Sunday, June 22, 2008

Something stinks in Tarija

Today is the illegal autonomy referendum vote in Tarija, Bolivia. I was going to wait a day until reports filtered in to put a summary together, but surprising and suspicious events yesterday require commentary.

Headlines across Bolivia's newspapers are leading with this story. Early Saturday morning a dynamite explosion caused minor damage to the Unitel television station in Yacuiba, Tarija. Unitel is a news corporation opposed to Evo. The local police arrested a military officer, Jorge Nava Zurita, near the scene with a jeep packed full of deadly goodies (pictured above). According to Yacuiba's local prosecutor, the officer is a member of the Evo Morales' Presidential Palace Guard and admitted to planting the bomb. Additionally 19-20 (I've read different numbers) youth from Santa Cruz (La Razon claims barrio Plan Tres Mil, an area of MAS support) were apprehended separately at a hotel. The local prosecutor claims the two groups were working together to intimidate the public during the referendum vote, apparently having a list of local officials and residences.

Presidental Minister Ramón Quintana denounced the acts, demanded an investigation, rejected any suggestion of government complicity, and denied the claim that the officer worked at the Palace, stating that he wanted to actually see and verify the identification card cited by the prosecutor.

Head of the opposition party PODEMOS, Jorge "Tuto" Quiroga held a press conference in which he claimed Evo is using "state terrorism" to disrupt the autonomy vote. When pressed to substantiate his accusation, Tuto retorted that he "knows there are people in the government who placed bombs, who should change their attitude and not return to the methods of the past..". Remember that Tuto is literally the political successor to Hugo Banzer, the Bolivian dictator who actually perpetrated state terrorism, in keeping with his contemporaries such as Pinochet, Stroessner, and Videla.

In my opinion this all doesn't add up. So lets say Tuto is right and Evo is a terrorist looking to disrupt the autonomy vote (already ruled illegal by the national electoral court), this unprecedented attack would have to be the dumbest feat of terrorism yet. Why attack a solitary TV station the day before the vote and not on the morning of the vote? Unitel would be the first opposition media station attacked by Evo supports (the opposite is not true). Then get caught with your jeep full of equipment you'd use the next day to assualt people, the list and location of whom you've given to some youth supporters caught in their hold up because...?

It all frankly makes more sense to me as a patsy operation, nicely timed for the domestic and international news cycle to make Evo out as the bad guy while pursuing an illegal and non-monitored election as fascist thugs do the actual job of political intimidation (as was done previously in Santa Cruz, Beni, and Pando). Maybe I'm just paranoid following the alleged assassination attempt on Evo Friday, in which the local Santa Cruz prosecutor let the suspects go. You tell me.


The Neither Party said...

El Duderino:
Paranoid or not, I have followed this closely and believe you are spot-on, and correct to be suspicious of this false-flag operation--the intent of which is obviously to demean the Morales government, and to create the atmosphere of distrust which would benefit only those who are opposed to his democratic agenda.
I have discussed this with Bolivian friends and relatives and we are divided as to what Morales' response should be:
A. To not respond with force--and not provide his detractors with either a basis to retaliate in kind nor to accuse him of assuming dictatorial powers, or:
B. To vigorously respond to these obvious seditious attempts at undermining Bolivia's present-day constitutional authority.
Either way, Morales has been placed in a conundrum: that of accusations of being ineffectual by not reacting, or of being dictatorial and over-reacting. So far, I think Morales has handled this well by authorizing his ministers to investigate the autonomous groups bent on Bolivia’s destruction.
Call me a conspiracy-theorist, but I believe this has the bloody hands of US-planned and financed efforts to keep Bolivia divided and more easily controlled by US and other corporate interests in preventing a truly free and democratic Bolivia from continuing to emerge from long-standing neo-liberal rule.
My understanding is that the Bolivian authorities are now looking into the financial affairs of those who are behind the autonomy movement, as to their sources of funding.
My bet is that those funds will be traced back to the US government and/or to various entities acting on its behalf. Any takers?

Bina said...

The entire "autonomy" movement has USAID's dirty pugmarks all over it. And the fact that the US ambassador is not unsympathetic speaks volumes (none of them good) about him, too.

BTW, I've seen video showing Yon Goicoechea (a known anti-Chavez activist from Venezuela) stirring up the hate at anti-Evo rallies, too. La Hojilla on VTV has repeatedly shown the clip in which you can see Yon-Yon screaming his head off. Can you believe he got half a million dollars from the Cato Institute of Economic Imperialism for that performance? He did!