Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas, Bitches

Hey all, remember me? Taking a fatty break from blogging right in the middle of Morales' historic electoral victory. 63% for Evo and 2/3 in the Senate, which translates to all you haters can suck it. Now the fun really begins.

Some comrades and I stored up on beer for the Sunday election and enjoyed a beautiful sunny and clear day in La Paz rather than blog the inevitable in a dark room all day. By the time everyone got to Plaza Murillo for Evo's speech that night with the Paceños busting out the singani things were a little out of control. Here is my fuzzy drunk photo of Evo and Alvaro. I've been on break since.

So let's catch up on some of the latest I missed in case you don't read my superior brother and sister sites linked on the side.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

What I learned about the Bolivian elections

BBC: "President Morales" easily crushed his adversary in the ring

Tomorrow is election day in Bolivia and everyone knows that Evo Morales and his MAS party are going to win big time, oh yeah. But how should we understand such political success? Let's consult our trusty English language press sources to find out, fun after the jump!:

Friday, December 04, 2009

Who supports Manfred?

I don't see any taxis nearby. Wonder what he means?

"We raise the hand to show that we are clean people without a dark past. It looks like a hitlerian salute but is about an imperial salute."

La Mala Palabra has published an interview with Diego Bracamonte, leader of the Nationalist Bolivian Youth, a fascist group aligned with the Santa Cruz Youth Union and Bolivian Falange. Not surprisingly, they are campaigning for Manfred Reyes as President. No wonder Manfred will be lucky to break 20% in Sunday's vote.

Pardon John Brown

American Leftist makes the case for Obama to pardon John Brown and free the revolutionary spirit of the United States. I quite agree.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The simple version of Evo's political success

It is the economy stupid.

Otto at Inca Kola News has been a lone wolf in the wilderness detailing Morales' miracle Bolivian economy. Now the respected Mark Weisbrot of CEPR weighs in.

WASHINGTON - December 3 - Bolivia's economic growth over the last four years has been higher than at any time in the last 30 years - with projected growth for 2009 the highest in the Western Hemisphere - due to a series of government initiatives in recent years that have helped Bolivia to cope with the impact of the world recession. This is one of the highlights of a new paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Research: "Bolivia: The Economy During the Morales Administration," by Mark Weisbrot, Rebecca Ray, and Jake Johnston. The paper looks at how Bolivia's economy has been able to progress despite a number of significant shocks, including falling remittances, declining foreign investment, the United States' revocation of trade preferences, serious bouts of political instability as a result of separatist political opposition movements, and recent declines in export prices and markets, along with other impacts of the global recession.

continue reading....


Evo's chief challenger Manfred Reyes understands fully that is campaign is just a clown show. The other day he bought tickets on the first flight out of La Paz to Miami the morning after Sundays Presidential election. Nuff said.

P.S. Otto got here first.

Photo caption contest

Alvaro and Evo

Rocking out to victory

Various ABI photos from the election campaign across the country to give you an idea of what is going to happen Sunday. One thing is certain, Evo knows how to throw a party.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Hungarian fascist needs our help!

The poor soul has been harassing my companera Bina over at News of the Restless and needs a visit from the police. Help him out.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fake election Sunday

Today's "election" in Honduras will change nothing. They ain't fooling no one.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Guess who is lining up to kiss Evo's ass now?

A few hints. They helped destroy Bolivia's economy in the 1980s and 90s, pushing millions of people into poverty, and now that Bolivia refuses to follow their advice they praise the results.

Still don't have it.

Our favorite neoliberal duo....

The International Monetary Fund and Interamerican Development Bank!

Yup, apparently doing exactly the opposite of what these neoliberal economist blowhards say is exactly what they always meant.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Please, stop stupidity

What do you know, another Morales=Cocaine article appeared the other day in the Guardian Weekly and then another in the Washington Times. This wouldn't happen to have anything to do with the election, now would it?

All of these smear articles are all based on this year's UN drug study which found an increase of 9% in Bolivian coca production last year. First in needs to be said that these figures are of coca (not cocaine) production. The data is then used to estimate cocaine production, no exact figure for cocaine production exists.

However it might figure that more coca production would go to producing cocaine, so let's just assume it is true for the sake of argument. It would then figure that increase seizures by the Bolivian police would be a sign of increasing cocaine production (a fact cited in both articles). But wait, why have seizures by Bolivian anti-narcotics police increase 148%!!! You do the math.

What do you think these figures are more likely the result of, increasing coke trafficking or herculean police work?

Let's put these figures in some context to help you make up your mind. The amount Bolivian police confiscated in 2008 is nearly equal to the amount seized by Peruvian police in the same year, except Peru's estimated cocaine production is more than double that of Bolivia.

So how should we characterize Evo Morales' stance on cocaine? soft, hard, mild Swiss?

Here is a Morales quote the western press seems to be interpreting as Evo admitting failure in controlling trafficking:

Lamentably, I, as a coca producer, have to tell the truth. The illegal price, the price of cocaine, is what regulates the price of coca. As long as it stays this way, illegal coca cultivations will keep mush­rooming,

Ok, let me explain what Evo is saying here to dumb journalists without one ounce of introspection.

Evo said the coca market is tied to the cocaine market. What Evo did not say here and assumes you understand (or perhaps they are omitting part of the quote?) is that the price of cocaine is set by how much white powder yuppies in the States snort each year. Which is to say, Evo just said the price of coca is set by gringos who couldn't even find Bolivia on a map. So maybe you should stop snorting coke, how about that?

But forget all that, we know Evo is a bad guy because he kicked out the US DEA. I mean those guys do everything they can to control drug trafficking, just look at Colombia.

So please, can we stop with this Morales=Cocaine nonsense? Or at least just stop passing off Dorian Medina's election campaign attack ads as journalism?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Evo Morales' response to the Wall Street Journal

The honorable President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Evo Morales has issued a formal response to the offensive smear campaign authored by Wall Street Journal columnist Mary O'Grady. A must read. Go over to BoRev to read it in full.

Mary O'Grady gets served

Look what showed up in the comments section of Wall Street Journal columnist O'Grady's bat shit crazy article on Evo Morales yesterday? Damn nerds and their "facts"!
Mary Anastasia O'Grady's Nov 22 column about Bolivias upcoming elections is full of inaccuracies and invective. Rather than respond point by point, we would like to point out three facts. In 2002 Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada received 22% of the vote and assumed the presidency at the head of an unstable coalition. His inability to respond to the crisis his policies brought about led to political unrest that culminated after 67 died when he authorized the use of lethal force on civilians. He resigned and fled the country and faces extradition charges. The US District Court of Southern Florida recently ruled that a case against Sanchez de Lozada for crimes against humanity and extrajudicial killings could move forward.

In December 2005, following constitutional procedures, Morales was elected with 54% of the vote, beating his closest rival by over 20 points, the most decisive election victory since the 1982 return to democracy. Since that time, over 100 international observers have monitored a recall election (Morales won 67% of the vote) and a constitutional referendum (which passed with 61%). There were few complaints of irregularities.

O'Grady should recognize Morales is an extremely popular president in the process of consolidating a weak state in a peaceful manner. The Morales administration has expressed interest in improving relations with the United States, which would serve long term goals of economic and democratic stability in Latin America.

Dr. Ben Kohl, Associate Professor, Temple University

Kathyrn Ledebur, Director, Andean Information Network

Dr. Daniel Goldstein, Anthropology, Rutgers University

Dr. Juan Arbona, Associate Professor, Bryn Mawr

Linda Farthing, writer

Franoise Martinez, Universit Paris Ouest France

Dr. Miriam Shakow, Assistant Professor Vanderbilt University

Emma Banks, Cornell University

Dr. Meredith Dudley, Tulane University

Dr. Susanne Jonas, University of California, Santa Cruz

Dr. Guillermo Delgado, University of California, Santa Cruz

Marion Oveson, La Paz, Bolivia

Dr. Pascale Absi, anthropologist, University of Paris

Dr. Jonathan Fox, University of California, Santa Cruz

Ms. Sarah Motola

Dr. Estelle Tarica, University of California, Berkeley

David Kane, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Dr. Leonardo Garcia-Pabon, University of Oregon

Elizabeth Weimer, Carleton College

The Credibility of Campaign Promises

Franz Chavez

LA PAZ, Nov 23 (IPS) - If two candidates offer funds for the poor, but one of them is known for living up to his promises, who will the citizens vote for? That would seem to broadly describe the choice Bolivian voters are facing in the Dec. 6 general elections.

President Evo Morales of the leftist Movement to Socialism (MAS) is expected to handily win a second term, for the 2010-2015 period, without the need for a runoff election.

Morales, the first-ever indigenous president in a country where native peoples form a downtrodden majority, won the December 2005 elections with 53.7 percent of the vote - an unprecedented majority in a country where leaders are sometimes elected with less than half that level of support.

And in an August 2008 recall referendum, he took a record 67 percent of the vote.

Since he took office in January 2006, Morales has broken the mould of traditional Bolivian presidents, putting a priority on social justice and the rights of indigenous people. Among the tools he has used are cash transfers to the poorest segments of society.

continue reading...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Elections to end democracy forever!

The Wall Street Journal's professional crazy lady Mary O'Grady has distracted her attention from praising Honduras' "democratic" military coup and throwing feces at small children to warn us of a terrible event about to occur in in South America.

Elections! I know, how barbaric. But it gets worse. Turns out there is this President who is really popular and will likely win in a landslide! This means only one thing. The End of Democracy!

You may find that logic a bit, well, loose... but O'Grady explains:
A dictatorship that fosters the production and distribution of cocaine is not apt to enjoy a positive international image. But when that same government cloaks itself in the language of social justice, with a special emphasis on the enfranchisement of indigenous people, it wins world-wide acclaim.
At first I thought she was talking about Colombian President Uribe, but it turns out she means Bolivia's Evo Morales.

Still not making any sense why Bolivians would reelect such a thug? Have no fear. O'Grady has special knowledge somehow overlooked by the European Union and Organization of American States monitoring the December 6th Bolivian elections, "Mr. Morales is expected to win re-election easily, in part because in many areas that he controls voters will be escorted into polling booths to make sure they choose correctly." Good thinking Mary, making shit up never fails!

The article continues like this for another eleven paragraphs. Keep reading if you find the twisted delusions of a mind imploding in denial "fun". Here is something sure to make O'Grady shit a brick.

Evo in front of his supports in Santa Cruz yesterday

Lazy reporting casts shadow on BBC journalism

I don't think you ask the right questions Andres.

Surprise surprise, just a few weeks before the December Bolivian Presidential elections the BBC comes out with a story insinuating that Evo Morales' campaign is being partly funded by cocaine and claiming that cocaine production has benefited greatly under his administration, "Bolivia election: Cocaine casts shadow on campaign".

Ugh... Do we really have to go over this again?

Because I am hung over let me copy and paste the following facts Andres Schipani just happen to have missed from an earlier post:
1. Coca cultivation has increase in recent years in Bolivia.

2. Evo Morales has pursued a demilitarized coca regulatory policy, to keep coca farmers from being murdered by the DEA.

3. Morales has shifted coercive man power to policing cocaine traffickers and producers.

4. Bolivian anti-narcotics police, FELCN, have since Morales taking office more than doubled cocaine seizures and continues to make seizures of large cocaine factories, all without the "help" of the DEA.

5. Morales' demilitarized coca regulations have resulted in the eradication of more coca cultivation per hectare than under previous neoliberal administration.
Next, Andres quotes Morales' election opponent Dorian Medina in claiming "The only sector that has had an important growth in these past four years is the coca production and also the cocaine industry." Does Andres fact check this statement? Of course not, that requires actual work.

But the really funny thing is that Andres could have saved himself all of the research required to judge such a statement by just asking wealthy businessman Medina how his cement business is doing these days. I would imagine Morales' economic policy of dumping half of the public budget into infrastructure construction in the last year and a half would have had major benefits for the owner of one of Bolivia's major cement factories.

But I guess that kind of a boom in Latin America's fastest growing economy is not enough for Medina, because pasted all over Bolivia at the moment are Medina's two campaign promises: 1) He will put Bolivia to work and 2) More police to make sure #1 happens. It's not going over very well.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Just who is "developed"?

Bolivia celebrated 20 years of the UN Convention on Rights of the Child, a treaty recongized by every country on earth save two pirate outlaw nations. One of them is Somalia. Guess which one is the other?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Joe Hill ain't no ghost

I am happy to read that someone in the United States seems willing to stand up to the neoliberal ass-raping also referred to as "the Crisis" going on in Gringolandia. Let's hope other take on the example of University of California students and tell their corporate masters to fuck off (or otherwise known as acting like Bolivians). cheers!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Joe Hill lives

The Mex Files

Today is the 94th anniversary of the judicial murder of Joe Hill, executed by a Utah firing squad 19 November 1915. Hill, a Swedish immigrant (born Joel Hägglund in the 1870s — no one seems to be certain), while working as an itinerant laborer throughout the U.S. west, was also an entertainer, songwriter, and — most dangerously — an IWW organizer. Charismatic and handsome, Hill’s labor organizing skills were a threat to the mining company management, and several attempts had already made to silence him.

continue reading....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Indigenous People Send Ultimatum to Ray Hunt:

'Get Your Oil Company Out of Our Protected Areas'

As deadline approaches, tensions rise again in the Peruvian Amazon

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a recent letter to Hunt Oil Company President Ray Hunt, the Native Federation of the Rio Madre de Dios (FENAMAD) gave Hunt until this week to leave the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve in the southern Peruvian Amazon as a condition to continuing any further talks.

"Having peacefully exhausted all protest, without receiving any answer, we hereby communicate that we have agreed to a fifteen-day period for you to definitively withdraw from the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve since you do not have the indigenous community's consent," states FENAMAD's letter.

continue reading...

Election news and updates

  • Evo Morales predicts the future: he will win by 2/3rds and the opposition will get violent. But we kind of knew that already.
  • Wow, look. An article actually writes about what is really at stake in the December election (not Morales' reelection) but control of the Senate- and I should add all the indigenous, regional, and departmental autonomy referendums. However they still quote a retarded "political analysist" who claims Morales needs 2/3rds of the Senate to pass new bills. Wrong. They only need simply majority for new laws, 2/3rds to amend the constitution.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Oh snap. Ben Bernanke just got served an uneducated Marxist coca farmer! Inca Kola News has the details.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Justice closing in on Goni

¡Juicio a Goni Ya!

Cambridge, Mass.
– The U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida ruled yesterday that the claims for crimes against humanity and extrajudicial killings could move forward in two related U.S. cases against former Bolivian President Gonzalo Daniel Sánchez de Lozada Sánchez Bustamante (Sánchez de Lozada) and former Bolivian Defense Minister Jose Carlos Sánchez Berzaín (Sánchez Berzaín). The cases, Mamani, et al. v. Sánchez Berzaín, and Mamani, et al. v. Sánchez de Lozada, seek compensatory and punitive damages under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS).

continue reading...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Opposition using their old standby tactic


They know they are finished. Evo has the election locked up. In the latest poll Morales is leading his scumbag challenger Manfred 52-22%. So what is a fascist to do? Do what they do best, club people.
Last night a political campaign rally in support of Morales' reelection on the campus of Santa Cruz University Gabriel Rene Moreno was assaulted by rightwing thugs leaving five injured hospitalized.

This is the third such violent assault (by my count: previous one and two) related to the December elections by the opposition in the last weeks in Santa Cruz. One university student summed up the significance last night,

"This is a demonstration of the pigeons of the dictator, that they do not know how to live in democracy. They are desperate, they know that President Evo Morales is going to demolish this election."

Desperate is right. Evo is cleaning house even in the once supposed "Media Luna" heartland of the rightwing opposition. Check out these photos from a MAS rally with VP Alvaro Linera in Beni (eastern Bolivia) last month.

I believe Woody Guthrie has a few words:

People of every color
Marching side by side
Marching 'cross these fields
Where a million fascists dies
You're bound to lose
You fascists bound to lose!

Update: The UN representative to Bolivia, Yoriko Yasukawa condemned these violent acts.

Alvaro Linera and the End of Poverty

At the end of the Democracy Now! interview with filmmaker of "The End of Povertry?" they play a clip of an interview of Bolivia's Vice-President Alvaro Linera with John Perkins so you can see what a badass Evo Morales has for his right-hand man (followed by an Amy Goodman discussion with John Perkins). The two DN! segments below are well worth your viewing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Picture of the day

source: ABI

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Evo tells Obama how to earn his Nobel Peace Prize

"Obama must justify that award by withdrawing all the troops of his country from around the world, to support the reestablishment of the democracy in Honduras and to lift the economic embargo on Cuba."

Sounds fair. But I am sure one or two of you out there will say, "But those new US military bases in Colombia are for PEACE and to stop drug trafficking."

A nice fairy tale, but for the rest of us who do not read or listen to the censored press in the United States (you don't live in a free country, get over it), we know that the US military's own documents plainly state these Colombian bases provides an opportunity for conducting full spectrum operations throughout South America.

Down here in South America people know how to read that statement. As Vice President Alvaro Linera stated "Latin America should prepare itself for an eventual United States invasion."

Prove him wrong. He was right about "Ambassador" Philip Goldberg.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Peru: indigenous people face off with Hunt Oil in rainforest

WW4 Report

The Native Federation of the Rio Madre de Dios (FENAMAD) reports that at least 200 indigenous people have gathered at the settlement of Salvación, the local base for Texas-based Hunt Oil in the rainforest region of southeast Peru, in an ongoing occupation to halt the company's operations. After a meeting at Salvación between company representatives, local indigenous leaders and high-ranking government ministers Oct. 28, FENAMAD announced it was breaking off dialogue and announced an open-ended plantón (protest vigil). Fifty National Police officers have been mobilized to Salvación, where the stand-off continues

The meeting at Salvación, in Manu province of Madre de Dios region, was attended by Prime Minister Javier Velásquez Quesquén, Environment Mnister Antonio Brack, Mines and Energy Minister Pedro Sánchez, and Hunt Oil high executives. But indigenous leaders were not appeased. "We will not permit the presence of the oil company, despite the fact that the state has united with the transnational, turning over to it our territories," said FENAMAD's Jaime Corisepa.

continue reading...

Saturday, November 07, 2009

In Bolivia climate change is not a future problem, it is now

Chacaltaya glacier, there you see it, now you don't

Oxfam America recently put out an alarming press release explaining how climate change will put dire stress on impoverished communities in Bolivia along five dimensions: glacier retreat, natural disasters, disease spread, forest fires, and erratic weather.

All very true, and reason for the world's largest polluter (USA! #1!) to face up to its responsibilities in Copenhagen Climate Summit, but the Oxfam report makes one serious mistake- tensing its warnings in the future tense.

In Bolivia climate change is happening now, and affecting communities with little recourse to "adapt" (nice euphemism for getting forced off your land and livelihood). The glaciers that provide much of Bolivia's fresh water are disappearing, now. The Chacaltaya glacier which supplies water to the city of El Alto and altiplano is basicly nonexistant. Bolivia has requested emergency assistence from the UN due to drought.

People suffer and someone is going to have to pay. Maybe it ought to be those responsible?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Hunt Oil and Amarakaeri Reserve Update

Hunt Oil Contract to Reignite Amazon Uprising?
Bill Weinberg, NACLA

Lot 76, Hunt Oil and Amarakaeri Communal Reserve: A Story of Corruption and Systematic Violation of Indigenous Rights
Translated by Indigenous Peoples

WBAI Radio Program on Hunt Oil concession

Local Tribes Confront Hunt Oil,
Oil and Gas Industry News

US Oil Company Threatened with Eviction from Amazon
Survival International

Se rompe dialogo entre lideres indigena y la Hunt Oil

Picture: Willy Corisepa, Harakmbut indigenous leader

Morales Speaks of Closer Bolivia-U.S. Relations

Latin American Herald Tribune

LA PAZ – Bolivian President Evo Morales spoke Saturday of closer relations between the United States and his country, and said that a new accord to re-establish diplomatic ties could be signed in November.

“Our foreign minister keeps me permanently informed. At last they accepted the conditions (of the accord) with observations; there will still have to be negotiations,” Morales said, referring to the work of the commissions of both countries to try and normalize the deteriorated relations after the expulsion of their respective ambassadors.

The Bolivian president said that the requirements of his government to reach this new accord are that there must be a “government-to-government cooperation” and that “United States diplomats must not be political agents.”

continue reading...

Monday, November 02, 2009

Another day in history

Bolivian history is an exercise in uncovering and encountering the forgotten, lost, and repressed.

Thirty years ago 1979, La Paz was overtaken on the morning of November 1st by tank divisions initaiting a bloody 16 day military coup of Coronel Alberto Natusch Busch. Known as the Todos Santos Massacre, taking place over the Todos Santos holiday, the 16 day coup and repression of popular resistence left 8 dead, 221 wounded, and 124 disappeared. Ulitmately serving as only a practice run for the bloodier 1980 Cociane Coup.

images stolen from Indymedia Bolivia

update: Mexfiles picks up on the Todos Santos Massacre in an excellent discussion of coups and resistence in Latin America- thoughts currently directed towards Honduras.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Enter the twilight zone: The AP grows a brain

The Associated Press is a press institution usually responsible for offensive misrepresentation of Bolivia and its indigenous peoples, the latest case being this apologist article on Leopoldo Fernandez's Vice Presidential candidacy, labeling the Pando massacre a "clash". However, today is one of those days when the AP crew puts their collective brains together and actually publishes a thoughtful and well done story on Bolivia and indigenous politics. Spooky. Good job Frank Bajak.

Indian political awakening stirs Latin America
Frank Bajak

JESUS DE MACHACA, Bolivia — In Ecuador, the Shuar are blocking highways to defend their hunting grounds. In Chile, the Mapuche are occupying ranches to pressure for land, schools and clinics. In Bolivia, a new constitution gives the country's 36 indigenous peoples the right to self-rule.

All over Latin America, and especially in the Andes, a political awakening is emboldening Indians who have lived mostly as second-class citizens since the Spanish conquest.

Much of it is the result of better education and communication, especially as the Internet allows native leaders in far-flung villages to share ideas and strategies across international boundaries.

But much is born of necessity: Latin American nations are embarking on an unprecedented resource hunt, moving in on land that Indians consider their own — and whose pristine character is key to their survival.

continue reading...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Reuters discovers blogging

Reuters man in Bolivia, Eduardo Garcia, has put up a post on a day in the life of Evo Morales. Read it if you want to understand just why Evo Morales will likely win December's Presidential elections by a landslide. The art of politics does not get more advanced than Evo.

Hunt Oil and Amarakaeri Reserve update

It looks like fears of a violent clash have been averted for the moment, with the spotlight on Hunt Oil's operations, the oil company and Peruvian government have agreed to talk with the local indigenous communities rather than pretend they just did not exist. Some good resources below, Terry Wade's Reuters piece explains the competing claims of the different parties better than anyone.

RPT-Peru tribes pressure Hunt Oil to leave Amazon, Reuters Terry Wade

Amarakaeri natives begin a massive sit-down demanding Hunt Oil Co. to leave their territory, Living in Peru

Crisis averted for now, Peruvian natives will meet with Hunt Oil,

The Harakmbut: Defending The Amarakaeri Reserve, Amazon Watch

Indigenous Peoples Of Amarakaeri Communal Reserve And Hunt Oil Company: Background Information, Indigenous Peoples

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Latin America's economic rebels

Mark Weisbrot

Among the conventional wisdom that we hear every day in the business press is that developing countries should bend over backwards to create a friendly climate for foreign corporations, follow orthodox (neoliberal) macroeconomic policy advice and strive to achieve an investment-grade sovereign credit rating so as to attract more foreign capital.

Guess which country is expected to have the fastest economic growth in the Americas this year? Bolivia. The country's first indigenous president, Evo Morales, was elected in 2005 and took office in January 2006. Bolivia, the poorest country in South America, had been operating under IMF agreements for 20 consecutive years, and its per-capita income was lower than it had been 27 years earlier.

continue reading...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Déjà Vu All Over Again: “Decertification” Memorandum of Justification Inaccurate and Misleading

Andean Information Network
On September 15, the Obama administration submitted the Memorandum of Justification explaining their decision to name Bolivia as a country that "failed demonstrably... to adhere to their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements" for the second year in a row. Once again the determination presents inaccurate, poorly prepared information, further complicated by confusing language.
Without reliable, coherent information, it is impossible to evaluate Bolivia’s drug control performance. Although like all drug control efforts, Bolivia’s program faces multiple challenges, false assertions contained in the Memorandum further impede bilateral relations. Any future efforts to redefine U.S. -Bolivian relations and cooperation must be based on a precise, realistic assessment of past interactions and the realization that the decision to “decertify” with a faulty justification has put the U.S. even farther out of step with the international community and Latin American multilateral anti-drug initiatives.

Amazonian natives say they will defend tribal lands from Hunt Oil with "their lives"

October 25, 2009
Indigenous natives in the Amazon are headed to the town of Salvacion in Peru with a plan to forcibly remove the Texas-based Hunt Oil company from their land as early as today. Peruvian police forces, numbering in the hundreds, are said to be waiting in the town.
The crisis has risen over an area known as Lot 76, or the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve. The 400,000 hectare reserve was created in 2002 to protect the flora and fauna of the area, as well as to safeguard watersheds of particular importance to indigenous groups in the region.
Despite its protected status, in 2006 the Peruvian government granted concessions within the reserve to two oil companies, Hunt Oil and the Spanish company Respol.
According to FENAMAD (the Native Federation of the Madre de Dios) protections had been slowly and systematically stripped from the reserve without indigenous groups' input. In addition, FENADMAD contends that Hunt Oil has violated international standards and the Peruvian constitution by going ahead with their operations without approval from the indigenous groups.
Hunt's director of environmental health and safety for Lot 76, Silvana Lay, disagrees. He told the Indian Country Today that “we weren’t going to come in until the Master Plan was approved. We waited two years, and during that period we met with the communities and gave information. We have the signatories of everybody saying the work can go ahead – within the rules, of course. And then we received a call saying the work cannot go ahead.”
However, indigenous groups say that Hunt Oil only met with two communities: the Shintuya and the Puerto Luz, leaving others who use the reserve out in the cold.
A document written by FENAMAD further alleges that the Environmental and Social Impact Study conducted by Hunt Oil and approved by the federal government is "completely irresponsible and [does] not describe any reality for the area. It was approved illegally and unconstitutionally, in spite of the observations made by a group of professionals from civil society in Madre de Dios."
On September 13th of this year representatives of indigenous groups released a statement that said "the entry of Hunt Oil and Respol into the interior of the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve to execute seismic projects is not accepted, a decision that will be respected by the Peruvian State, Hunt Oil and Repsol, who have been present witnesses to this decision."
However, Hunt Oil has continued its seismic surveys inside the reserve. It is their unwillingness to halt activities that has prompted the indigenous groups to travel to Salvacion and, according to statements made by the indigenous groups, forcibly remove the US-corporation from their land.
"The most vulnerable ecological and cultural areas are now being invaded by seismic lines, whose impacts are irreparable. The area of intervention is one of very high biological value from a worldwide perspective and its surface and underground hydrological system have great cultural significance for the Harakmbut, which makes this a vital space for the subsistence of not only the indigenous communities, but the greater population of the Amazon Basin," the document by FENAMAD states. "For that reason, all of the beneficiary communities of the RCA have taken the position of impeding the entrance into the oil block and defending the protected area with their lives."
FENAMAD's statement may be a portent: in June a clash between native peoples and Peruvian police over exploitation of the Amazon turned bloody. Thousands of indigenous people blocked roads to protest new rule changes that made it easier for foreign companies to extract oil, gas, minerals, and timber from the Peruvian Amazon, including tribal lands. During the ensuing clash, twenty-three police were killed and at least ten protestors, according to official numbers. Indigenous groups, however, say that hundreds remain missing and have asked for a Truth Commission to investigate the tragic incident.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Indigenous Peoples Of Amarakaeri Communal Reserve Issues Ultimatum To Hunt Oil Company

Thank "Indigenous Peoples" for the following English translation.

The president of the native communities from ACE Amarakaeri Communal Reserve-RCA, Adan Corisepa Neri, issued an ultimatum to the U.S. company Hunt Oil Company, through which notes the decision of the people Harakmbut, Yine and Machiguenga going to "leave" should the oil company continue its seismic prospecting work within the indigenous ancestral territory.

Madre de Dios Region, Peru: Location of the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve

As is known, the native communities "amarakaeris" decided to reject two meetings, on 20 August and 13 September last, the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons within Amarakaeri Communal Reserve.

However, "the decision taken by the beneficiary communities Amarakaeri Communal Reserve not accept the entry of the oil company Hunt Oil and Repsol to RCA, is respected by both the company and the state and manifest abuse of power, ignoring our rights and disrespect for the indigenous people continue to perform their seismic work, which is a challenge that can not afford. "

The statement released today is signed on October 12, 2009 by President of ACE-RCA Corisepa Adan, President of the Native Federation of Madre de Dios River, FENAMAD, Antonio Iviche, and Council Vice Harakmbut, Yine and Machiguenga , COHARYIMA Clement Irey.

This document is resolved to "deal with this reality, the indigenous peoples of Madre de Dios we get up in arms and take action to evict the seismic work within Amarakaeri Communal Reserve and fight to be the case with life, to evict those who do not respect our rights. "

Also, the indigenous people of Madre de Dios invoke the "solidarity" national and international population of the rest of the Amazon of Peru, public authorities and private institutions and international cooperation, so that with this fight "to prevent support once again violate the fundamental rights of the indigenous people of our region."

Pass this letter along so that Hunt Oil cannot play ignorant.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Amazonians make movies also

Tired of watching stupid white people make jackasses of themselves talking about those "poor Indians" living in the Amazon and who they ought to just grown up and learn to be white?

Well, a new Peruvian film floating around the internet, titled "El Perro del Hortelano", takes on the the drive to exploit the Amazon's oil reserves (the film was made where there is the current standoff with Hunt Oil) and the racist discourse of "development" promoted by Alan Garcia and outsiders, instead showing what an indigenous protagonist has to say and think. (What an idea, actually listening to those savages!)

To watch the rest go to the film website here.

The next Bagua?

Map of Hunt Oils plans to "explore", i.e. destroy, another indigenous territory

If you thought the government of Alan Garcia and his petrol buddies had learned their lesson after the Bagau massacre you will be sadly mistaken.

Despite Amazon indigenous groups proven willingness to die in order to protect their ancestral territories from corporate destruction, Hunt Oil is ignoring demands by FENAMAD (regional indigenous organization) to halt exploration of the biodiversity 'hot spot', and legally protected, Reserva Comunal Amarakaeri (Amarakaeri Comunal Reserve).

FENAMAD has taken every necessary legal step to halt Hunt Oil from exploring the territory (as nicely detailed by Inca Kola News) but Hunt is continuing their exploration. If you watch this video (posted by Otto), you will see FENAMAD has issued an ultimatem and as stated previously will fight "to the death" in order to protect the Reserve.

If Bagau teaches us anything, it is to take the word of Amazonian Natives seriously. They are rational human beings like the rest of us and will follow through on their word. (go to the FEMANAD website for more info in Spanish)

But jackasses like Hernando de Soto still refuse to take these people seriously as human being s with their own ideas as this excellent article at Upside Down World, "The Neoliberal Crusade for Indigenous Lands" takes on the insidious discourse and politics of Hernando de Soto.

Monday, October 19, 2009

General Sucre rises to smash yankee dollar?

Simon Bolivar's leading General and Bolivia's second President Antonio José de Sucre was given a new task by the Presidents of ALBA this weekend in Cochabamba, be the new currency of Latin American integration and regionally replace the dollar.

This announcement comes on the heels of a lot of talk about the falling dollar, and much like the hype the actual details of the Sucre are less so. It is planned to be a fictional unit of transaction ABLA nations would trade in between themselves, in other words basically nothing. But not altogether insignificant, the agreement lays part of the ground work for the creation of a genuine regional currency, should such a thing ever happen.

Below is an excellent interview on the political economy of the dollar with Leo Panitch.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Y tu Cochabamba tambien

Cochabamba seems to be attracting a lot of leading men these days. No, I am not talking about the sexy Latin Presidents meeting there this week for the ALBA summit, at least one of whom a number of bloggers seem to have an unhealthy obsession for.

Gael at Cocha press conference

Gael Garcia (otherwise known in film as the hot Che or Mexico's bisexual) is gracing his stardom upon Cochabamba this week for the production of a new film, also staring Cochabamba.

Titled Tambien la Lluvia, Garcia plays a film director come to Bolivia to try to make a film about Christopher Columbus and Spanish greed only to get caught up in the struggles of modern day colonialism in the 2000 Cochabamba Water War. Seems like a decent way to introduce westerns to these recent historical events. The title (translated roughly, Also the Rain) refers to the prohabition of collecting rain water imposed after Cochabamba's municipal water system was privatized to US and French corporations. The consortium claimed they owned the rain as well. Yes, they really are that evil.

Another Hat tip to La Mala Palabra