) had access – shows the founder of this organization communicating often with analysts from Stratfor, an organization that mixes journalism, political analysis and espionage methods to sell “intel analysis” to clients such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Coca-Cola and Dow Chemical – who monitored environmentalists’ activities who opposed them – as well as U.S. Navy.

U.S. Turning into Latin America’s Backyard

Strategic Culture Foundation Feb 2, 2014 by Nil NIKANDROV

maduro  President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro speaks during the second Summit of The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), in Havana, Cuba, on Jan. 29, 2014. The CELAC has declared the region a nuclear-free zone, Cuban leader Raul Castro announced Wednesday on the final day of the summit in Havana. (Xinhua/AVN)

The second summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) January 28-29 aroused great interest, first and foremost because this organization of Western Hemisphere countries does not include the U.S. or Canada. The Community was created after multiple attempts by countries in the region to democratize the Organization of American States (OAS), which is under the strict control of the U.S. and has more than once been used for repressive purposes against regimes undesirable to Washington. Attempts by the Bush and Obama administrations to use the OAS to «finish off the Castro regime», «neutralize» Hugo Chavez, etc. totally compromised this previously reliable tool of the Empire. It was Chavez who in the last years of his life worked on reforming regional organizations and creating counterweights to the United States in the Western Hemisphere. In accomplishing this complex task he was assisted by Argentinian leader Nestor Kirchner, Brazil’s Inacio Lula da Silva, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, Bolivia’s Evo Morales and other statesmen of Latin America. The first CELAC forum, in which 33 countries participated, took place in Caracas in December 2011, and Chavez, in a speech at its opening, plainly declared that this political alliance was being created in order to «become the most influential center of power in the 21st century». He was supported by many presidents. Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega spoke the most decisively, stating that the existence of CELAC is «the death sentence for the Monroe Doctrine». The State Department declared its position with regard to CELAC in 2011 as well, stating that it would continue «to work through the OAS as the preeminent multilateral organization speaking for the hemisphere». Washington is trying not to permit the formation of competing centers of power in the region. It is using all the means at its disposal and focusing on the tried and true strategy of «divide and conquer». There is a «fifth column» of conservative presidents who serve the interests of the oligarchs and monopolies and, keeping their own personal interests in mind, follow in the wake of Washington. When needed, these U.S. allies can be used to block any decision of CELAC, considering the principle of unanimity set down in the founding documents. Raul Castro, president of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers of Cuba, became the president of CELAC in 2013. When taking the reins from his predecessor, Chile’s Sebastian Pinera, Castro stated that he would work for the good of peace, justice, development and mutual understanding between all the peoples of the Latin American continent. «We will act in full accordance with the norms of international law, the Charter of the UN and the basic principles of interstate relations», said Castro. The Cubans have worked fruitfully to prepare around thirty documents for the summit in Havana. Of great significance for the strengthening of CELAC’s authority is a declaration affirming that Latin America and the Caribbean Basin remain a zone free from nuclear weapons. Of great significance for the strengthening of CELAC’s authority is a declaration affirming that Latin America and the Caribbean Basin remain a zone free from nuclear weapons.This document was adopted in addition to the Treaty of Tlatelolco (1967), which prohibited nuclear weapons in the region. This is because the treaty was being systematically violated by the United States and England, whose atomic submarines would anchor off the coast of the continent fully armed. Information that nuclear warheads are being stockpiled at the English military base at Mount Pleasant on the Maldives, with the agreement of the Pentagon, is also troubling. The 70 U.S. military bases located in the region are a threat to peace as well. Some of them are functioning at full capacity (for example, in Colombia and Honduras), while others have been set aside for the future. The base at Guantanamo, Cuba has long ago become a symbol of the «fascisization» of the United States. The prisoners there, who are being held without due process, are subjected to physical and psychological torture. Many have urged the Obama administration to stop this inhuman practice, but as always, there has been no reaction. It was confirmed at the summit that controversies and conflicts between CELAC member countries would be resolved through negotiations in order to be permanently rid of the use of force in regions where there are old territorial disputes. There were also discussions, traditional for Latin American conventions, of such topics as fighting hunger, poverty, social inequality and drug trafficking. Here there have been positive changes, first of all in the countries of ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America. Solidarity with Cuba and the condemnation of the U.S. economic blockade is another constant topic of Latin American forums. This fundamental position is also set down in the documents of the summit. Several speeches condemned U.S. mass espionage, especially by the NSA. Surveillance was (and is) being conducted of all the countries of the region without exception. Even such seemingly trusted allies as Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica are under the magnifying glass of U.S. intelligence. The necessity of creating an electronic communications system which is well-protected from outside intrusion and a «Latin American Internet» was spoken of in particular by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa. The creation of a China-CELAC forum was approved. The topic of China at the summit testifies to the great success of China’s financial and economic penetration into the region. The scale of Beijing’s work toward undermining U.S. dominance in the Western Hemisphere is stunning. Practically all of the countries on the continent, from Belize to Uruguay and from Mexico to Chile, have thrown open their doors to Chinese capital. More and more frequently the opinion is heard that the U.S. is a colossus with feet of clay. Therefore the stake of both «right» and «left» Latin American governments on China is justified. The Latin Americans are deftly making use of the geopolitical confrontation between the old (decrepit) and new superpowers for their own interests. The discussion at the summit of the possibility of granting Puerto Rico full membership in CELAC also has negative implications for the U.S. This is practically a declaration of the need to grant Puerto Rico independence. Its semi-colonial status as a «free associated state» is a holdover from the past. Patriotic forces in Puerto Rico have been resisting imperial dictates for decades. The support of CELAC gives them additional opportunities to debunk manipulations in the propaganda war trying to prove that the citizens of Puerto Rico «en masse» are in favor of turning their country into yet another U.S. state. The Obama administration organized a counter-summit in Miami using ultra-right activists in order to distract attention from what is going on at the Havana forum.The Obama administration organized a counter-summit in Miami using ultra-right activists in order to distract attention from what is going on at the Havana forum. The initiators of the event were the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the Center for the Opening and Development of Latin America (CADAL), organizations created by the CIA for conducting subversive operations. In this particular case, people who have long ago been revealed to be terrorists and paid agents of U.S. intelligence are doing the Empire’s dirty work, attacking Cuba and Latin American «populists». Among them is Carlos Alberto Montaner, who calls himself a «publicist». His career as a «bombista» began in the first years of the Cuban revolution. Many people in movie theaters and shopping centers in Havana have died by his hand. Ramon Saul Sanchez is no different; he is a former member of the terrorist group Omega 7 who organized a bombing at the Cuban consulate in Montreal and threw explosives into the car of the Cuban Ambassador to the UN. Julio Rodriguez Salas, a former Venezuelan military officer and an agent of U.S. military intelligence, can boast of similar feats; he participated in the plot to overthrow Chavez in April 2002. 

US Halts Economic Aid to Bolivia Citing Expulsion of USAID

Antiimperialismo

 Progreso Weekly

Feb 1, 2014

The United States has halted all economic aid to Bolivia, because that country expelled representatives of the USAID last May, the Bolivian press reported.

USAID stands for U.S. Agency for International Development.

In 2006, when President Evo Morales took office, that aid amounted to about $40 million a year for programs of health care, environmental protection and economic development. That amount has since declined.

“Our economic support has always been delivered through the USAID, and, at the request of the Bolivian government, that agency no longer functions here, so economic support is no longer an issue between the two countries,” said Larry Memmott, U.S. chargé d’affaires in La Paz, interviewed by the radio station Fides on Thursday (Jan. 30).

Bolivia expelled the USAID on Sept. 30, 2013, almost five months after Morales accused that agency of having funded nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and opposition groups. The USAID established its presence in Bolivia in 1964.

President Evo Morales on Friday said that Bolivia “does not need charity” and pointed out that the U.S. had vowed to contribute to Bolivia’s fight against drug trafficking, according to the Bolivian press.

“If we talk about the struggle against drug trafficking, because of international agreements, [the U.S.] has the obligation, within its shared responsibility to contribute to the struggle against drug trafficking. That’s not aid,” he said.

How the West Manufactures “Opposition Movements”

WKOG admin.: Feb 6, 2014. Due to conflicting assessments of the complicated political situation in Thailand, we would like to share with our readers alternative analysis that differ, or are in stark contrast from, the authors assessment in the article below.We welcome your comments.

Dec 3, 2013: THE ROVING EYE, Thai protests turn a darker color, by Pepe Escobar

Feb 5, 2014: Thailand: The People Have Spoken – No Confidence in Regime or Systemby Tony Cartelli

From Egypt, Ukraine, the Turkish-Syrian border, Cuba and Thailand

Counterpunch

FEBRUARY 03, 2014

by ANDRE VLTCHEK

Government buildings are being trashed, ransacked. It is happening in Kiev and Bangkok, and in both cities, the governments appear to be toothless, too scared to intervene.

What is going on? Are popularly elected administrations all over the world becoming irrelevant; as the Western regime creates and then supports thuggish ‘opposition movements’ designed to destabilize any state that stands in the way of its desire to fully control the planet?

President Morales: Bolivia Won’t Tolerate Conspiracy by NGOs

Prensa Latina, La Paz,

Dec 2, 2013

evo_morales_copia1

Evo Morales ends 2013 with an approval rating of 60 percent

President Evo Morales said today that as a matter of dignity, his government will not allow any conspiracies by nongovernmental organizations accredited here. “As a matter of dignity of the Bolivian people, we will not allow any NGO to use its funds to plot against democracy and the national government,” said Morales.

Morales told journalists that the Bolivian people have the constitutional right to do politics, but not to plot with foreign capital.

“But some ONGs come here to conspire, funding opponents who come and treat us as if we were uneducated, looking down on us as any master or empire would do, and this is will not be permitted,” he said.

Morales also described as positive the work carried out by some NGOs that contribute and coordinate their efforts with municipal governments and mayors to promote social development. That kind of cooperation is guaranteed by his government, he said.

On Friday, Minister of the Presidency Juan Ramon Quintana announced the expulsion of the Danish NGO Ibis for promoting division within Bolivian social organizations.

“Ibis must leave Bolivia because we were able to prove its political interference and intolerable behaviour aimed at influencing social organizations to divide them and trigger clashes among the people,” Quintana said at a press conference.