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.