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)


Saturday, August 07, 2010

Jean Friedman-Rudovsky: How Green Is Evo Morales?

The excellent Jean Friedman-Rudovsky's latest piece on Evo, evaluating his administrations at times contradictory environmental policies, goes beyond the usual "carping critic" of western observers. That goes something like this:

Ignorant gringo: OMG! Evo Morales is an Indian who wants to save Mother Earth, WE ARE SAVED!

Ignorant gringo two weeks later: You know what I just read. That in Bolivia, they have huge mines that pollute the water, rivers, and kills fish. Evo is such a hypocrytical asshole. He must just be a dirty demagogic commie. The New York Times was right! 

Ignorant gringo later that day: Gosh, politics is so stupid. I am just going to blog about my feelings and work on my compost pit.

Instead of devolving into a delusional egoistic apolitical spiral, someone like Jean, actually asks those crazy Indians what they think about these problems and contradictions. What you end up with is a more complicated story that is far from over, in which Evo is only one actor trying to balance the demands and needs of a whole fucking country in a genuine effort to improve the daily lives of Bolivians.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Bolivia denies slave holder rights while US contemplates legalizing slavery

Yesterday, Bolivian National Agrarian Tribunal rejected US slaver Ronald Larsen's challenge to Morales governments' seizure of his ranch in Santa Cruz and redistribution to 2,000 indigenous Guarani families, many of whom he held in indentured servitude. While at the same moment US lawmakers are considering abolishing the 14th Amendment to end the legal ambiguity of "illegal" migrant labor and simply reinstitute slavery.