The End of Electoral Contests in Latin America?

Source:  La Santa Mambisa

March 12 2018

by Alfredo Serrano Mancilla

(Translated by Keith Ellis)

the end of electoral politics.jpeg The contest in Latin America is no longer primarily electoral. The conservative rollback has other mechanisms that are not necessarily the ballot box. The chosen route is almost always something else.  Each case is different: it all depends on the country in question.  They use one tool or another depending on the scenario and on what tools are available.

Each context determines the method of intervention chosen to block or eliminate the progressive forces.  If they still have control of the Judicial Power, that path is used to proceed against them.  If what they enjoy is Legislative Power, a parliamentary coup is what is resorted to.  And always, wherever it may be, Economic Power and the Power of the Media act in unison.  The first will use all its weapons to disrupt whatever economic and social equilibrium has been achieved; and the second will undermine the image with falsehoods or fake news that end up being part of the destructive common sense.  And from this list of powers the Power of the “International Community” is never missing, for it is always ready to apply all the possible forms of pressure to delegitimize progressive options, whenever they can, or legitimize undemocratic options that are suitable for their interests.

  • In Brazil, the stupid judicial excuse they are putting forward shows that they are clearly not going to allow Lula to take part in the elections. Before that, they had already removed Dilma from the presidency, by means of a parliamentary coup using the ridiculous pretext of “fiscal manipulation.”  Judicial and Legislative Powers, together with Economic and Media Powers, and with the power of international complicity, are all combined for a “win” without them having to go through polls.  Temer governs as a democrat despite not having to present himself as a presidential candidate.
  • Ecuador, a different scenario and different methods. Correa’s successor was used to prevent his party, the “Revolution of the Citizenry,” from continuing in power.  Thanks to a pact between the current president Lenin and the old democratic party, there was an agreement made, without consulting the Constitutional Court, that had the sole objective of preventing Correa from participating in a new presidential contest. Thus, a new model: the rollback from within.  The opposition took part in the elections and lost.  But that was no obstacle to its winning the political battle, thanks to the resentment—of Lenin and of a certain part of his party—against Correa.  The banking sector and all the media joined the new rollback consensus with the intention of ending the progressive cycle embodied in the figure of Correa.
  • In Argentina, there was quite a notable communicational and economic onslaught, but the electoral route was sufficient to put an end to the Kirchner period. The opposition had an advantage: Scioli, her successor, not Cristina, was the candidate.  The opposition just barely won.  And then quickly brought on judicial arrests, open trials, biased press coverage.  It is still too early to know how the presidential dispute will turn out in 2019.  But if it is necessary to prevent Cristina, or any other potentially winning candidate, from contesting the election, let no one doubt that the attempt will be made to do it in a judicial or parliamentary way.
  • In Venezuela everything is being amplified.  The latest development has been the most evident: the opposition has definitely decided not to participate in the elections.  It has thus demonstrated that it has no interest in the electoral route for achieving political power.  In fact, in this country, in 2002, an orthodox coup d’état was attempteda running unconventional coup has been tried, along with a sustained high-intensity economic war (via prices and shortages); there has been violence in the street causing many deaths; social uprising has been tried in order to overthrow the president; there have been US decrees, threats and a blockade; the whole gang has been deployed (OAS, European Parliament, Lima Group, Mercosur, Country Risk, International Banking). And now, finally, they have the idea of not participating in elections.  Strange democrats these, who do not believe in democratic rules when they anticipate losing.  The interesting thing about this case is that in Venezuela, the current government is fully aware that the field of dispute is as much in the electoral as in other areas.  And this allows Maduro to be a “survivor” in this new phase.
  • In Bolivia,something similar happened.  The recall referendum was obstructed by a reality show that hurt the popularity of Evo.  The heavy artillery will come ahead of the presidential election in 2019.  However, the president has understood for some time, since the attempts at democratic interruption at the stage of the Constituent Assembly, that this dispute is multifaceted. It does not mean that it will be easy, and everything is possible from now on.  But so far, Evo aims to be the other “survivor” to this rollback onslaught.  He has overcome the last great obstacle: finding the legal mechanism that would allow him to stand for re-election.  He was aware that, because of it, he would be criticized, but he preferred this to putting in jeopardy the continuity of the project.  It was a wise decision to continue moving forward with the approval of the Bolivian people.

We are definitely facing another historical phase of the 21st century in this “Contested Latin America”. The electoral aspect counts, but it is not the only path chosen in order to end the progressive cycle.  Some have always known it, and others have learned it by having suffered it in their own experience. The field of political dispute is more and more complex: votes are necessary, but so are economic, media, legislative, judicial and international power. And military power, although it seems a matter of the past, we should never ignore it, because it is always more present than we imagine.

Bolivia: Evo Morales Presents Govt. Progress Report

Source:  TeleSUR
January 22 2018

The Indigenous leader showed a graph with data proving that Bolivia is the “first in economic growth in all of South America.”

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Bolivian President Evo Morales. | Photo: Reuters

Bolivian President Evo Morales has presented a report on government progress under his administration to the country’s Plurinational Legislative Assembly on the 12th anniversary of its foundation.

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“There are already 12 years of social and political stability, 12 years of the formation of the Plurinational State, and I am here to give an account to all the Bolivian people,” Morales said, thanking those who accompanied him during his administration.

The people came to power

The head of state said “the presence of assembly members of all colors, of all sectors, is proof that the people came to power.”

Morales said that his country’s economic, political and social achievements have made Bolivia one of the fastest-developing and improving economies in South America.

“We have showed that our beloved Bolivia is moving forward. We have important data from international organizations where we demonstrate the growth of our nation and the union of the Bolivian people.”

First in economic growth

The Indigenous president showed a graph with data from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund proving that Bolivia is the “first in economic growth in all of South America.”

He compared growth between 1994-2005 to 2006-2017, pointing out that GDP boosted significantly during his tenure.

“Despite international economic onslaught, we continue to grow and become one of the economic engines of Latin America,” Morales said.

The Bolivian leader also highlighted government support for public investment, demonstrating that the central government supported governorates, municipalities and universities in the execution of their projects.

Bolivia, Trinidad Launch Anti-Violence Carnival Campaigns

Source: TeleSur
February 10 2018
bolivia trinidad carnival campaigns.jpg

Women are statistically more likely to be subjected to violence and sexual harassment during the annual carnival celebrations. | Photo: EFE

Bolivia is also boosting awareness of the Law to Guarantee Women a Life Free From Violence, which, according to the United Nations, has yet to reduce femicide.

Bolivia Without Violence is launching a “Carnival without excess, without violence” campaign aimed at reducing crime during the annual celebrations and encouraging men to treat women and girls with respect.

Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago: Women Fight Abuse During Carnival

Bolivia Without Violence is made up of private, public and international organizations, including U.N. Women and local municipal governments.

Five of Bolivia’s major cities are part of the campaign, which has so far distributed 10,000 leaflets; installed billboards; established an emergency hotline, and broadcast educational videos.

The campaign is also boosting awareness of the Law to Guarantee Women a Life Free From Violence, which, according to the U.N. Women Coordinator, has yet to reduce femicides.

More than 100 women are still murdered in Bolivia every year, and the number of victims is rising: last year, 111 femicides were reported and in 2016, according to the general prosecutor, 104 women were murdered.

According to data gathered by the Bolivian Special Police Task Force Against Violence, last year’s carnival was marred by 89 violent incidents; in 2016, 74 such incidents were reported.

Spikes in violent acts against women are also observed in carnival celebrations elsewhere in the region. In Trinidad and Tobago, a new law has been passed to combat harassment by requiring consent to engage in a popular dance known as “wining.”

In Brazil, women’s organizations have launched a campaign highlighting the difference between flirting and harassment. Women participating in carnival celebrations in the states of Minas Gerais, Bahia, Sao Paulo and Pernambuco now carry tattoos with the message: “No means no.”

Latin America Celebrates Centenary of Russian Revolution

Source: TeleSUR
November 7 2017

venezuelans gather for October revolution 100th.pngVenezuelans gather to celebrate the 100 years of the October Revolution.
| Photo: Twitter / PartidoPSUV

Bolivian President Evo Morales congratulated the Russian people on the 100th anniversary of their revolution.

Thousands across Latin America are mobilizing and celebrating the centennial anniversary of the Russian Revolution with various events throughout the region.

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In Venezuela, workers are marching from Caracas’ Autonomous National Telephone Company to the Miraflores Presidential Palace.

“We, as revolutionaries and socialist, join in this global commemoration,” said Freddy Bernal, a member of the National Directorate of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, who called for the mobilization.

In Peru, the Communist Party is hosting an event at the Auditorium of the Telephone Workers’ Union of Peru to celebrate the Russian Revolution. A series of events are also being held in Uruguay.

Meanwhile in Bolivia, President Evo Morales congratulated the Russian people on the 100th anniversary of their revolution, describing it as an example in the fight against tyranny and inequality.

“The Russian Revolution triumphed on this day, one hundred years ago. United, peasants and workers managed to form the first socialist state in the world,” Morales posted on his Twitter account.

The Bolivian government is slated to host an international meeting titled “A 100 years of the Russian Revolution,” in which its influence on left-wing movements in Latin America will be analyzed. Bolivia’s Vice-President, Alvaro Garcia Linera, is also scheduled to give a keynote address at the Central Bank auditorium in La Paz for the occasion.

Other events are taking place until Thursday in Peru, Chile, Brazil and elsewhere in Latin America.

Russia’s October Socialist Revolution took place on Oct. 25, 1917, according to the Julian calendar, or on Nov. 7, according to the Gregorian.

It was the second phase of the 1917 Revolution, which was preceded by a mass women’s protest as they took to Nevsky Prospekt, the main avenue of the former Russian capital of Petrograd, to protest their immiseration. Within three or four days, the Tsarist monarchy was vanquished

The new Bolivia continues to advance with Evo Morales

Source:  Granma
October 18, 2017

by: Joaquín Rivery Tur |

Over a decade ago, when the government of Evo Morales took office in Bolivia, only 40,000 Bolivians received gas at home. Today, 3.5 million have access to the service where they  live.

evo morales oct 2017.jpgPresident Evo Morales has served the country for 11 years, despite fierce
opposition from the local oligarchy and the U.S. 

Over a decade ago, when the government of Evo Morales took office in Bolivia, only 40,000 Bolivians received gas at home. Today, 3.5 million have access to the service where they live.

The nationalization of the hydrocarbon industry in 2006 resulted in economic progress for Bolivia. It allowed the country to multiply national gas export revenues from two billion dollars in 2005, to 31.5 billion dollars in 2016.

The local oligarchy conspired with the U.S. embassy in the Andean nation to overthrow the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) led government, but failed.

The Bolivian government was forced to expel the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the U.S. ambassador, for their interference in the country’s internal affairs.

According to studies, especially those carried out by Canadian firm GLJ Consultants, its is estimated that in the next five years Bolivia’s proven natural gas reserves will increase to 17.45 trillion cubic feet, and production levels will be at a minimum of 73 million cubic meters per day.

Bolivia at the forefront of regional economic growth

The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) places Bolivia at the forefront of regional economic growth in its latest report. In 2016, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth was 4.3%, while the Ministry of Economy has forecast 4.7% growth for this year.

One of the most important projects underway in the country is the construction of the first polypropylene and propylene plant, to be established in the province of Gran Chaco, located in southern Bolivia, indicative of the industrialization and diversification of the national economy, alongside lithium industry projects.

The President of the state-owned oil company Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB), Guillermo Achá, explained that the polypropylene plant will create at least 1,000 direct jobs, and some 10,000 further positions related to the petrochemical complex – thus alleviating one of the country’s endemic problems: unemployment. The mega project has seen investment of over 500 million dollars.

The Plurinational State is also developing significant new energy generation projects, including the building of hydroelectric power plants in Carrizal, Cambarí, and Huacata; expansion of the Termoeléctrica del Sur power station; wind power generation in La Ventolera; solar power in the highlands; and projects for internal industrial development, and even for energy exports.

Nationalization vastly more beneficial than privatization

Meanwhile, YPFB statistics show that the nationalization of natural resources has generated $31.5 billion dollars over the past 10 years, far more than the $2.5 billion that was collected in the same period under privatization.

Undeniably, the population of this new Bolivia has seen their living standards greatly improved, with the construction of roads, schools, hospitals, and sports centers. Hundreds of thousands of Bolivians have recovered their sight thanks to Operation Miracle, the ophthalmologic rehabilitation program promoted by the governments of Cuba and Venezuela.

The local pro-U.S. oligarchy continues its plans to regain power, especially those in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the capital of the country’s largest constituent department, where plots to overthrow the government have been prepared with the participation of foreign mercenaries.

Separatist opposition movements have also tried unsuccessfully to separate the departments of Pando, Beni, Santa Cruz, and Tarija (known as the “half moon” due to their overall shape) from Bolivia.

It’s no secret that when Evo Morales assumed office on January 22, 2006, many did not believe he would be able to complete his presidential term, let alone do so as successfully. However, the first indigenous President of Bolivia is now the longest serving head of state of the country.

None of his predecessors in the position were able to secure an electoral victory for three consecutive terms, or maintain such high approval ratings among the Bolivian people. (With information from teleSUR)

Asking nothing in return

Source:  Granma
October 6 2017

by Yenia Silva Correa |

In only 39 years, the young man from the city of Rosario accomplished something not achieved by many who lived a century. He became part of the people’s history and remains so today.

che 21.jpg

Che’s Bolivian Diary contains entries from only the first week of October – the final days of the enduring life of the heroic guerilla. In his summary of the month of September, he wrote, “The army is now showing its effectiveness in action and the bulk of campesinos won’t help us at all, and are becoming informers.”

The proximity of army forces in the area in which Che’s guerillas were moving was a constant theme in his notes, be it a result of chance sightings or news heard on the radio, which as is often the case in such situations, could well contain misinformation purposefully disseminated to put pressure on the revolutionaries.  (Photo: Korda, Alberto)

Broadcast on the radio in fact (October 4), was a commentary that foreshadowed the events, projecting possible scenarios of a trial of the guerilla leader after his capture. The speaker did consider the fact that Che would not give himself up without a struggle, except in extraordinary circumstances like those that eventually occurred.

On October 5 and 6 soldiers were again sighted and the radio reported a disproportionate number of troops searching for the small number of guerillas. It was the prelude to the last note Che would write in his notebook.

October 7, final entry: A chance encounter with a woman crossing their path through the mud and a radio report. Beyond this, the mention of four comrades, but no indication of desperation. This was the human being murdered in Bolivia 50 years ago, who had accumulated much experience in guerilla struggle, both in Cuba and on African soil.

The same man who in December of 1964 had summarized his internationalism in a few phrases before the United Nations General Assembly, saying “… at the moment it may be necessary, I am willing to give my life for the liberation of any Latin American country, without asking anything of anyone.”

che during target practice.jpg

Che Guevara during target practice Photo: Archive

For Che, the idea of death, as part of the revolutionary struggle, was nothing foreign, nor a motive for fear. He was very clear: “In a revolution, one triumphs, or one dies (if it is a real one).” He was true to this principle until the last moment of his life.

Since his untimely death, the tributes to the paradigm of a new man, in every corner of the globe, have not ceased.

In Cuba, 1968 was declared the Year of the Heroic Guerilla. For decades, youth departed for Africa and Latin America to complete internationalist missions, inspired by his example. Hundreds of thousands immortalize his likeness on clothes and in tattoos; others venerate him like a saint; more than a few are committed to disseminating his thought and work.

Part of the people’s history

guerrillas in bolivia.jpg

Guerrillas in Bolivia. Photo: Cubadebate

In only 39 years, the young man from the city of Rosario accomplished something not achieved by many who lived a century. He became part of the people’s history and remains so today, from the time of his travels across the continent of his birth, and his participation in the Cuban Revolution (first as a Rebel Army Comandante and then playing a leadership role in the country) to his departure to other lands calling for his contribution. Asking for nothing, and giving his all, he left much more than his celebrated “Hasta la victoria siempre” (Forever onward to victory). His exemplary life and action are here. They never die.

Bolivia enacts law to provide job stability for the disabled

Source:  Granma
September 27 2017

By TeleSUR English |

evo morales sept 2017 2.jpgMorales signed the new statute during a ceremony at Government Palace in La Paz. Photo: EFE

Under the new law, 4% of the public sector workforce must be disabled men and women.

Bolivian President Evo Morales has enacted a law to guarantee job stability for workers with serious disabilities.

The law also establishes a job quota for disabled people and offers a monthly payment of US$36 for those who are no longer able to work.

Morales signed the new statute during a ceremony at Government Palace in La Paz, which was attended by the nation’s Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera, as well as ministers, ruling party lawmakers and representatives of disabled people.

It is a joy for me to enact this law

In his address, the president said: “it is a joy for me to enact this law” for the disabled, adding that the payment of US$36 a month will be financed by municipal governments with the support of the central government.

“This ruling also affects employers: 4 percent of those employed by the public sector and 2 percent employed by the private sector must be disabled men and women,” he said.
According to statistics provided this week by the Health Ministry, there were 67,912 disabled persons registered in the country by December 2016.

Of that number, 46,062 had serious or very serious disabilities and will benefit from the new job quotas, while those unable to work will receive monthly payments.  Those eligible to receive the benefits must register with the Ministry of Health’s Sole Disabled Persons Register and possess an up-to-date disability card.

People with vision problems who are registered with the Bolivian Blindness Institute are excluded from the monthly payment as they already receive support from the state, but they will be able to benefit from the job quotas, the Health Ministry said.

The monthly municipal payment will take effect in 2018. In the meantime, the government will continue the annual solidarity payments of almost US$144 to the sector, the ministry said.

In 2016, hundreds of disabled persons fought the Bolivian government to demand the annual payment be substituted by a monthly payment of US$72.