Sunday, November 30, 2008
From the perspective of the right-wing opposition in Bolivia, as for Bush and Rice, the principal threat to human rights and dignity is not poverty or conditions of slavery, but the “tyranny of centralism” and restrictions on business opportunity. In order to promote right-wing democracy in Bolivia, the Bush administration needed to support and strengthen forces in Bolivia opposed to Morales. This was readily feasible, because of a persistent and deepening struggle in Bolivia between two forces, both of which continue to grow stronger.
One is the indigenous people, dozens of distinct ethnic groups, of which the largest by far are the Quechua and the Aymara; together indigenous people comprise nearly two-thirds of the nation’s population. The revolution of 1952, under Victor Paz Estenssoro, enfranchised these Indians and provided them for the first time with opportunities for education as well as political expression. They think of democracy in Lincoln’s terms — as government of the people, by the people and for the people. The government of Morales is a direct beneficiary of this initiative
Kudos to you, Mr. Garver. I'll be nominating you for an end-of-year "Achiever" award!
Friday, November 28, 2008
Now, 400 years after the first Thanksgiving, even in these difficult times, there's much to be thankful for. As a U.S. citizen, I'm thankful for being lucky enough to come from a country that, even though I harbor a host of plaints against it, provided me with the circumstances (educational, societal, economic) that allow me to explore and learn about our neighbors to the south. (Check out a chart that Otto unearthed about U.S. poverty--there's nothing easy about being poor, no matter where you live. But being poor in the States is different than being poor most everywhere wlse.) I'm thankful to have a voice, as small and shrill as it is, to critique, condemn, and call out the powers-that-be, whether foreign or domestic. I'm thankful that the past eight years is nearly over, and I'm thankful that my next adversary in the Oval Office, Barack Obama, isn't as embarrassing as the last.
I'm also thankful for my family and friends. I give thanks to the lobsters and the cows that produced such a great meal in New Jersey yesterday. (And I'm thankful that more and more people are choosing to respect the animals they eat by thinking about the food industry and not shying away from its brutal realities. Check out the Brooklynite's turkey-day post, and be sure to click on the link to the turkey-slaughter slide show--it's a bit gruesome, but did you think that turkey meat's grown in the lab?)
And I am really thankful that for the past seven months I've enjoyed the present-day generosity of the people of Latin America, all of them--the Spanish, the mestizos, the indigenous, and the rest (even those jerks that jumped me in Lima weren't as scary as some of the folks I've run into in Brooklyn).
I'm also really thankful that I'll be heading back in a little over a month, to observe a political process that continues to unwind in that crazy landlocked Andean country, Bolivia. Thank you, people of Bolivia. I've supported some of you, I've scorned quite a few of you, too. I'm looking forward to continuing this conversation next year!
Lastly, thanks to all you that have read this blog. It's nice to have a voice. It's even nicer to be listened to.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Questioned on the possible participation in the events of the then-prefect of Pando, Leopoldo Fernandez, Matarollo responded that it wasn't yet the time to comment on that, although last week he declared that he did not have the slightest doubt of the responsibility of local authorities.
"Local authorities" means "prefect" in my book.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Al Giordano spells out another reason why we don't want a Clinton in charge of foreign policy:
For more than a week prior to the massacre, non-governmental organizations in Chiapas, Mexico, had warned the US State Department of the impending atrocity. But the deal had already been struck with the Mexican regime that in exchange for its acquiescence to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the US would turn a blind eye to all matters of human rights in Mexican territory...
Thursday, November 20, 2008
"Assassins, get out, fake Indigenous, sold outs, take that custom off, bastards, piece of shit, get out, Evo faggot son of a bitch, he is a faggot…"
I'm sickened, and I hope you are too.
H/T to El Duderino.
(Aside to Bina: Yes, I think a letter is in order.)
"We are here to denounce what Evo is doing to our democracy, to our freedom of the press, to our constitution, to our human rights," Elena Abolnik, a Bolivian immigrant and activist from Northern Virginia.
An activist? Really? Well, sure, just like the KKK was (still is?) an activist organization. Ms. Abolnik is vice president of the Virginia chapter of Pro–Santa Cruz Committee, the cryptofascist organization run by wealthy landowner and arch-enemy of Evo and Bolivian law and order Branko Marinkovic. The UJC--the brownshirts of the opposition--goes hand in fist with Ms. Abolnik's committee, a violent organization that is only happy to attack the majority indigenous population of Bolivia.
I think it is only right and proper for news media here and elsewhere to listen and report opposition viewpoints, but a simple Google search quickly turned up Ms. Abolnik's association with the Pro–Santa Cruz Committee. Responsible journalism would, at the very least, require that this relationship be disclosed.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Our proposal is very clear: There is not going to be zero coca leaves growing; therefore, we have to actually control the coca growing. We have a very small portion [of coca cultivation] per family--it's 40 meters by 40 meters. It's not very big per family, it's very small. This is like the back yard of someone's house. And we have self-control, social control. Even though we have problems, this is how we fight it. We will fight against drug trafficking with or without the help of the United States, because this is an obligation my government has to fight against the evil that it causes to human beings.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
McALLEN, Texas — A South Texas grand jury has indicted Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on state charges related to the alleged abuse of prisoners in Willacy County's federal detention centers.
I bet I know who's getting a pardon for Christmas . . .
Monday, November 17, 2008
Scary stuff--it doesn't bode to0 well for the Obama administration's relationship with South America (the lefty countries, anyway, which is most of them). Also scary is the talk of Hillary Clinton getting the secretary of state position (which I blogged about last week). Ken Silverstein, over at Harper's, lists five reasons why she'd be a bad choice. Reason No. 2--that Obama would find it politically impossible to fire her--is something I didn't realize, and it should immediately disqualify her. (I'm betting it does.) But just take a look at reason No. 5!
And the strongest strike of all against Hillary as secretary of state… look at who endorses her.
Click on the link, reel back in horror.
Friday, November 14, 2008
The Huffington Post today reports that one of the most flaming neo-liberals is under consideration for Secretary of State … Hillary Clinton. During Ms. Clinton’s recent primary Presidential campaign, several Latin Americanists worried about her stance towards the region. Stephen Zunes, in Foreign Policy in Focus, dismissed her world-view as no different from her husbands, or either of his two predecessors.
But over at Narco News' The Field, Al Giordano shoots that down, saying that the rumors originated in the Clinton camp, mostly to interfere in potential SoS Kerry's and Richardson's selection processes (Mex Files endorses Richardson, BTW). Giordano's got a great point, too: Obama's recent demand for disclosure from any potential appointee would throw a cog in the Clintan machine's gears:
The conflicts of interest of former President Bill Clinton and his Clinton Global Initiative - a "charity" with a $208 million dollar surplus, undisclosed donors, many of them foreign - signify that before Senator Clinton could hold the post of Secretary of State, Bill Clinton and Terry McAuliffe would have to disband their own "shadow state department" that is the Clinton Global Initiative....
The real issue here is that the conflict of interest created by the Clinton Global Initiative rules out Senator Clinton for Secretary of State. The Obama job application form is very specific about unearthing potential conflicts by spouses and "family members."
Does anybody really believe that Obama will say to all his job applicants that there's a double standard, one set of requirements for them and another for the Clintons?
Let's pray that Giordano's correct.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
And now here's a video, from my hometown, Minneapolis, which demonstrates what happens when you don't invest in infrastructure. (And remember: Socialism does not work.) R.I.P. those unlucky 13 who died.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
This doesn't bode to well for justice in Bolivia if Goni's lawyers are so chummy with the incoming U.S. president.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Bolivian officials have requested the extradition of former president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, according to the AP. More than 60 people were killed during anti-government demonstrations in 2003.
Goni's always been in good with U.S. powerbrokers, as the 2005 film Our Brand Is Crisis shows. I would welcome, but do not expect, the incoming Obama administration to ship Goni off to Bolivia.
I don't know, though. I thought this guy I met at the ruins of Huaca Pucllana in the Miraflores neighborhood of Lima last year was a pretty cool punk-rock-looking pooch. I think the Obama family should get one. Besides, it's just another thing that would piss off the right wing: a little immigrant dog.
Monday, November 10, 2008
God help us, it's expensive here. But at least the Internet works!
OK, friends, I've been out of the loop for a while, so if any of this is old news please forgive me.
Civic-committee leader Branko Marinkovic, after whining that his human rights were being violated by big bad Evo, has apparently fled the country! The New Statesman has an interview with the president of the Bolivian constituent assembly, Silvia Lazarte. She also drops the bomb that Santa Cruz prefect Ruben Costas is pouting at home:
As a result, [Lazarte] says, several suspects appear to have fled: “Branco Marinkovic, who is a key figure in Santa Cruz politics, apparently is no longer in the country, according to the information we have. Ruben Costas, who is the prefecto [regional governor] of Santa Cruz, apparently left, went to his hacienda and is not at large.” Lazarte does admit though that there are “a few other groups around the place”, such as the Santa Cruz Youth Union, who have been implicated in violence, but as the investigation is ongoing, will not go into further detail.
It's tough being a fascist these days. Not to mention embarrassing.....
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
But I'll be back this weekend, blogging from Brooklyn!
Monday, November 3, 2008
I found a weak Wi-Fi signal in the hills of Cuzco, so I'll be monitoring the election tomorrow all day. Yes, I have my problems with Obama (I would have been more excited with Edwards--until he got caught cheating, that is; what a moron!), but jeesh.... He's so much better than McCain and his idiot V.P. choice.
Now, go vote!
Sunday, November 2, 2008
After Morales’s victory [in which he won a stunning 67% in the August referendum and the opposition lost two prefectures], “the only alternative left for Goldberg was to activate his ‘Plan B’”, aimed at plunging the country into violence, the document claims.
The aim was to either force a reaction from the military that would end with Morales’s resignation, or to justify a potential UN military intervention.
The document stated: “Following the strategy proposed by Goldberg, the prefects implemented a medium term plan to destabilise the government via destruction of public institutions, takeovers, and persistent provocations (including beatings) of the Police and the Army …”
Branco Marinkovic, a large landholder and head of the right-wing Santa Cruz Civic Committee traveled to the US on September 1, where he was convinced “that the [destabilisation] plan is in its final stages and that all stops must be pulled out”.
On his return eight days later, “a wave of violence was unleashed, with the burning of institutions and new acts of aggression against the Army and Police”.
It's important to remember that Evo was getting a lot of guff even from his own side for not acting forcefully enough against the medialuna. Crowds at the referendum victory party in Plaza Murillo, in central La Paz, were urging him to use a "strong hand" in dealing with rebel prefects and departments. Commerce was paralyzed for weeks due to road blocks, and it did look like Evo was twiddling his thumbs while Rome burned. But masterful tactician that he is, he let things play out while the opposition overextended itself--well, they actually slaughtered people in Pando. That, the international outcry over it, and Unasur's ascendancy and support of Evo then destroyed any credibility the oppos once had. Although the events were tragic, kudos to Morales for his patience and cunning in turning the tide of a U.S.-sponsored intervention. Pretty smart for a "dumb Indian," as my friends in Santa Cruz put it so succinctly.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
My friend and fellow Red Hooker (Hookian?) Richard Fleming was featured on PRI's The World, in which he talks about his new book Walking to Guantánamo. Give it a listen. I found it interesting when he addressed Cubans' attitudes toward people from the U.S. as separate from their attitude toward U.S. policy. Something that I found to be true in Bolivia, another country demonized by official U.S. policy.
After you listen, buy the book here or here. (Christmas is coming soon!)
And visit the official website here.