Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Bolivia Under Attack
From Chomsky in Boston to Evo in Bolivia, things have been a bit busy for me this month. Sorry for the slacking on the Blog, but duty calls!
Evo's government has been hard core against US imperialism from the beginning, but the situation is not so simple. Evo told me that when he won the presidency and assumed office in January 2006, the CIA actually had its headquarters inside the Bolivian presidential palace! Now that's interference!! Of course, Evo kicked them out of the palace, but getting them out of the country is not so easy. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the funding arm of the Department of State, has major investments in Bolivia. In fact, Bolivia is the recipient of more USAID funding than any other nation in Latin America. More than $120 million annually in US taxpayer dollars are being pumped into destabilizing Bolivia and its democratic (and indigenous) government. But the most incredulous part of it all is that approximately 70% of that $120 million doesn't even make it to Bolivia. Those US taxpayer dollars allegedly being used to fund "humanitarian" and "development" efforts in impoverished Bolivia are actually being used to finance inflated executive salaries and administrative costs of US corporation and military industrial complex player, CHEMONICS, INT'L.
Yes, that's how US intervention works. It's a money-making scheme just like everything else involved in US capitalism. USAID figures, poor little Bolivian opposition groups are happy receiving $2,000 - $5,000 per month as salaries, so lets give the US executives in the corporation that administers those funds $25,000 per month wages. Yeah, I guess that's what it costs to convince a US executive to destabilize an impoverished Latin American nation. And Chemonics has a contract with USAID in Bolivia for that whopping $120/year until 2011. That's a nice $1.5 million per Chemonics executive to try and undermine and overthrow the Evo Morales government. Oh, and remember those are US taxpayer (hard-earned in most cases) dollars.
USAID-Chemonics in Bolivia are everywhere. They run 6 official programs in the areas of Democracy (HA!), Alternative Integral Development, Environmental Issues, Healthcare and Economic Opportunities (capitalism). On top of that, USAID set up an Office for Transition Initiatives (OTI), just like it did in Venezuela after the failed coup d'etat against Chávez in April 2002, that manages an additional $13.3 million budget and contracts military industrial complex corporation, Casals & Associates, to "promote democracy" and "stabilize" the nation.
At the end of August, Evo and his Minister of the Presidency, Juan Ramón Quintana, called the bluff on USAID and it's "official cooperation" in Bolivia. They told the US government that if they want to continue cooperating in Bolivia, they will have to abide by the rules. And these guys are not joking. Last week, on October 10, 2007, Evo had an Executive Supreme Decree approved by Bolivia's Supreme Court, that prohibits international funding of activities in Bolivia without state regulation. Furthermore, the Decree sets out strict guidelines for such funding and does away with "third party contractors". Bye bye Chemonics and Casals & Associates. Venezuela should take Bolivia's example and do the same. Maybe that way we could finally get rid of USAID's OTI and it's private contracter, Development Alternatives, Inc., and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and it's core groups that have been undermining Venezuela's democracy since 2001: International Republican Institute (IRI), National Democratic Institute (NDI), Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS).
I'm not so naïve as to believe that the US will actually abide by the Supreme Decree 29308 passed on October 10, 2007 in Bolivia. But in any case, it is a step forward against US aggression and intervention.
The US has already reacted in a cynical and racist way by sending its Ambassador in Bolivia, Philip Goldberg, to make fun of Evo publicly. When Evo spoke before the UN General Assembly meeting in September in New York City, he reiterated declarations made by Chávez last year: the member nations of the UN should consider moving the official headquarters to another country besides the US. Why did Evo, like Chávez, make such remarks? Because the US denied visas to the members of his official delegation, impeded the arrival of his airplane to JFK airport and gave him and his functionaries a hard time. These guys really have a point. If the US is going to make it difficult for international delegations to attend UN functions than maybe the meetings should take place somewhere less hostile.
But the US reaction was much less rational. Ambassador Goldberg responded by declaring he wouldn't be surprised if Evo also proposed to move the headquarters of Disneyland to a country outside the US. When Evo got rightfully pissed off, Goldberg said he was just trying to "break the ice" between the two nations. We know from William Brownfield's (August 2004-August 2007) and Charles Shapiro's (March 2002-July 2004) behavior as ambassadors in Venezuela that the US Department of State is in desperate need of an expert teacher in "tactiful diplomatic behavior". Evo and Minister Juan Ramón Quintana have announced Goldberg will soon be a "persona non grata" if he doesn't apologize to the people of Bolivia and their elected government.
Beware of an increase in US agression towards Bolivia. President Chavez has said that Venezuela will respond with full force if the US moves against Evo Morales and the people of Bolivia. All people around the world should take the same stance.