Friday, September 12, 2008

South American solidarity with Bolivia

Simón Bolívar el Libertador and José de San Martín, liberator of Perú and Chile

The Bolivian Ambassador to the US is also being sent home. Venezuela is expelling the US Ambassador there, Patrick Duddy, in solidarity with Bolivia (Chávez expulsa al embajador de EEUU en solidaridad con Bolivia El Mundo [Spain] 12.09.08). Chávez reminded the US at the same time that if the US attacks Venezuela - yeah, like Bush's disaster of a foreign policy leaves that as any option - he will suspend crude oil exports. Plus, he's buying new Russian fighter planes.

Chávez, who isn't famous for delicate diplomatic language, threatened none too subtly to break relations with the US entirely. He may also be ticked because Venezuela is reporting having foiled another planned coup attempt. This week. (Desmantelado un golpe contra Chávez El Mundo [Spain] 12.09.08El Mundo [Spain] 12.09.08) Chávez' government is accusing former Defense Minister Raúl Isaías Baduel of being behind it.

Meanwhile, the Argentine government is accusing the FBI of "political operations" in the accusations that Venezuela injected illegal campaign contributions into Cristina Fernández' successful electoral campaign. (Dura respuesta: el Gobierno responsabiliza a EE.UU. de "operaciones políticas" Clarín [Argentina]11.09.2008)

What the hell is going on down there? Did Cheney tell the CIA to try to make as big a mess as possible in South America before he turns his office over to the White Princess of Pentecostal Christian Zionism?

Chávez also declared that if Morales is deposed or killed by rebels, he is prepared to support a pro-democracy armed struggle in Bolivia, including direct intervention. (Chávez anuncia apoyo "armado" a Bolivia si Morales es "derrocado" El Deber/AFP [Bolivia] 11.09.2008) He said:

Si la oligarquía y los pitiyanquis dirigidos, financiados y armados por el imperio (de Estados Unidos) derrocan algún gobierno nuestro tendríamos luz verde para iniciar operaciones de cualquier tipo para restituir el poder al pueblo en esos países hermanos".

(If the oligarchy and the Yankee imitators directed, financed and armed by the empire [of the United States] outst any government of ours, we will have to give a green light to initiate operations of whatever kind to restore the power to the people in these brother countries.)
Seriously, we can't assume that everything like this that happens has the CIA behind it. But it's a pretty safe bet that we'll find out sooner or later that the CIA and maybe rogue Special Forces directed by the Pentagon are involved in the ugly business in Bolivia. I'm sure one of the reasons that other South American governments are expressing solidarity with Morales' regime in Bolivia is that the operation there looks an awful lot like the buildup to the coup in Chile in 1973. But as of now, I don't know of any hard evidence in the public record of the CIA or the Pentagon's involvement.

You know, if the Democratic leadership in Congress could take enough time away from kissing up to telecom lobbyists and the like, they could be holding public hearings on this and finding out just what kind of risks the outgoing Bush administration is creating for us in Latin America. We can always dream.

Venezuela isn't acting as a "rogue state" in this, though. Despite the criticism for the Cheney-Bush government, Chávez is a democratically elected president whose opposition has proven surprisingly inept, so far. Evo Morales' government facing a separatist insurrection by petroleum oligarchs with a far-right thug group as muscle, is also democratically elected.

So is the Argentinian government of Cristina Fernández, who just announced her support for the Bolivian government in this crisis. She is conferring with Brasilian President Lula da Silva and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on the crisis. A group composed of Brasil, Argentina and Colombia are offering to mediate in the conflicct between the Bolivian national government and the rebel leaders in the five most affected provinces: Tarija, Santa Cruz, Chuquisaca, Beni and Pando. (Grupo de Amigos de Bolivia ofrece mediar en el conflicto El Nuevo Día [Bolivia] 12.09.2008)

Essentially, Bolivia has five provinces in a state of rebellion.

Bolivian troops are moving in to retake Santa Cruz from separatist rebels

In Bolivia, Morales has not declared a state of emergency and appears to be trying to avoid any military clashes that would unnecessarily inflame the situation or give the separatists a basis to claim government atrocities. But with the separatists seizing government buildings, bombing the gas pipeline to Brasil and Argentina, and even taking control of the city of Santa Cruz, the government can't delay very long in taking military action. El Mundo (Bolivia) has an AP report that 10 people died in the city of Cobija in the northeast in clashes between separtists rebels and pro-government farmworkers. (Matanza en Cobija en enfrentamientos entre campesinos y autonomistas 11.09.2008) The report also says in the southern city of Tarija, pro-government labor-unionists fought it out with rebels, with both sides using "sticks, rocks and dynamite."

Nine are reported dead in fighting in Pando (Nueve muertos en Pando y el ‘Vice’ lanza amenazas El Nuevo Día [Bolivia] 12.09.2008), seven pro-government farmworkers and two rebels. Others are missing and 50 are reported wounded.

El Mundo (Bolivia) also reports that the national government is sending troops into Santa Cruz to retake the city from the Falangist rebels (Gobierno instruyó a militares entrar en acción en Santa Cruz 11.09.2008) The report says that as of 8:00PM Thursday, 400 government troops were headed toward the city.

I haven't seen any indication so far of significant disloyalty among the armed forces. Although in one or two cases of government facilities being seized, I did wonder how much resistance defending troops put up against the rebels.

Morales warned the rebel leaders in the five provinces on Wednesday that the government's patience had its limits and that he was prepared to take "radical measures" against those who have seized government buildings if they don't back off pronto.

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