Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Alvaro Linera smacks down state censorship

With his judo chop!! motherfuckers

Pretty boy, Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Linera has set up a mirror of Wikileaks on the official vice-presidental website, because that is how we role in Bolivia! AP article (h/t Bolivia Rising) and link to the website!!!!!

correction: Alvaro Linera is not a "pretty boy", but a "silver fox". Thanks Bina!

The War is on Bitches

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Don't Shoot Messenger for Revealing Uncomfortable Truths

WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks.

By Julian Assange

December 07, 2010 "The Australian" --IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide's The News, wrote: "In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win."

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch's expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.

I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.

These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia, was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.

People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.

If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.

WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain's The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.

Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be "taken out" by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be "hunted down like Osama bin Laden", a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a "transnational threat" and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister's office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.

And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by Julia Gillard and her government. The powers of the Australian government appear to be fully at the disposal of the US as to whether to cancel my Australian passport, or to spy on or harass WikiLeaks supporters. The Australian Attorney-General is doing everything he can to help a US investigation clearly directed at framing Australian citizens and shipping them to the US.

Prime Minister Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.

We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn't want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.

Has there been any response from the Australian government to the numerous public threats of violence against me and other WikiLeaks personnel? One might have thought an Australian prime minister would be defending her citizens against such things, but there have only been wholly unsubstantiated claims of illegality. The Prime Minister and especially the Attorney-General are meant to carry out their duties with dignity and above the fray. Rest assured, these two mean to save their own skins. They will not.

Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by US agencies, Australian politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: "You'll risk lives! National security! You'll endanger troops!" Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes. It can't be both. Which is it?

It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US, with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan. NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn't find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.

But our publications have been far from unimportant. The US diplomatic cables reveal some startling facts:

► The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.

► King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US to attack Iran.

► Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran's nuclear program stopped by any means available.

► Britain's Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect "US interests".

► Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.

► The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.

In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said "only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government". The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.

Julian Assange is the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.
Copyright 2010 News Limited

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Bolivia, bad information and the State Department

by David Knowlton

The release of thousands of secret documents by WikiLeaks justifiably troubles the U.S. government, but it also provides the rest of us with a window into the information on which American foreign policy is based.

Though the window is broken and dirty, quite a lot can still be seen through it, and those glimpses are useful for evaluating our government and its policies.

Bolivia is one of the countries besides Cuba and Venezuela that troubles the United States in Latin America. Among the documents made public by WikiLeaks is a memorandum from the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia reporting on the buildup to that country’s Jan. 25, 2009, referendum on a new constitution. As a scholar who specializes in the study of Bolivia, I find the published memo important. It suggests how the United States filters information about a country in problematic ways that may well become the basis for making important decisions.

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Ambassador Has No Clothes

By Ben Dangl

A classified cable from the US embassy in La Paz, Bolivia released by WikiLeaks lays bare an embassy that is biased against the Evo Morales government, underestimates the sophistication of the governing party’s grassroots base, and out of touch with the political reality of the country. 

The recently released January 23, 2009 cable, entitled “Bolivia’s Referendum: Margin of Victory Matters,” analyzes the political landscape of the country in the lead up to the January 2009 referendum on the country’s new constitution, and was sent to all US embassies in South America and various offices in Washington.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fun with Fox News and Polls

Fox News is having a tantrum that some Indian named Evo Morales thinks he has the right to tell Defense Secretary Gates a bunch of true statements to his face just because Morales is the President of a sovereign country or something. Why give "50 million dollars" in aid to Bolivia when they act like an independent country? The ever insightful FoxNews readership has chimed in with their own reasons in the comments. We have selected a few choice responses (without modifications!) and are asking your humble opinion as to which is the best. Put your thinking caps on! 

1. chrisj49:
Stop the foreign aide, stop paying the UN, let them fend for themselves I doesn't matter what we do they still hate us. Let's give them a good reason. If they become a direct threat to us wipe them out

2. bolivianwingnut:
YeeHaw! Finally I am reading a news article that honestly desrcibes President Evo Morales presidencey. I have lived in Bolivia and watched it take place! I have felt for years that the US should cut off all aid. Every single penny. If that had been done long ago maybe they would have realized how great a help it is and also see the error of their ways. Socialism doesn't work!

3. flyingpossum:
Yes! We need to keep supporting them. Their women are the sickest, freakiest ho-ma's in all of the Americas (except maybe Venezuela). We need to keep them fed and breeding so as to maintain a constant supply of young, servile wenches for wealthy Americans to use for entertainment.

4. blackshirt:
In our current state of affairs and with the economy the way it is, I do not believe we should be giving money to anyone. If you do not have it, Don't give it away. How is giving something that you do not own different from stealing?


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Evo never fails

To tell it how it is... and this time Defense Secretary Gates had to listen at the OAS meeting of defense secretaries held in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

We will miss Chalmers Johnson

Pulse Media sums up my thought:
The great Chalmers Johnson is no more. An examplary scholar, Johnson metamorphosed from a hardline Cold Warrior into one of the most formidable critics of the American Empire, mapping its ever expanding imperium of bases. His 2000 book Blowback was prophetic, and his subsequent books The Sorrows of Empire and Nemesis have been equally prescient. Each one is a must read.

continue to Pulse listen to an interview with Johnson

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Hidden Torture Cells of Bolivia

The following article is by the Robert Baird, the journalist who uncovered the history of US support for the Hugo Banzer 1971 coup, and is on the secret torture cells that operated during the dictatorship, that Bolivian investigators are just now bringing to light. Link to Narrative Magazine and support this true journalist's work!

Robert Baird

They Were about to let him go. After ten days of torture in a circuit of secret prisons, they were about to let him go. The first night they had taken him to the basement of the Interior Ministry and had beaten him with boards and rifle butts until he couldn’t see, until he could no longer remember what they wanted or why he was there. The second night they had locked him in a cell on the third floor with a tiny window that looked down on the roof of the United Nations building next door.They had jammed needles under his fingernails and shocked his teeth and testicles with a cattle prod. The third night they had taken him to the Department of Political Order and beat him some more, as they would each successive night. Editing was his crime: the ministry’s civilian agents had discovered his handwritten corrections in the margins of a subversive typescript. But ten days of what you might call enhanced interrogation techniques had satisfied the agents that Marcos Farfán was a naive student, a small fish, someone they could safely toss back. After all, they must have figured, how much could he really know? He was only sixteen.

Distortion on the Andes: Showcasing fake indigenous leaders

Andean Information Network

In 2011, the newly elected House of Representatives will likely move U.S. foreign policy in Latin America toward intervention. Right-wing politicians in the U.S. maintain close ties with Latin American elite. In recent years, many of these opposition leaders have appealed to U.S. conservative interests in their region, expressing concern about their loss of power at the ballot box in countries such as Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador.

On November 17, the Americas Forum and the Hudson Institute will sponsor an event in the Capitol Visitors Center entitled “Danger in the Andes,” presenting a slate of speakers on terrorism, radical Islam, drug trafficking and threats to democracy and human rights. Speakers include the new leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as Otto Reich, Roger Noriega and John Walters, architects of Latin American foreign policy under Reagan and both Bush administrations. The organizers have also invited well-known critics of the Venezuelan and Ecuadorian governments, in addition to three Bolivian guests.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Coup University: SOUTHCOM and FIU Team Up on Counterinsurgency

Adrienne Pine

As it has done with great success throughout the past century, the U.S. militarycontinues to find ways to use the academy and anthropological concepts to whitewash its imperialist actions in the service of U.S. corporate profits. In Latin America from 1963-1965, Project Camelot set a dark precedent for the use of social science to abet and legitimate counterinsurgency operations including psychological warfare. Now, the U.S. Military's Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), the Pentagon's arm in Latin America and responsible for all U.S. bases the region, and Florida International University (FIU) have partnered in the creation of a so-called "Strategic Culture" Initiative, a center that hosts workshops and issues reports on the "strategic culture" of different Latin American countries. At present, reports have been issued from ArgentinaBoliviaBrazilChileColombiaCubaEcuadorEl SalvadorGuatemalaHaitiNicaraguaPeru; and Venezuela.

continue reading...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Arce Gomez reveals location of Marcelo Quiroga's remains

Luis Arce Gomez, the former Interior Minister to the brutal dictator Luis Garcia Meza has revealed the location of the remains of Marcelo Quiroga (left). Marcelo Quiroga was a tireless champion for democratic socialism in Bolivia, founder of the Bolivian Socialist party, and murdered during the Meza's 1980 "Cocaine Coup". 

Gomez has revealed that Quiroga's remains were flown to Santa Cruz and buried on the property of Hugo Banzer's private home, the US backed rightwing dictator who ruled during the 1970s. Try to act surprised. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Photo of the Day

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dancing with Dynamite

Kari Lydersen, In These Times

Reviewed: Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America by Benjamin Dangl, (October, 2010: AK Press).

What happens after you win?

That is, as fearless grassroots social movements have brought leftist, pro-worker parties to power in one after another Latin American country during the past decade, how do these movements maintain true democracy and commitment to the rights of the marginalized once faced with the challenge of a neoliberal global economy?

After the wave of worker factory takeovers following its economic collapse a decade ago, such questions played out on smaller scales in Argentina. Taking cooperative control of the factories was only the first step; the workers had to actually run them competitively in a capitalist economy. Similarly, after movements of union members, indigenous activists and other previously marginalized people bring leaders like Bolivian Evo Morales and Venezuelan Hugo Chavez to power, how do they make sure their struggles aren't declawed and co-opted by the new government?

In his captivating book Dancing with Dynamite, Ben Dangl explores the complicated choreography between unfettered popular struggle and the state institutions that are necessary to a functioning civil society—yet by nature are forces of moderation, compromise and cooperation.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The anti-racism and discrimination law in Bolivia

Andean Information Network

On October 8, Bolivian President Evo Morales signed the “Law against Racism and all Forms of Discrimination” (O45) into effect.  Despite protests from journalists across the country, the Bolivian Legislative Assembly passed the law without modifying contested articles 16 and 23, which outline potential penalties for members of the media who publish racist or discriminatory ideas

While the majority of national and international criticism has focused on how this law might potentially limit freedom of speech in Bolivia, the measure’s twenty-four articles go far beyond simply regulating the media to combat racism and discrimination in all public and private institutions. International accords on racism and discrimination provide the foundation to address the long history of these problems in Bolivia.

The Bolivian representative of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (UNHCHR), Denis Racicot, declared support for this new law, but has cautioned the Bolivian government to implement these changes carefully and gradually, and concentrate on resolving the current dispute with the Bolivian press. It remains to be seen how the Morales administration will address the current conflict. Law 045 has the potential to bring much needed change to Bolivia, but its stipulations and penalties must be clearly defined and sensibly executed to quell the current conflict. Furthermore, press protests about the possible prosecution under the law fail to recognize, that, when accused, clauses in Article 23 allow the offender to formally apologize for racist or discriminatory insults to avoid penalties.  The media should work with the MAS administration to ensure that penalties for the press are appropriate to the violation (e.g. community service over prison sentences) and do not limit free speech.  Furthermore, Bolivian law has placed limits on freedom of the press since the passage of the Press Law in 1925.  This new legislation includes racism and discrimination as additional limitations.

continue reading...

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

"Hostland": Yes, it is a conspiracy

US Military training film (1968) showing psychological operations in "Hostland," a mythical (probably Latin American) country, designed to aid the host government in gaining the support of the population. From the Internet Media Archive:

Monday, October 04, 2010

Morales knees opposition in the balls

From IKNThis is must-see footage. Over the weekend President Evo Morales played in a 'friendly' football (soccer if you like) game for the government MAS team versus the opposition MSM party, the party that holds the mayorship of La Paz. After a dirty tackle and some sort of mouthing off by the MSM team, Evo took justice into his own hands, footy field style

MSM is a center-left party that officially broke its coalition with MAS earlier this year before municipal and regional elections. Tension between the parties rose several weeks ago after it was announced that the Mayor of La Paz, here the MSM team captian, is under investigation for corruption.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Marcela Sanchez misses the mark on Morales

Andean Information Network

Marcela Sanchez’ article, “Ambition’s Costs — The Ongoing Evolution of Bolivia’s Evo Morales,” published in theLatin American Herald Tribune comments on U.S. decertification of Bolivian drug control efforts, the draft anti-racism law, and ex-president’s Jorge Quiroga’s defamation sentence.  Sanchez she tries to connect these disparate issues with loose analysis and apparently little research.

In less than 800 words, Sanchez manages to misconstrue the dynamics of the drug trade, Morales’ alleged manipulation of the legal system and the potential impact of anti- racism legislation on freedom of the press in Bolivia.

continue reading...

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Morales: Nature, Forests, and Indigenous peoples are not for sale

Letter from Morales to the indigenous peoples of the world:

Indigenous brothers of the world:

I am deeply concerned because some pretend to use leaders and indigenous groups to promote the commoditization of nature and in particular of forest through the establishment of the REDD mechanism (Reduction Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) and its versions REDD+ REED++.

Every day an extension of forests and rainforest equivalent to 36,000 football fields disappears in the world. Each year 13 million hectares of forest and rain forest are lost. At this rate, the forests will disappear by the end of the century.

The forests and rainforest are the largest source of biodiversity. If deforestation continues, thousands of species, animals and plants will be lost forever. More than three quarters of accessible fresh water zones come from uptake zones in forests, hence the worsening of water quality when the forest condition deteriorates. Forests provide protection from flooding, erosion and natural disasters. They provide non-timber goods as well as timber goods. Forests are a source of natural medicines and healing elements not yet discovered. Forests and the rainforest are the lungs of the atmosphere. 18% of all emissions of greenhouse gases occurring in the world are caused by deforestation.

It is essential to stop the destruction of our Mother Earth.

continue reading...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Coup attempt in Ecuador

President Correa being pulled from tear gas attack by police (photo: Rueters)

An eventful day has transpired in Quito, Ecuador where a police mutiny against leftist President Correa ended in a botched rightwing coup attempt. IKN has been posting all day (like the true champ Otto is) and this Telegraph article gives a basic run down, and Eva Golinger gives the larger political and historical context. Correa is back in the Presidental Palace after the army rescued him from a siege at a hospital by the police (requiring a gun battle with as of this posting unclear casualties). 

Evo Morales has firmly denounced the coup attempt, "an attempted coup against ALBA and UNASUR", and called the defense of Correa a "defense of democracy, of Latin America, and the transformations occurring in Latin America" while claiming that the Ecuadorian right is trying to take down Correa with the help of the United States, "a conspiracy intended to end anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist presidents".

In Ecuador, Correa's supporters have come out onto the streets. And there are lots...

Update: More resources from Upside Down World

CONAIE on Attempted Coup (Ecuador's pan-indigenous organization)
Police Mutiny Threatens Democracy, Gonzalo Ortiz
Obama should oppose any attempted coup, CEPR statement

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why the US should follow Bolivia

Jonathan Schwarz, A Tiny Revolution

In the past, I have opposed killing and eating the rich. This is because on any kind of rational world scale, I am part of the rich.

More recently, however, I've been on the fence. People like Todd Henderson (Stutts '93) and Ben Stein (Stutts '66, Stutts Law '70) make me wonder whether we need to do it, even if I myself end up consumed in the ensuing orgy of cannibalism.

In fact, just one thing keeps me from endorsing this wholeheartedly. And it certainly isn't the character of our rich—the people who run the U.S., like Henderson and Stein, are mind-numbingly brutal, cruel and stupid, and will surely destroy us all unless they're stopped.

The problem is that the people who run America, and every other country on earth, have almost always been mind-numbingly brutal, cruel and stupid. Even the ones who aren't (in Sweden, maybe?) are no prize.

For instance, take a look at the below scene from the documentary Our Brand in Crisis. In it, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, a rich white presidential candidate in Bolivia, talks with his rich white acquaintances at a campaign event in the garden of his home. Everything about it could have happened in any number of countries in history—because elites aren't just always brutal, cruel and stupid, they're brutal, cruel and stupid in exactly the same ways. A demagogue has somehow illegitimately gained support among the poor! The poor are massing at the gates and about to attack us!

This leads me to believe the problem isn't one of bad individuals, but bad systems—and that these bad systems, since they're almost universal in human history, grow out of some aspect of human nature. Hence, eating the people at the top won't change much for very long. We'll just have to eat a new crop a few years later.

So what we need to do is figure out a system that leans against negative human tendencies, and accentuates positive ones. Killing and eating the rich probably won't get us anywhere. I just wish Todd Henderson and Ben Stein would stop making themselves look so very, very delicious.

Friday, September 17, 2010

'Blog from Bolivia' retiring

Jim Shultz of the Democracy Center gave us the news that he will be ending his six year old "Blog from Bolivia". As one of the few English language resources on Bolivia and a veteran voice on the country, his blog will be missed by all. However, fortunately from the sounds of it, Shultz will continue work from his Democracy Center on important issues from Bolivia, but in a fashion he currently feels more able and comfortable persuing. I wish him luck.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

How some people honor 9-11

Jorge Medina argues for legislation against racism in the Bolivian Plurinational Assembly

It may surprise you, but in other parts of the world 9-11 is not just about New York, mosques, and hateful preachers. Down south people tend to remember US backed fascist coup d'etas. In Bolivia, it is the second anniversary of the massacre of campesinos in Pando by paramilitaries of a US backed governor during the failed fascist coup attempt

In the effort to ensure such crimes never happen again, the Bolivian Plurinational Assembly passed new legislation against racism for the anniversary. The intention is to criminalize the insidious politics and journalism of hate which created the atmosphere in which the Pando massacre and fascist coup became a possibility. Imagine that.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Iran continues conquest of Latin America

Belén Fernández

Yesterday in Washington, D.C, I encountered a Bolivian immigrant named David who had just returned from a trip to La Paz in order to verify that Evo Morales was not in the process of expropriating his house in his absence and who informed me that other world leaders were taking advantage of Morales’ minimal education level to fill in the gaps with their own ideologies. It turned out that the list of usual culprits had been expanded to consist not only of the presidents of Venezuela and Ecuador but that of Iran, as well, whose first ambassador to Bolivia met with Morales this week.

continue reading...

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

CNN misrepresents Quiroga conviction

By Andean Information Network

On September 6, ex-Bolivian president Jorge Quiroga and his lawyer responded to court conviction of Quiroga’s for defamation, slander, and libel against Union Bank.  The charges refer to Quiroga’s statements on February 6, 2009, when he denounced Union Bank as an outlet for corrupt money laundering. Quiroga’s accusations occurred shortly after Jorge O’Connor D’Arlach, a petroleum contractor, was murdered and accused of planning to bribe state officials at YPFB, Bolivia’s national gas company, for $450,000 USD, that he withdrew from Union Bank.  Quiroga publicly stated, “An independent board should audit Union Bank, because it has become a laundering [service] for Chavez’s resources, for corruption and ill-obtained money for this government to use.”

Media Misrepresents Case Details

Both the Bolivian media and US-based CNN have misrepresented national laws and the circumstances of the case, supporting intentionally or unwittingly Quiroga’s assertions that, because the Bolivian government owns 83% of the bank’s shares, the Morales administration is trying to punish him as an opposition leader and prevent him from running for future public office. Although the government is a major shareholder, Quiroga’s trial is private, not government, initiative.  Several media sources, as well as the press release from Quiroga’s legal team, have stated that the ruling lacks legal foundation, although the charges and the sentence comply with the stipulations of Bolivian criminal codes.

Although clearly the Morales administration harbors resentment against Quiroga, vocal opponent and author of the military forced coca eradication program from 1997-2002, there is little leeway in this case for judicial manipulation.  Legal norms used to prosecute him were all passed before Morales came to office.  Oddly, under Bolivian law, Quiroga could have nullified the charges against him by merely publically retracting his statements, quickly ending any potential perceived political persecution in the case.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Washington Post dreams lithium while Bolivia moves ahead

Evo Morales in South Korea signs lithium agreement with S.Korean President Lee Myung-bak

In the backward third-world country called the United States, one of their major news papers, The Washington Post, has got word about this new shiny metal called lithium. They have discovered that it is very important for the production of electronics and in the distant future, one day, they may even be able to manufacture batteries for electric cars- once they rediscover how to build a functioning automobile. 

It also turns out that lots of this lithium stuff is located outside of US military control, in this country called Bolivia. Brian Palmer for the WaPo explains:

Bolivia, too, has vast deposits and has also started to refer to itself as "the Saudi Arabia of lithium."

Err, maybe I missed the banners in the Ministry of Mining. Which Bolivians are saying this again?

An article in the New Yorker...

Oh, for a thorough take down of the New Yorker Lawrence Wright's parachute journalism on Bolivia and lithium, see the Andean Information Network. What else did this New Yorker article claim that the Washington Post is now reprinting five months later as "news"?

New Yorker in March detailed the trouble Bolivia is having attracting investors to its lithium, mainly because of inadequate infrastructure and President Evo Morales's predilection for nationalization.

We can confirm this fact using the advanced research tool known as Google (careful: may require ten years of uni to operate). And we find that five days ago, Morales was in this country called South Korea (do they make electronics or something?) to sign a memorandum of understanding for a joint pilot lithium research and processing project. Gosh, that nationalization thing sure is a terrible thing. When will Morales wake up to the desires of Wall Street the international market?

Maybe they will let us know when the US press corp wakes up to the 21st century.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Why we should not romanticize Potosí

An odd thing has happened in the last couple weeks. Observers of Bolivian politics from the Andean Information Network, to Federico Fuentes, to Jeffery Webber and Ben Dangl have come to the conclusion that recent protests in Potosí represent the "rupture" between the MAS led government and popular revolutionary classes in Bolivia. This is a delusional position for a number of reasons.

There is no doubt the protests represent a rupture between MAS and a population which has been previously very supportive of its politics. However, MAS has conflicted with its supportive base before and will continue to in the future. Accessing the relative importance and character of this lastest break requires careful and specific analysis. 

1. All of these analyses ignore the question of contraband law, which orginially sparked the protests and roadblocks, and of which I previously wrote. At best, Jeffery Webber dimisses the question as unimportant.
2. There is no denying that broad demands relating to regional poverty and unfullfilled expectations in Potosí played an important part in fueling the protests. However, ignoring the question of contraband and the reactionary character of the elite civicos leading the protests has lead our authors astray, writing about the protests as if they were some kind of proletarian or multidudian popular rebellion. The simple fact that protests never spread beyond Potosí and were assuaged quickely in Oruro attests to the limited regionalist nature of the protests.

3. Romanticizing the leftist nature of the protests has led to sloppying analysis, casting the Potosí protest together with distintically different challenges to MAS from other sectors over the past six months. Fuentes, Webber, and Dangl breathlessly tie the Potosí protest to the indigenous CIDOB march and few even pachamamismo. The Potosí civicos were not demanding MAS deepen the revolutionary process, radically apply the new constitution, or impliment the October Agenda. Where were the demands for nationalization? Instead the civicos simply demanded more money, infrastructure, and mineral explotive projects be brought to the region. In practical terms these demands put Potosí in conflict with pachamamismo and the environmental grievences of Mesa 18.

4. There is no doubt that now that the rightwing is defeated in national politics MAS is facing challenges from different sectors of its base. But do these desperate protests yet represent a united radical leftist synthesis challenging the current leftist government? Only in the imaginations of some authors.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

CIA dumber than they look

So, the apparently the super dirty secret released by Wikileaks yesterday is the mind blowing CIA memo that the United States is an exporter of terrorism. Wow! Like who could have guessed? And not only that. But according to the memo the CIA is concerned as to what will happen if the rest of the world figures out this obscure fact.

Here is some news, dumbass. The rest of the world already views the US as the number one exporter of terrorism. Try harder next time.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bolivia actually had a national costume

I just want to say, that Miss Bolivia, Claudia Arce, at least had a real national costume. The traditional Quechua dress of her native Chuquisaca region of Bolivia. Beautiful and authentic to the point that you would never find a white girl like her walking around in one outside of a entrada or beauty pagent. I mean WTF Mexico!, and don't even get me started on Miss USA, Miss Polish Hussar. Mex Files has explaining to do.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Good 'Ol days

Otto at Inca Kola News remembers the good old days of Bolivian democracy before that dirty commie Evo Morales destroyed the country. Back when men of character ran things right.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Schipani Dramatizes Bolivian Drug Control Efforts and MAS Official’s Role

The Andean Information Network
August 16, 2010

Andres Schipani’s article, “Jessica Anne Jordan Burton: beauty queen defies cartel beasts in Bolivia’s war on cocaine,” presents an inaccurate, hyperbolic, and sexist account, which projects narrow-minded generalizations and grossly distorts the current reality of Bolivian drug policy.  Unfortunately, this erroneous portrayal has been widely reprinted and quoted in the English-speaking press.

Inaccurate or incomplete information appears in almost every line. The misrepresentation of Jordan loosely camouflages an improvised dramatization of the dynamics of drug trafficking in Bolivia. 

continue reading...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rosza informed CIA of plans to attack Venezuelan and Cuban humanitarian missions

According to the investigation lead by Bolivian anthropologist Wilson Garcia Merida of communications between the right-wing mercenary Eduardo Rosza and his CIA handler "Scorpion B", Istvan Belovai, Rosza hatched plans to attack Venezuelan and Cuban humanitarian missions in Bolivia. 

Eduardo Rosza was a Croatian-Bolivian professional mercenary hired by the fascist civic leaders of Santa Cruz to spark a civil war through terrorist attacks and advise in the formation of paramilitary groups. Rosza's mercenary cell was broken up by Bolivian police last year in Santa Cruz, an operation in which Rosza was killed. Among his personal belongings were discovered communications with known CIA asset Istvan Belovai, a friend of Rosza from the 1990s Balkans Wars. 

The new investigation reveals that Rosza informed Belovai of specific attack plans such as the murder of Venezuelan and Cuban aid workers in the Bolivian Amazonian department of Beni. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Potosí and contrapalabra

Protests in Potosí, photo ABI

Following two weeks of protest and road blocks in the southern Bolivian department of Potosí, analysis of this complex political event have multiplied to the point of obscurity and utter confusion.  Even  veteran authoritative observers are falling into traps. So, I want to clarify one point.

What are these protests about?

Well, a lot of things. From roads, to airports, to political boundries, and mining investments. But to help clarify the significance of all of these demands, it would be helpful to ask what specifically triggered the start of these protests?

In contrast to what the usually authoritative Andean Information Network and Federico Fuentes put forward, the Potosí roadblocks did not begin with demands for regional development projects, or a dispute over the political boundry between Potosí and Oruro. The protests began in reaction to the passage of an anti-contraband law, designed to crack down on the prolific traffic in contraband goods through Potosí and Oruro. The sectors that raised protest against this law were the wealthly civic sectors that run the illegal trade and will lose money from its limit, the contrabandistas. 

That is to say, the spark of these protests was not all that different from a few months ago when taxi drivers went on strike to protest the passage of an anti-drunk driving law. A sector demanding it be allowed to continue outright harmful and illegal behavior.

However, such a demand is not politically sustainable over time. So, additional demands and grievences have been added continously over the weeks in order to both build regional support for the roadblocks and wear out the government, to make an impossible demand viable.

In the poorest region of Bolivia striking up legitimate grievences is not difficult, especially in contrast to the immense mineral wealth of the region. However, the civic sectors leading the strike ran into another problem in this regard. The government's willingness to negotiate these additional legitimate demands. So, they have placed impossible symbolic demands on the negotiation.

First, they were unwilling to travel to La Paz to meet and negotiate and when the Morales' government offered to change venue to Sucre, they demanded that negotiations could only take place if Morales showed up in person, as opposed to his ministers (at the same moment Morales was scheduled to travel abroad). 

The Andean Information Network has discounted the Morales' claim of rightwing elite sectors behind the protest as well as comparison to the regionalist Capitalia protests in Sucre in 2007 citing the broad based regional demands and local MAS politicians apart of the protests. However, both characeristics were apart of the Capitalia protests- with initial local MAS politician support and negotiations over airports, development projects ect. Niether negates the character of original intent or lead actors.

As with the regionalist Capitalia movement, the contradictions born of elite civic demands and legitimate popular grievences will come to ahead eventually, in some form or another. What the consequences will be for the Morales government, MAS party, and national politics, I cannot say or anticipate at this moment. But I do imagine they will be less dire than the current press pundits in Bolivia and abroad are now saying.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ukamau y Ke - La Ciudad de los Ciegos (2010)

Via Rebel Sounds, Ukamau y Ke's 2010 album La Ciudad de los Ciegos

01. La ciudad de los ciegos
02. La naturaleza despierta
03. La personal
04. Dos clases
05. El inmigrante
06. Medios mentirosos
07. Libertad para los pueblos
08. El sistema tiene fallas
09. No más guerras
10. Ya se levantan
11. Medios mentirosos (Version original)