BY JACK CHANG | Knight Ridder News Service
LA PAZ, Bolivia - Newly inaugurated Bolivian President Evo Morales began his historic, five-year term Monday by meeting with leaders from Cuba and Venezuela, two of Latin America's harshest critics of U.S. policy, before swearing in a Cabinet largely made up of political radicals.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
I am sitting in an Internet cafe just beside Plaza San Francisco - in a capital city gripped by ¨Evo Mania¨. Evo being Evo Morales, who two hours ago was sworn in as Bolivia´s president.
It is ironic. Back in the days of ¨Oh my God, the sky will fall if Evo becomes president,¨ the fearful proclaimed that Bolivia would become isolated, a nation shunned. Tell that to a city so full of heads of state and luminaries that people like the literary giant Eduardo Galleano and former Mexico prsidential candidate Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas get barely noticed.
Bolivian soldiers who captured and assassinated the Cuban-Argentinian guerrillero Ernesto Che Guevara in 1967 were declared Distinguished for Service to their Country and cannot be retired from the public offices they occupy, according to official sources in Bolivia.
The Democracy Center On-Line - January 19, 2006
The Cochabamba water revolt – which began exactly six years ago this month – will end this morning when Bechtel, one of the world’s most powerful corporations, formally abandons its legal effort to take $50 million from the Bolivian people. Bechtel made that demand before a secretive trade court operated by the World Bank, the same institution that coerced Bolivia to privatize the water to begin with. Faced with protests, barrages of e-mails, visits to their homes, and years of damaging press, Bechtel executives finally decided to surrender, walking away with a token payment equal to thirty cents. That retreat sets a huge global precedent.
northern radicals are quick to judge evo morales.
of course there are two ways to paint Evo. i won't defend him. i barely know him but...
...he has made a point of making his first foreign visits since the election to castro and then chavez (who morales called 'the commanders of the freedom forces of the Americas'). he says he is part of a growing socialist alliance of good against empire. maybe he is all talk but that's what they said about chavez. this week, chavez gave exxon an ultimatum affecting their ability to continue doing business in venezuela. castro gives him the nod and says things are changing in the south.
Once again in Bolivia we have a popular leader elected to power. Once again we have an army of uncritical left cheerleaders, ignorant of significant facts and policy changes over the last 5 years....the Left will continue to respond to symbols, mythical histories, political rhetoric and gestures and not to programmatic substance, historical experiences and concrete socio-economic policies.
Even the prospect of the election of socialist peasant leader Evo Morales as Bolivia's next president disturbed Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Charles Shapiro. "It would not be welcome news in Washington to see the increasingly belligerent Cuban-Venezuelan combo become a trio," he emailed on October 21, 2005 to the Miami Herald's Andres Oppenheimer...Thomas A. Shannon, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, still defines Chavez as "a threat to regional stability," because he makes coherent anti-free trade arguments, offers a socialist vision and his close association with Fidel Castro...In the face of dire Latin American poverty, worsened by US policies, Shapiro and Shannon simply repeat imperial banalities. It's as if history grips their minds in an idiotic vise and condemns the United States to continue playing an outworn imperial role on a new world stage.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the implementation of Decree 21060, which heralded the dawning of the era of neoliberal “free market” policies in Bolivia. According to Jim Schultz, executive director of the Democracy Center, a human rights investigative organisation based in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and San Francisco, California, this South American country of 8.8 million people “has been essentially the lab rat for the politics of the International Monetary Fund [IMF] and the World Bank” for the last 20 years.
El Deber | 07/11/05
The installation of a military base on Paraguayan territory, some 200 kilometers from the border of Bolivia, created worry yesterday in the Legislature, to the point that a commission of the Lower House announced an investigation.
The Director of the CBO (Central Workers Union) Luis Choquetijlla, denounced that "the United States has threatened us with a military intervention through friendly countries", with the [aim] of controlling the Natural Gas riches of Bolivia.
No one can talk about the crisis in Bolivia, the site of continuous
waves of mobilisation, road blockades and general strikes that have
thrown out two presidents already, without mentioning Evo Morales. No
matter what the viewpoint of the analyst, Morales and his party, the
Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), are seen as key to understanding the
Since May 17th, tens of thousands of Bolivians have flooded the streets, blockaded highways, and laid seige to Congress, demanding the nationalization of hydrocarbons, successfully forcing the resignation of sellout President Carlos Mesa, and calling for Congress to be replaced by a People's Assembly.
Of course, you would never hear the voices of these groups in the corporate media, which has been falling all over itself to cover the reactions of the transnational corporations that are slated to lose money if Bolivia's resources fall into the hands of Bolivia's people.
And that's why you should support Bolivia Indymedia--they are amplifying the voices of the social movements.
"'While the poor don't have food, the rich won't have peace,' reads the graffiti scrawled onto the wall adjoining the dual carriageway that sweeps breathlessly from one of the world's highest airports into Bolivia's Andean city of La Paz....Suddenly the traditional centre of power has been full of those excluded from power for centuries - indigenous women with swirling skirts and bowler hats, Aymara men in deep-red ponchos with mouths bulging with coca leaves, rural farmers with weathered faces shaded by faded baseball caps, miners with sticks of dynamite ready to storm the Congress building."
"On May 23, some 5,000 Bolivian coca growers (cocaleros) from the
Chapare region of Cochabamba department arrived in La Paz after a
four-day, 200-kilometer march from the town of Caracollo in Oruro
department to press for national control of oil and natural gas
resources and the convening of a constitutional assembly. The
Federation of Neighborhood Committees (FEJUVE) in the neighboring
city of El Alto began an open-ended general strike the same day.
As the cocaleros passed through El Alto into La Paz, El Alto's
oganized indigenous majority chanted demands for 'not 30%, nor
50% royalties--nationalization!' Bolivia's popular movements are
pressing for full nationalization of hydrocarbons resources,
while Movement to Socialism (MAS) leader Evo Morales, who headed
the cocalero march, has reaped harsh criticism for his compromise
proposal that the government increase gas royalties to 50%."
"Almost four decades after Che's murder, Bolivia's poor and indigenous masses are keeping his revolutionary legacy very much alive as they fight to secure their country's resources and future.
Left with no more cards to play, on May 17, Bolivian President Carlos Mesa succumbed to passing the country's controversial new gas bill. As the country enters into a new pre-insurrectional stage -- with many of Bolivia's poor once again hitting the streets, clamouring for the nationalisation of gas -- many believe it will be game over for Mesa."
"On May 6, President Carlos Mesa caught Bolivia off-guard. He announced that as a result of continual protests and growing blockades, he was no longer willing to, 'govern based on the crazy things different sectors demand,' and planned to submit his resignation to Congress the next day."
The right-wing Bolivian congress has since rejected the resignation in an effort to rally support for Mesa. Opposition groups are digging in, continuing blockades and building alliances.