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Bolivia: Washington opening another front?

Granma International - Havan - 28 March 2006

BOLIVIA: Washington opening another front?

Bush administration appears to be initiating harassment of Evo Morales’ government

BY JUANA CARRASCO MARTIN-Special for Granma International-

EVEN before Evo Morales won the presidential elections on December 15, 2005 and took possession on January 22, his government entered one of Washington’s exclusion lists, in this case one of "populism," an epithet that serves the White House and the U.S. State Department, in charge of issuing warnings, to denote an executive that does not please or suit them.

One then hears talk of a situation unfavorable to investments, economic problems in sight, nationalism and anti-Americanism, attacks on democracy, threats to U.S. security, non-advisable relations and other phrases of a probable equation that is not at all favorable to U.S. interests.

It would not appear to be heartening for the North that the first indigenous president of a country with a majority indigenous population has gained the executive seat with the support of those who wish for and need a new and distinct constitution that recognizes the rights and development needs of everyone, an improved distribution of assets, sovereignty and independence, one that will re-found the country. Neither is it satisfied with the just claim to nationalize resources that were privatized at the cost of greater poverty for those disfavored by fortune (there is already talk of taking control of the assets of 10 companies managing strategic sectors like telecommunications, oil, railroads, electricity and the national airline. Nor do they like the accompanying look by Bolivians towards their equals in Latin America, in search of relations that include solidarity - another vituperative word in Washington - as an essential component.

Thus the attacks have not been long in coming in order to add salt to the pepper that oligarchic sectors in the interior of the country are also scattering on a Revolution that they see coming.

This became apparent at the end of February when a U.S. entry visa was withdrawn from Senator Leonilda Zurita of the MAS (Movement Toward Socialism), the party of President Evo Morales, she herself being a indigenous woman and one of his closest collaborators, with the absurd argument that she is involved in acts of terrorism. Leonilda Zurita had participated in a conference at the invitation of a U.S. university. That action was qualified by many as a reprisal and discrimination affecting the dignity of the Bolivian people.

Then came the de-certification by the U.S. army of the Joint Force against Terrorism (FCTC) through the reshuffle of its commander and the non-acceptance of the Bolivian nominee, which made President Morales affirm that they rejected "coercion, threats and intimidation... we do not accept the veto... Bolivia has its dignity... and no commander is going to be changed at the request of the U.S. armed forces."

And the most recent, during the night of March 23, two powerful explosions in two modest hotels in La Paz led to the death of two people and injuries to 11. The attack was committed by a U.S. citizen Claudius Lestat D’Orleans, and Uruguayan Aida Ribeiro Acosta.

Immediately, President Evo Morales stated: "It is not admissible that when we are in that transformation to a democratic and cultural revolution in order to live well, there should be that class of attack," and attributed the criminal action to an oligarchic and external groups. "The U.S. government is fighting terrorism and is sending us U.S. citizens to engage in terrorism in Bolivia," he affirmed in Santa Cruz.

For his part, Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca ratified the political nature of the aggression, which he blamed on economic groups prepared to create an environment of democratic instability. Coincidentally, a few days before the explosions, the Bolivian leader had said: "We are never going to renegotiate the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States," and proposed as an alternative the Trade Treaty of the Peoples (TCP), alleging that it was just and reasonable to regard as unacceptable that certain foreign enterprises should invade Latin American countries with their subsidized products, which he added was something totally discounted by Bolivia.

Currently, Bolivia can export textiles, timber products and jewelry to the United States without tariff charges through the Andean Trade Promotion and Eradication of Drugs Act, which expires in December this year. Washington’s idea is to replace it with just the so-called Free Trade Agreement.

Added to these circumstances and backed up by the statements from top Bolivian leaders, the explosives attacks coincide with the preparatory phase of the Constituent Assembly, when political parties and social organizations are taking part in intense activities with a view to deciding their candidates in the agency that is to determine the new constitution, one that will re-found a Republic of greater socioeconomic opportunities and give access to the land to those who work it, the basic services that are inalienable human rights, and government representation. Those elections are programmed for Sunday, July 2.

Moreover, the national police have affirmed that the couple were planning to plant another explosive device in the offices of the Chilean consulate in La Paz, which would have caused a diplomatic conflict with that neighboring country, when another of the intentions of the Evo Morales government is to attain a definitive agreement over a sea exit, which will break with Bolivia’s landlocked status imposed by the War of the Pacific (1879-1883).

If the hand of the CIA, the U.S. sinister espionage and dirty warfare agency, or that of another security institution in the empire is behind the attack, it is a matter to take into account when the double game of the carrot and the stick to remove Evo Morales from the presidency or, at least, to neutralize him, is already evident.

In that context, we agree with this description by analyst Jorge Luis Ubartelli, in an article published in Rebelión, that Washington has three objectives: to isolate Bolivia from Venezuela and Cuba as the principal elements of an anti-imperialist axis; to oblige the country to negotiate integral agreements of subjection - the FTA being the immediate case - with the United States in unequal conditions; and to prepare the conditions to destabilize the Bolivian government if it fails to achieve the first two.

There is no doubt that the Bolivian front is within U.S. strategic plans for this hemisphere and that the latter will not hesitate to utilize any means of keeping it in the fold.

 source: Granma