Category Archives: Bolivia

Bolivia accuses US of forced landing of presidential plane

By Peter Symonds 
5 July 2013
The Bolivian government is planning a formal protest to the United Nations over the illegal actions of European countries in forcing the plane of President Evo Morales to make an emergency landing in Austria on Tuesday. The aircraft was brought down on suspicion that National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board.
Morales was returning to Bolivia after an energy summit in Moscow, when Portugal, Italy, Spain and France all denied his plane access to their airspace. An unnamed Austrian official told Associated Press that the plane had requested permission to land in Vienna because there was “no clear indication” that it had enough fuel to continue its flight.
Bolivia’s ambassador to the UN, Sacha Liorenti Soliz, told the media: “The decisions of these countries violated international law. We are already making ready procedures to denounce this to the UN secretary general … We are talking about the president on an official trip, after an official summit, being kidnapped.”
Liorenti bluntly accused the Obama administration of instigating the forced landing. “We have no doubt that it was an order from the White House,” he said. “By no means should a diplomatic plane with the president be diverted from its route and forced to land in another country.”
After initial US denials of any involvement, State Department spokesman Jen Psaki admitted on Wednesday: “We have been in contact with a range of countries that had a chance of having Snowden land or travel through their countries.” But she refused to name the countries, or divulge when the discussions took place.
Washington was unquestionably behind the reckless actions of its European allies, in what was a coordinated effort to force the Bolivian plane to land. The incident demonstrates that the Obama administration will go to any lengths to silence Snowden, who has exposed the NSA’s vast electronic surveillance of the American people and the world’s population.
The US has been engaged in a concerted campaign to force Snowden’s return to the US, where he has been indicted on espionage charges and faces a heavy prison sentence or the death penalty. American officials have been bullying countries not to grant Snowden asylum and they are continuing to press Russia to hand him over. Snowden is reportedly still in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.
Amnesty International director of law and policy, Michael Bochenek, this week condemned the Obama administration’s actions. “The US attempts to pressure governments to block Snowden’s attempts to seek asylum are deplorable,” he stated. “It is his unassailable right, enshrined in international law, to claim asylum and this should not be impeded.”
Bochenek declared that no one should be returned to a country where there was a serious risk of ill-treatment. “We know that others who have been prosecuted for similar acts [in the US] have been held in conditions that not only Amnesty International but UN officials considered cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of international law,” he said. The remarks were an obvious reference to Private Bradley Manning, who allegedly leaked material exposing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Washington’s diplomatic intrigues around the world.
Bochenek added: “It appears that he [Snowden] is being charged by the US government primarily for revealing its—and other governments’—unlawful actions that violate human rights. No one should be charged under the law for disclosing information of human rights violations.”
Bolivian President Morales was eventually allowed to leave Vienna after Austrian authorities determined that Snowden was not on board. He arrived back in La Paz late on Wednesday and was greeted by crowds of cheering supporters. Protests against the actions of the European countries have taken place in Bolivia and Argentina.
Having provoked international outrage over their actions, the European countries involved are seeking to downplay and deny their involvement in the US plot. The Bolivian government has rejected the various excuses and apologies. On his return, President Morales stated: “Some governments apologised, saying it was an error, but this is not an error.”
Bolivia and Venezuela have both received extradition requests from the US for Snowden, which have been rejected. Bolivian authorities described the approach as “strange, illegal and unfounded”, explaining that President Morales did not meet Snowden in Moscow and the whistleblower was not on Bolivian territory.
President Morales hosted a meeting yesterday in Cochabamba of Latin American officials, including the presidents of Ecuador, Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay, and Suriname, which condemned the actions of the US and its European allies, and declared its solidarity with Bolivia.
While certainly expressing, and seeking to capitalise on, the widespread public outrage over Morales’ treatment, these Latin American leaders have been unwilling to jeopardise relations with Washington by offering asylum to Snowden. Morales indicated in Moscow that he would consider an application for asylum, but Bolivian officials claim to have received no request.
A number of countries including France, Germany, Italy and India have already slammed the door on Snowden’s requests for asylum. Russia offered Snowden sanctuary on condition that he cease leaking information that damaged US interests—a condition that the NSA whistleblower turned down.
Moscow is clearly intent on getting Snowden out of the country as quickly as possible. In comments to the media yesterday, Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov declared that “he [Snowden] needs to choose a place to go.” Ryabkov added that Russia “cannot solve anything for him”, and the situation should now be resolved “one way or the other”.
Snowden is in considerable danger for his courageous actions in exposing the criminal activities of US imperialism. Under conditions in which no government is willing to uphold his right to political asylum, his defence must be taken up by workers and youth in the US and around the world. This must include the demand in every country that he be granted immediate sanctuary.
The World Socialist Web Site and Socialist Equality Party are waging a campaign to defend Edward Snowden. For more information and to get involved, click here.

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Bolivia celebrates Day of Indigenous Peoples


Thursday August 9 was the day Bolivia held the International Day of Indigenous Peoples, in compliance with a mandate from the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, which sets Aug. 9 as the date of commemoration.
In this city, La Paz, thwe Bolivian capital, different social organizations carry out activities, particularly in the Plaza San Francisco, where sports people, artists and intellectuals, among others, meet.
The day includes a ritual to Pachamama or Mother Earth, the inauguration of a photo exhibition dedicated to indigenous peoples, and other traditional activities.
In the evening there was a Radial Forum called Media and indigenous peoples of Bolivia.
The MP for the Movement Toward Socialism Jorge Medina celebrated the recognition of indigenous peoples and prepared a presentation that was given to the various Indian nations making up the Multinational State.
Medina, the only Afro-Bolivian legislature, recalled the achievements of indigenous communities after the arrival to power of President Evo Morales, in 2006, and approval of the new State Constitution, which recognizes 36 indigenous nations that are part of the country.
“Hopefully it becomes a reflection on the inclusion of indigenous peoples in the new state model, and an analysis of what still remains to be done for our people,” said Medina.
Source: Prensa Latina
Translation from the Spanish
Olga Selyanina

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The Attempted U.S. Siege of Bolivia

By Patricio Montesinos

July 20, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — THE exacerbation of internal social disputes, tense relations between the governments of Santiago de Chile and La Paz in the context of their maritime disagreement, and press revelations as to U.S. bases possibly being installed on the Paraguayan border with Bolivia are all evidence of a clear Washington plan to besiege this nation.
Recent events related to Bolivia demonstrate that the U.S. government is plotting the overthrow of President Evo Morales, with the aim of derailing the process of integration underway in Latin America, which is contrary to the empire’s hegemonic interests, in the wake of the recent coup d’état against Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo.
The United States believes that Bolivia could now be the weakest link in the chain currently linking a significant group of countries immersed in revolutionary processes and the defense of the sovereignty and independence, and in which nobody wants a repeat of Washington’s former domination in the region.
Political analysts are saying that in this new perverse plot, the U.S. government has the backing of the right-wing government in Chile, which has adopted a harder position against its neighbor Bolivia, and the Paraguayan pro-Federico Franco coup organizers financed by the Pentagon and U.S. secret services.
Press reports a few days ago revealed that an ultra-right deputy implicated in Lugo’s overthrow negotiated the installation of U.S. military bases on the Paraguayan-Bolivian border with the Barack Obama administration.
To date Washington has not reacted in the context of this dangerous news, as is the case when it is engineering destabilizing acts or military aggression anywhere in the world, but it is true that there is no smoke without fire, as the saying goes.
The U.S. conspiracy also includes internal acts of subversion in conjunction with Bolivia’s weakened and discredited traditional right, directly implicated in the recent police mutiny in this country, and in the exacerbated indigenous conflicts in Tipnis, utilized to create an image of chaos and weakening of support for President Morales’ executive.
Naturally, the conservative national press, plus international media such as the CNN network and Spain’s El País, part of the Prisa consortium, are part of the Bolivian destabilization operation.
However, in spite of Washington, which scorns the intelligence of the millenary indigenous culture, Bolivian authorities and the people are fully aware of every move made by their adversaries to turn around the process of change underway in the nation, where serenity and an appropriate response at the right time and in the right place are paramount.
The conspiracies against Bolivia, similar to those instigated in Paraguay and Venezuela and Ecuador, to cite certain countries which are constant U.S. targets, will not to able to achieve their objective because Evo has sufficient popular support to deal another defeat to his enemies.

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Bolivia Has Transformed Itself by Ignoring the Washington Consensus

By breaking with orthodox prescriptions for progress, Evo Morales has helped to forge a new Bolivia centered on ‘living well’
By Luis Hernández Navarro
March 21, 2012 “The Guardian” – – Gabriela Oviedo is a fashion model and TV personality. She is a 28-year-old brunette, almost six feet tall. Born in the Bolivian province of Santa Cruz, she was elected as the national beauty queen in 2003. In 2004, Gabriela took part in the Miss Universe pageant. There she was asked to name one of the biggest misconceptions about her country. In awkward English, she answered: “Um … unfortunately, people that don’t know Bolivia very much think that we are all just Indian people from the west side of the country. It’s La Paz, all the image that we reflect, is that poor people and very short people and Indian people … I’m from the other side of the country, the east side, and it’s not cold, it’s very hot and we are tall and we are white people and we know English.”
Gabriela’s answer, heavy with racism, raised such a wave of outrage in her country that she was forced to give up the contest. Two in every three Bolivians are indigenous people. Her answer, however, was not an isolated occurrence. It reflects the persistence of a white, deeply anti-indigenous Bolivia, which survives today even though deep changes have been introduced, including the approval of anti-racist legislation.
In spite of the force of racial discrimination, on 22 January 2006, the Aymara Indian and cocalero unionist Evo Morales was elected president. Since then, the Bolivian state and society have undergone a profound transformation. The country has been decolonised. Indigenous people hold key cabinet positions in government and also in political institutions, while their standard and quality of life have been notably improved.
In the past six years, Bolivia has become one of the Latin American countries most successful at improving its citizens’ standard of living. Economic indicators such as low unemployment and decreased poverty, as well as better public healthcare and education, are outstanding.
Between 2005 and 2010, the proportion of those in moderate poverty went down from 60% to 49.6%, while extreme poverty fell from 38% to 25%. Likewise, the unemployment rate decreased from 8.4% to 4%. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) points out that Bolivia is the top country in Latin America in terms of transferring resources to its most vulnerable population – 2.5% of its GNP.
According to Alicia Bárcena, executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, “Bolivia is one of the few countries that has reduced inequality … the gap between rich and poor has been hugely narrowed.”
One of the key tools in reducing poverty has been the expansive distribution of economic surplus among the population, through direct cash transfers and bonds in programmes such as Juancito Pinto and Juana Azurduy, the Renta Dignidad, and salary increases. These payments have contributed to increasing the number of children attending school, broadening the coverage of public pensions to alleviate extreme poverty among senior citizens, and delivering subsidies to mothers excluded from social security, so as to reduce children’s mortality and expand pre- and post-natal attention.
Bolivia has been declared an illiteracy-free country. Income redistribution has fuelled a 7% increase in the internal consumption of electricity, purified water and domestic gas among sectors that didn’t have access to those services before.
During 2011, the country’s economy grew at 5.3%, above the Latin American average. It is not an isolated event. The economy has been constantly expanding since 2007, averaging 4.5% a year.
These economic and social successes have been attained following an alternative route to neoliberalism. Evo Morales’s government did the opposite of what the Washington Consensus recommends: it nationalised hydrocarbons, electricity, telecommunications and mining; renegotiated the presence of direct foreign investment in the country; implemented an expansive fiscal policy and closed borders to the free importation of economically strategic products. The state took 34% of the economy under its control.
This exceptional performance was obtained even though remittances decreased, the United States revoked the most-favoured nation status for some Bolivian products, and in spite of a global recession. The oil income is now three times that of 2005. The tax revenues went up. The international currency reserves are up to more than $12bn dollars. The banking savings-and-loans system has been “Bolivian-ised” and the external debt has been reduced. The bid now is that Bolivia will take a “big industrial leap” in the next five years so that it ceases to be an extractor of natural resources and begins to export value-added goods.
However, the Bolivian story is not one of “progress”, but of forging an alternative economy, one which stems from the original peoples and nations. At the centre of its proposal is the Suma Qamaña, a notion that has been incorporated into the constitution and that is translated as “living well”, meaning to be in harmony and equilibrium with other people and with nature. It is a proposal born in the community, and it is based, not in the logic of economic profitability, but on producing goods according to nature. As Evo Morales has said: “We don’t believe in the linear, cumulative conception of progress and of an unlimited development at the cost of other people and of nature. To live well is to think not only in terms of per capita income, but of cultural identity, community, harmony among ourselves and with Mother Earth.”
Raúl García Linera, one of Bolivia’s principal political strategists, describes the current process of transformation in his country as trying to change the engine of a car while it’s moving. It is, no doubt, a genuine, bold and encouraging attempt.
Luis Hernández Navarro is the opinion editor of Mexico’s La Jornada
© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited
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