Bolivia Achieves Record Levels of Economic and Social Growth in 2021

Bolivian president Luis Arce during his visit to Humatoma school in the capital La Paz on December 22. Photo: Luis Arce/Twitter

Under the rule of President Luis Arce and vice president David Choquehuanca of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party, Bolivia recovered from the economic losses suffered during the coup regime of Jeanine Áñez

After suffering deep economic setbacks during the de-facto rule of coup-installed president Jeanine Áñez, Bolivia’s economy not only recovered but achieved new levels of economic and social growth in 2021. Under the rule of President Luis Arce and vice president David Choquehuanca of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party, the country’s exports grew at record levels, the unemployment rate fell sharply, the lithium revenue generated historic income, and the economy is estimated to grow by over 5% in 2022.

President Arce, on January 2, reported that the country’s exports until November 2021 exceeded 9.9 billion USD, the highest figure in the last three years. “With hope, work and, above all, with unity, that’s how we started 2022. As of November 2021, our exports exceeded 9.9 billion USD, the highest in three years, with a trade surplus of 1.7 billion USD. It’s just the beginning! We are moving forward,” tweeted the head of state.

At the same time, the vice minister of foreign trade and integration, Benjamín Blanco, reported that the country is set to beat another record, with 10 billion USD until December, a figure that has not been reached since 2014. “Exports are going to reach around 10 billion USD. It is a figure that has not been reached since 2014, we are going to break a record after many years in exports and that also leaves us with a positive trade balance of more than 1.5 billion USD, after eight years we did not have a credit balance for our country,” he said.

Blanco also reported that not only was there a growth in the value of exports, but also their volume increased. He highlighted that the country obtained international recognition for the quality of cocoa, which will allow it to be exported at better prices. He also said that the country intends to reach the European market with Bolivian wine in 2022.

Meanwhile, on January 4, the minister of economy and public finance, Marcelo Montenegro reported that between May 2020 and October 2021, more than 1.1 million Bolivians got jobs, and unemployment decreased from 11.6% to 5%. “The economy has recovered, the growth rate of six percent is not negligible, with falling unemployment, inflation and deficits controlled, the positive trade balance and exports are growing,” said Montenegro.

He said that in 2022, the government will continue working to generate jobs for Bolivians in various sectors. “The prospects for 2022 management have a tendency to continue improving in employment and income, as well as greater dynamics in construction, transportation, manufacturing, mining and other sectors,” he said.

On January 5, the ministry of hydrocarbons and energies reported that the Bolivian Lithium Mineral company (YLB) generated a historic income of around 28 million USD from sales in 2021. It said that it is the result of the sales of potassium chloride and lithium carbonate in the national and international markets.

The main countries that demand Bolivian lithium carbonate are China, Russia and the United States, while those that require potassium chloride are Chile and Brazil, according to data from YLB. Apart from exports, both products are also marketed to small producers in the national market through the company’s outlets in Uyuni and Cochabamba cities.

Based on the positive indexes registered in 2021, such as the 6% increase in the country’s GDP as compared to a -8.8% in 2020, Bolivian economic analysts have forecasted an economic growth of 5.1% for 2022.

2021 Latin America and the Caribbean in Review: The Pink Tide Rises Again

Photo: Bill Hackwell

Source: Internationalist 360

January 1 2022

By Roger D. Harris

US policy towards Latin America and the Caribbean continued in a seamless transition from Trump to Biden, but the terrain over which it operated shifted left. The balance between the US drive to dominate its “backyard” and its counterpart, the Bolivarian cause of regional independence and integration, continued to tip portside in 2021 with major popular electoral victories in Chile, Honduras, and Peru. These follow the previous year’s reversal of the coup in Bolivia.

Central has been the struggle of the ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America) countries – particularly Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua – against the asphyxiating US blockade and other regime-change measures. Presidential candidate Biden pledged to review Trump’s policy of US sanctions against a third of humanity. The presumptive intention of the review was to ameliorate the human suffering caused by these unilateral coercive measures, considered illegal under international law. Following the review, Biden has instead tightened the screws, more effectively weaponizing the COVID crisis.

Andean Nations

The unrelenting US regime-change campaign against Venezuela has had a corrosive effect on Venezuela’s attempt to build socialism. With the economy de facto dollarized, among those hardest hit are government workers, the informal sector, and those without access to dollar remittances from abroad.

Nonetheless, Venezuela’s resistance to the continued US “maximum pressure” hybrid warfare is a triumph in itself. Recent economic indicators have shown an upturn with significant growth in national food and oil production and an end to hyperinflationFurther, the government has built 3.7 million housing units, distributed food to 7 million through the CLAP program, and adroitly handled the COVID pandemic.

When Trump recognized Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela in 2019, the then 35-year-old US security asset had never run for a nationwide office and was unknown to over 80% of the Venezuelans. Back then some 50 of the US’s closest allies recognized Guaidó; now barely a dozen does so. Contrary to campaign trail inuendoes that Biden would enter into dialogue with the democratically elected president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, Biden has continued the embarrassing Guaidó charade.

The November 21 municipal and regional elections were a double triumph for Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution: the ruling Socialist Party (PSUV) won significantly while the extreme right opposition (including Guaidó’s party) was compelled to participate, implicitly recognizing the Maduro government.

Venezuelan special envoy Alex Saab was extradited – really kidnapped – to the US on October 16 on the vague and difficult to disprove charge of “conspiracy” to money launder. Swiss authorities, after an exhaustive 3-year investigation, had found no evidence of money laundering. Saab’s real “crime” was trying to bring humanitarian aid to Venezuela via legal international trade but circumventing the illegal US blockade. This egregious example of US extra-territorial judicial overreach is being contested by Saab’s legal defense because, as a diplomat, he has absolute immunity from arrest under the Vienna Convention. His case has become a major cause in Venezuela and internationally.

Meanwhile, Colombia, chief regional US client state, the biggest recipient of US military aid in the hemisphere,  and the largest world source of cocaine, is a staging point for paramilitary attacks on Venezuela. President Iván Duque continues to disregard the 2016 peace agreement with the guerrilla FARC as Colombia endures a pandemic of rightwing violence especially against human rights defenders and former guerillas.

On April 28, Duque’s proposed neoliberal tax bill precipitated a national strike mobilizing a broad coalition of unions, members of indigenous and Afro-descendent communities, social activists, and campesinos. They carried out sustained actions across the country for nearly two months, followed by a renewed national strike wave, starting on August 26. The approaching 2022 presidential election could portend a sea change for the popular movement where leftist Senator Gustavo Petro is leading in the polls.

In Ecuador, Andrés Arauz won the first-round presidential election on February 7 with a 13-point lead over Guillermo Lasso, but short of the 40% or more needed to avoid the April 13 runoff, which he lost. A victim of a massive disinformation campaign, Arauz was a successor of former President Rafael Correa’s leftist Citizen Revolution, which still holds the largest bloc in the National Assembly. The “NGO left,” funded by the US and its European allies, contributed to the electoral reversal. Elements of the indigenous Pachakutik party have allied with the new president, a wealthy banker, to implement a neo-liberal agenda.

In Peru, Pedro Castillo, a rural school teacher and a Marxist, won the presidency in a June 6 runoff against hard-right Keiko Fujimori, daughter of now imprisoned and former president Alberto Fujimori. Castillo won by the slimmest of margins and now faces rightwing lawfare and the possibility of a coup. Just a few weeks into his presidency, he was forced to replace his leftist foreign Minister, Hector Béjar, with someone more favorable to the rightwing opposition and the military.

In Bolivia, a US-backed coup deposed leftist President Evo Morales in 2019 and temporarily installed a rightist. Evo’s Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party successor, Luis Arce, took back the presidency last year in a landslide election. With the rightwing still threatening, a massive weeklong March for the Homeland of Bolivian workers, campesinos, and indigenous rallied in support of the government in late November.

Read full article here

Luis Arce Completes One Year at the Helm of Bolivia’s Government

Source: TeleSUR

November 8 2021

Bolivian President Luis Arce said, “We feel strengthened by the expressions of affection and the
 support we received from social organizations during the celebration of our first year in office”
| Photo: Twitter/@LuchoXBolivia

On November 8, 2020, Luis Arce took power before the Legislative Assembly with 55.11 percent of the votes.

Bolivian President, Luis Arce, offered a speech to the nation, within the framework of the inauguration of the first ordinary session of the Legislative Assembly (Parliament) for 2021-2022 and on the first anniversary of his assumption to the Bolivian Presidency.

Before the President’s speech, the Vice President, David Choquehuanca, referred to the popular demand for justice for the deaths and human rights violations and cases of racism during the de facto government of Jeanine Añez.

RELATED: Colombians Involved in Attempted Assassination of Luis Arce

In this regard, he indicated that what happened in 2020 compared to 2021 reflects irreversible change and stressed the need to use democratic means and the rule of law to banish fascism and other forms of extreme violence.

“2020 has warned us and taught us that political chaos, deaths, racism, abuse, corruption, injustices, violation of human rights is not the path of our plurinational system. It is the obligation of all of us to identify those responsible so that these events never happen again,” he said.

In this sense, he referred to the importance of justice to respect due process but identifying those responsible so that the facts do not go unpunished.

“A country without justice is a nation submerged in disorder and chaos; justice has to seek the truth, the people need to know the truth, the people demand justice,” he said.

Luis Arce, on his part, presented before the Legislature the results of his first 12 months in office. Concerning his administration, he said that 54.4 percent of the Bolivian population over 18 years of age is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, thanks to the application of 7.9 million doses of the more than 15.4 million free antigens distributed.

At the same time, he noted that in the third wave of the pandemic, immunization was massive, reaching 64 percent of first doses and 54 percent in second doses, in addition to implementing active epidemiological surveillance.

The Bolivian head of state recalled that when he took office in November 2020, the country had a deep health crisis due to the coronavirus.

“In the year of our democratically elected government, 7.9 million doses were administered, including first, second, third and single doses. As of November 2021, 54.4% of the population over 18 years of age has the complete vaccination schedule against COVID19.”

“In Bolivia, COVID-19 arrived in March 2020, bringing pain, mourning and impotence in the face of a clear inability to manage the health crisis of the de facto government, the lack of medical supplies, medicines, oxygen, massive PCR tests, trained personnel resulted in shocking figures of lethality, in a scenario that, despite having adopted rigid and flexible quarantines, did not foresee hope for the Bolivian people,” he commented.

To face this situation, the President said that three lines of action were implemented, including free mass testing, free vaccination, and strengthening the health system at the state level.

“With these actions, we went from a lethality rate of 6.2 percent in the first wave to a lethality that did not exceed 2.7 percent in the second and third waves. At the beginning of this fourth wave, the lowest levels of the entire pandemic were recorded at 0.96 percent in November 2021,” he said.

Arce continued his speech, outlining the work of the Government to favor pregnant women with the Juana Azurduy Bonus. He added that through the Unified Health System and the National Intercultural Community Family Health Policy, the number of births attended by qualified personnel increased.

He also referred to the reestablishment of sports institutions taken over after the de facto Government, through the reopening of centers, incentives for sports practice and economic support.

He also highlighted the opening of the school year in February 2021, with 38.5 percent of educational institutions in face-to-face mode, increasing to 58.7 percent in October. “If to that modality we add the semi-presential classes, we would have a total of 84.1 percent of the total of the country’s educational units under these two modalities, which means a substantive improvement of the educational process in our country in times of pandemic,” he evidenced.

Luis Arce also referred to the economic reconstruction measures to seek gradual growth. “The measures implemented responded favorably, achieving positive results for our economy, reducing the depth of the crisis that in the second and third quarter of 2020 hit bottom, with accumulated falls of -12.9 percent and -12.6 percent, respectively,” he said.

The head of the Bolivian Government was sworn in on Sunday, November 8, 2020, at the Plurinational Legislative Assembly and with national support of 55.11 percent at the polls. From his entry into the Presidency, he implemented measures to counteract the political, economic, educational and health crises in search of the reconstruction of Bolivia and its stability after the coup d’état of 2019

Cuba Thanks Sister Nations for their Solidarity

Source: Cuban News Agency, TeleSUR

August 2 2021

Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, President of the Republic of Cuba has expressed his gratitude for the increased solidarity with the country, in the midst of difficult times.

Solidarity with Cuba increases in the face of difficult times. Our gratitude and thanks to the governments and peoples who have helped us. #ACubaPonleCorazón,” tweeted the president.

Expressions and acts of solidarity with the Cuban government have come from several nations and organizations.

Vietnam

On July 29, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh announced the shipment of 12,000 tons of rice to the island and assured that he would stand shoulder to shoulder with the Cuban people, who in the most difficult moments of their history were by the side of the Vietnamese people.

Vietnamese PM Pham Minh Chinh made the symbolic delivery of the shipment to Orlando Hernandez Guillen, Cuban ambassador to Hanoi.

These donations, said Pham Minh Chinh, demonstrate the special ties of fraternity and solidarity that unite us with Cuba.

For his part, Hernandez Guillen, thanked the gesture and quoted Miguel Diaz-Canel, first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba and president of the nation, who called it a clear expression of Vietnam’s unwavering solidarity and a source of encouragement for the Revolution and the Cuban people.

The diplomat noted that such solidarity is especially expressed at this time when Cuba is facing the U.S. blockade, tightened during the pandemic, and the efforts to destroy the Revolution by using deception and misrepresentation in social media.

Bolivia

Some 20 tons of humanitarian aid were announced by the Bolivian government, including medical supplies and food, and according to the president of that nation, Luis Arce, the shipment is a gesture of reciprocity of solidarity with Cuba.  President Arce noted that the Cuban people, are going through difficulties due to the criminal economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba.

We learned from Cuba that solidarity is sharing the little we have with those who need it most, said Arce in his message published on Twitter on Tuesday night.

In another communication, Arce highlighted that this South American nation has benefited from Cuban solidarity with medical brigades that have travelled to Bolivian homes with professional attention.

Related:  Bolivian Plane Lands in Cuba with Humanitarian Aid

He also thanked Cuba for the solidarity and internationalism, and added that Cuban professionals have performed thousands of eye surgeries in Bolivia through Operation Miracle and have brought literacy.

The Bolivian president emphasized that he once again joins the voice of humanity calling for the end of the criminal U.S. blockade and demanding respect for the free self-determination of the people.

 Mexico

Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador has also sent navy ships to Cuba with medicines, food and oxygen.  President López Obrador emphasized that instead of blockading the island, everyone should help.

In addition, the Mexican boat Jose Maria Morelos II headed for Cuba with 100 thousand barrels of oil on board aimed at supplying Cuban hospitals.

A third Mexican shipment will leave that nation on Wednesday towards Cuba with a similar cargo, according to PL news agency.

Related:  First Mexican Aid Shipment Docks at Havana Harbor

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel thanked his Mexican counterpart Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for his call on the international community to support the island with concrete actions.

Russia

A cargo of humanitarian aid from Russia arrived in Havana on Sunday night July 25th aboard two AN-124 aircraft carrying food and anti-COVID-19 protection means, reports Prensa Latina.

The Russian freighters carried a cargo of 88.8 tons with superior quality wheat flour, one million disposable face masks, cans of canned food, and first-class refined sunflower oil, confirmed officials of the Russian embassy in Cuba.

RELATED: Russia Rejects US Interference in Cuba’s Internal Affairs

During the reception ceremony, the Cuban Minister of Domestic Trade, Betsy Díaz, thanked the Russian government for the gesture on behalf of the people, the Party, and the island’s authorities.

Other nations, regional bodies and civil society organizations

Several other nations such as Nicaragua, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Venezuela, and different civil society organizations in Latin American countries, North America and the European Union have expressed their solidarity support with Cuba over the past weeks, including Caricom, the Group of Puebla, the Dawn and CELAC.  Several organizations have also called on the Government of President Joe Biden to eliminate, at least, the 243 additional measures to the blockade implemented during the mandate of Donald Trump.

A special mention for these displays of solidarity happened in the United States itself, where groups of Cubans and friends from other countries, united in the Bridges of Love project, made a trip from Miami to Washington, and in front of the White House they raised their voices and they waved the tricolor flag, demanding that Cuba be respected as a free and sovereign country.

Evo: “Almagro Must Be Investigated For Crimes Against Humanity”

Source: TeleSUR

July 15 2021

Ex-president of Bolivia Evo Morales assures that the head of the OAS Luis Almagro should be investigated for crimes against humanity after the recognition of the massacres of Senkata and Sacaba. | Photo: Twitter/@enteratee24

The request of the former Bolivian president comes after Almagro’s recognition of the Senkata and Sacaba massacres.

The former president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, demanded Thursday an investigation against the secretary-general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, for crimes against humanity, after he acknowledged that there were indeed massacres in Senkata and Sacaba in November 2019.

The head of the OAS “provoked and accompanied” the de facto government installed in Bolivia, which is currently attributed and investigated, the responsibility for the massacres after the overthrow of Evo Morales shortly before.

RELATED:

Bolivia Considers to Take Legal Action Against Luis Almagro

Evo Morales said that “Almagro publicly admitted that in Bolivia there were massacres perpetrated by the de facto government” and added, in that sense, “I demand that he be investigated to explain his participation in those crimes against humanity.”

The former president pointed out that Almagro made this public acknowledgment after being “betrayed by the last remnant of his conscience.”

Thus, he refers to the fact that, during a virtual meeting of the OAS Permanent Council on Wednesday, Almagro acknowledged the massacres and asked for a minute of silence for the victims of those massacres; he then stood up as a sign of respect.

In response, Evo Morales pointed out that this shows his extreme cynicism and accused Almagro of being “one of the people, who with his actions, has justly caused those deaths.”

Bolivian President Luis Arce also described Almagro’s request for a minute’s silence as outrageous.

Meanwhile, the Bolivian ambassador to the OAS, Héctor Arce, present at the virtual meeting, described Almagro’s action as a very serious imposture, recalling the actions of the OAS and its head, which favored the establishment of the de facto government of Jeanine Áñez.

In Bolivia, MAS is more

Source: Granma

October 20 2020

The Movement Toward Socialism’s Presidential candidate, Luis Arce, defeated his closest rival, October 19, by more than 20 percentage points

Author: Elson Concepción | internet@granma.cu

The Bolivian people demonstrated that truth, dignity and struggle were not lost with the military coup, nor with the atrocities committed by the de facto government installed last year.

The overwhelming victory of the Movement Toward Socialism’s (MAS) Presidential candidate, Luis Arce, who defeated his closest rival, October 19, by more than 20 percentage points, shattered the right wing illusion that they could join forces to win in a second round.

“Congratulations to MAS, which has recovered, at the polls, the power that was usurped by the oligarchy, with the complicity of the OAS and imperialist guidance,” tweeted Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, early on Election Day, welcoming the news, and emphasizing: “Cuba shares the joy for Luis Arce’s victory… the Bolivarian ideal is reborn.”

Toward the end of the afternoon, the winner responded with heartfelt thanks: “Thank you President Miguel Díaz-Canel. The united people decided, with the vote, the return of economic, social and political stability. Today we share the same joy, because our people have regained hope.”

The results of the vote expose the farce mounted after the 2019 elections by the Organization of American States (OAS), the Lima Group and the United States, which led to the military coup, the departure of Evo Morales and repression that cost the lives of more than 30 Bolivians.

So forceful was the will of the people that de facto President, Jeanine Áñez, had no choice but to recognize MAS. Arce, in his first public comments after the victory, emphasized that he intends to construct a government of national unity, and redirect the process of change without hatred, learning from and overcoming past errors.

Along with his running mate, David Choquehuanca, he has the moral authority and experience to reverse the neo-liberal nightmare imposed following the military coup. The economic disaster protected by Áñez, aggravated by poor management of the pandemic, widespread corruption, and the handing over of natural resources and factories to large corporations injured the dignity of the people who opted for the peace of the ballot box.

Once in office – but attentive to the shadowy plans with which enemies will surely react, inside and outside the country – the new government will face the complex, challenging task of uniting political forces; strengthening the people’s confidence; charting the course for economic and social development; correcting the response to COVID-19, to control outbreaks and deaths; and restoring sovereignty and the international relations destroyed by the coup plotters.

Bolivia’s Social Movements Hold Massive Victory Celebration

Bolivia's Social Movements Hold Massive Victory Celebration

The official celebration of the MAS-IPSP was held in El Alto and attended by tens of thousands.

Social movements from around the country have descended on the city of El Alto, to attend the official celebration for the victory of the Movement Towards Socialism – Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of Peoples (MAS-IPSP).

RELATED:

Bolivia’s TSE Declares Luis Arce the Elected President

It was called the “Grand cultural party for the recuperation of democracy” and incldued the presence of all peoples and nationalities of the country.

President-elect Luis Arce and Vice President-elect David Choquehuanca were in attendance as different regional groups and organizations paraded down the route on Avenida Civica, greeting the candidates.

The incoming executive was joined on stage by newly elected Senators, Lower House legislators and other union and social movement leaders of the MAS.

teleSUR spoke with Segundina Flores, leader of the Bartolina Sisa National Confederation of Campesino, Indigenous, and Native Women of Bolivia.

She said today is a festive day in celebration of the restoration of democracy to come,”This process won’t end, it will continue for many years. That’s why our peoples are going to govern ourselves, that’s why today is a democratic party.”

“Today, a democracy will return which is egalitarian, a democracy participatory, a democracy for all,” said the national women’s leader.

Vice President-elect David Choquehuanca told teleSUR that today’s celebration was a cultural manifestation of the Bolivian peoples, “We are happy, there is a lot of hope on the faces of our brothers, who express their joy by dancing, showing our culture, that culture of brotherhood, of joy and happiness. The people have recovered their spirit, our people have recovered their “ajayu” their courage.”

The official presenation of results and declaration of the winners of the 2020 General Election took place on Friday evening, in statements by Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) President, Salvador Romero, before press and electoral observers. Arce and Choquehuanca won the election, receiving 55.1% of the vote, beating out Carlos Mesa by over 26 points.

Both Arce and Choquehuanca served as ministers, of economy and foreign affairs respectively, under the government of President Evo Morales who served as campaign chief for the MAS.

Socialist Presidential Candidate Arce Wins Bolivia’s Elections

Source: TeleSUR

October 18 2020

Results of Bolivian elections broadcast by local media October 19 2020

The Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) won with 52.4 percent over the parties that were backed by the right-wing interim regime.

After midnight on Sunday, Bolivian authorities allowed the results of the exit polls to be known. The Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) presidential candidate Luis Arce obtained 52.4 percent of the votes, the Citizen Community (CC) candidate Carlos Mesa got 31.5 percent, and the “We Believe Alliance” candidate Luis Fernando Camacho reached 14.1 percent of the votes.

RELATED:   The Long Wait for Official Results Disconcerts Bolivia

Bolivia’s president-elect Arce thanked the people for their support and for their peaceful participation in the electoral process.

“We have recovered democracy and hope. We ratify our commitment to work with social organizations. We are going to build a national unity government.”

Previously, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) spokesperson Sebastian Mitchell made an official statement regarding the absence of definitive data on the elections. He said that mainstream media and exit-polls companies know that Socialist candidate Arce had already exceeded 45 percent of the votes.

“Election observers do not understand if the absence of information results from inefficiency or if the government is implementing a strategy to win two or three days, generate violence, and justify a military intervention,” Mitchell said.

The Bolivian Socialists’ message was categorical and clear: “we call on the community to avoid provocations… let’s end this nightmare we have been living for a year.”

A few minutes before the official information was issued, former President Evo Morales, who remains a political asylee in Argentina, recalled that millions of Bolivians cast their vote peacefully and demanded that the coup-born regime led by Jeanine Añez respect the results.

“Yesterday we denounced that the authorities suspended the presentation of the results of the exit poll companies. That was suspicious,” the Socialist leader said

“Everything indicates that the MAS has won the elections and won a majority of seats in both chambers,” Evo added.

Era of US Domination of Latin America Coming to an End

Source:  Popular Resistance
August 9 2020
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance.

us dominatiuon in la over 2

Above photo: Marcha en Venezuela contra las sanciones de Trump – Reuters.

Despite its failings at home, the United States intervenes in countries across multiple continents seeking to control their governments and resources.

This week, we look at the US’ latest efforts in Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Bolivia to undermine their independence and force them to serve the interests of the US government and transnational corporations.

In all three countries, the US has displayed a lack of understanding of the people and their support for their revolutionary processes, and as a result, is failing. As US empire fades, so might the Monroe Doctrine come to an end.

Sandanista- FSLN rally in Nicaragua.

Nicaragua: USAID Multi-Year Destabilization Plan Exposed

A US Agency for International Development (USAID) document revealed by reporter William Grigsby describes covert plans to overthrow the democratically-elected Nicaraguan government in the next two years. USAID seeks to hire mercenaries “to take charge of the plan . . . to disrupt public order and carry out other [violent] actions before, during, and/or after the 2021 elections.”

USAID is creating Responsive Assistance In Nicaragua (RAIN), allotting $540,000 in grants to remove the Sandinista government in what it calls “Nicaragua’s transition to democracy.” Daniel Ortega won the 2016 election with 72 percent of the vote in what election observers from the Organization of American States (OAS), a US tool, described as taking “place in a calm, smooth and pacific manner, with no large incidents.”

Brian Willson, who has opposed US efforts to dominate Nicaragua since the 1980s Contra war, concludes the US realizes Ortega will win the 2021 election. In fact, this week, a poll showed support for Ortega’s party, FSLN, at 50% and for the opposition at 10%. One of USAID plans, as they tried in Venezuela in 2018, is for the opposition to boycott the election since they know they will lose, then call it illegitimate and create a political and economic crisis.

The real goal is not a democracy but domination so US transnational corporations can profit from the second poorest country in the hemisphere by putting in place a neoliberal economy to privatize public services, cut social services, and purge all traces of the Sandinistas. USAID also plans to “reestablish” the police and military to enforce their rule. Another goal is to stop Nicaragua from being the “threat of a good example” for its economic growth, reduction of inequality, poverty, illiteracy and crime.

Ben Norton points out in the Grayzone that “the 14-page USAID document employed the word ‘transition’ 102 times” making clear the intent is regime change.  A “sudden transition without elections,” a euphemism for a coup, is one of three possible regime change scenarios.

John Perry writes about “US interference in Nicaragua, going back at least as far as William Walker’s assault on its capital and usurpation of the presidency in 1856.” Since the 1979 Sandinista Revolution, the US has sought to take back control of Nicaragua.

USAID and its National Endowment for Democracy (NED) have been funding the opposition. NED financed 54 projects from 2014-17 to lay the groundwork for a 2018 coup attempt, which  also involved USAIDWiston Lopez writes the US has provided “more than 31 million dollars between the end of 2017 and May 1, 2020.” When the attempted coup in 2018 failed, the US also put in place illegal unilateral coercive measures, known as economic sanctions, supported by both Democrats and Republicans, to try to weaken the country.

The USAID’s RAIN program outlines the usual regime change steps, e.g. remake the police and military as enforcers of the new neoliberal order, move “quickly to dismantle parallel institutions,”  i.e. the Sandinista Front, the Sandinista Youth, and other grassroots institutions, and implement “transitional justice measures,” i.e., the prosecution of current government officials and movement leaders.

A new area of attack is a disinformation campaign against Nicaragua’s handling of COVID-19. The opposition misrepresents the government’s response and puts forward false death statistics in an attempt to create chaos. As Wiston López points out, “Since March the US-directed opposition has focused 95% of their actions on attempting to discredit Nicaragua’s prevention, contention, and Covid treatment. However, this only had some success in the international media and is now backfiring since Nicaragua is the country with one of the lowest mortality rates in the continent.”

The US media fails to report on the success of Nicaragua in combating the virus using a community-based health system. Nicaragua has been building its health system for the last 12 years and took rapid action to prepare for the virus. Nicaragua did not impose a lock down because it is a poor country where 80 percent of people are in the informal economy and 40 percent live in rural areas. People must work in order to eat.

Stephen Sefton puts the failure of the United States so far in context. At its root, the US does not understand the people of Nicaragua, their history of fighting US domination, and their ability to overcome right-wing puppets. It also misunderstands what the Sandinista government is doing to better the lives of the people in every sector of the economy. Sefton concludes, “The US government has failed notoriously to meet the needs of its own people during the current pandemic but can still find money to try and destroy a small country whose success makes US social, economic and environmental policy look arbitrary, negligent and criminal.”

Nicolas Maduro kicks out Donald Trump. Photo by Ben Norton.

Venezuela: Bipartisan Failed Regime Change

Ever since the 1998 election of Hugo Chavez, successive US administrations have tried and failed to dominate Venezuela. The bipartisan nature of this policy was on display on August 4, when Elliot Abrams, the notorious coup-monger for multiple presidents, testified in Congress. Not a single Senator criticized the attempt to illegally overthrow a democratically-elected government.

Abrams was criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for his inability to remove President Maduro from power. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) was most open about the coup attempt describing it as “a case study in diplomatic malpractice” and claiming Trump botched a winning play in a comedy of errors that strengthened Maduro. After the hearing, Murphy posted a series of Tweets admitting the coup and how it could have been done better.

clip from Murphy’s embarrassing comments was shared widely including by the Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez and Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza. When Vijay Prashad asked Arreaza his reaction, he described the US openly admitting crimes and said the “confessions” of Murphy, Gen. John Kelly, John Bolton, and Elliot Abrams “are priceless evidence for the complaint we raised at the International Criminal Court.”

Elliot Abrams testified that he would continue to work very hard to remove Maduro hopefully by the end of the year.  This echoed a statement by President Trump at SouthCom headquarters in Florida. Sen. Murphy’s comments are consistent with those made by Joe Biden who says he would be more effective at removing Maduro than Trump. Biden described Trump as soft on Maduro because he considered talking to him.

Elliot Abrams announced the US will be starting a media war against Venezuela. The reality is the US has been conducting a media war against Venezuela for more than 20 years.

Venezuela is moving ahead with elections for the National Assembly on December 6, 2020. Unlike 2018, more parties are agreeing to participate including the larger Democratic Action and Justice First parties, as well as a new Communist Party alliance and the hard-right Popular Will party, which was US puppet Juan Guaidó’s former party. There will be 105 political parties contesting for 277 National Assembly seats, 110 more than the current term. Venezuela uses a combination of majority winners and proportional representation. Venezuela also requires half the candidates to be female, and they use electronic voting confirmed by paper ballots with a public citizen audit on Election Day.

Juan Guaidó and others allied with the United States said they would boycott the election. Guaidó cannot risk running because he is likely to be defeated. The US is encouraging a boycott and then will claim the election was not legitimate as it did in the last presidential election. After December, Guaidó will not hold any elected office making his fraudulent claim to the presidency even weaker.

These events come after two major embarrassments for the US in Venezuela. Operation Gideonan attempt by mercenaries to invade Venezuela was foiled on May 4, leading to their arrests and the arrests of their co-conspirators. The State Department abandoned the mercenaries, and this week two former Green Berets were sentenced to 20 years in prison after admitting their guilt. It was evident that Guaidó was heavily involved in this failure adding to his failed presidential takeover and tainting him beyond repair.

The second defeat was Iran and Venezuela working together to deliver oil and equipment for Venezuelan refineries. Five Iranian oil tankers passed by the largest US armada in the Caribbean since the invasion of Panama. Southcom has been repeatedly sending warships into Venezuelan waters. The solidarity of Iran and Venezuela overcame the naval blockade, undermined US sanctions, and sent a shudder through the US by showing other nations they can defy the United States.

Venezuela has a strong history of struggle against imperialism but the US’ economic war is costing their economy hundreds of billions of dollars and leading to the premature death of Venezuelans. In addition, the United Kingdom is refusing to release more than a billion dollars of Venezuelan gold held in the Bank of England that was to be used for food and medicine. The UK court ruled against Venezuela but they are appealing the decision.

Bolivians protest the postponement of the election.

Bolivia: US Dictator Fears Democratic Vote

On November 12 2019, a US-backed coup in Bolivia removed President Evo Morales who had just won re-election. The self-proclaimed President Jeanine Añez, a right-wing Christian, leads a de facto government involved in massacres, persecution and imprisonment of political leaders. It is destroying the social and economic model and achievements of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS Party) led by Morales.

The OAS played a crucial role in the coup with their false analysis of Morales’ re-election. The western media reported the false OAS analysis without criticism. Now, studies by MIT and the Center for Economic and Policy Analysis have shown that Morales clearly won the election and should have remained in power. For months the Washington Post claimed Morales’ re-election was a fraud, but finally, in March, it acknowledged the election was legitimate. Similarly, the New York Times admitted in July that Morales won the election.

Many have called this a lithium coup because the element is plentiful in Bolivia and critical for batteries. This was made evident when Elon Musk, the head of Tesla, said on Twitter “We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.” Tesla would benefit from cheap and plentiful lithium for electric car batteries.

The people of Bolivia are struggling to restore democracy. The fraudulent report by the OAS led to a three-week conflict between right-wing Bolivians protesting alleged fraud and pro-government, mostly indigenous, demonstrators defending Morales. The military and police sided with the right-wing coup. The coup government threatened legislators and their families while repressing the people. There were racist attacks against the majority Indigenous population and the Wiphala, the indigenous flag, was burned in the streets. When she took power, Áñez, surrounded by right-wing legislators, held up a large leather bible and declared, “The Bible has returned to the palace.”

The US recognized the coup government, similar to its recognition of the failed coup leader, Juan Guaidó in Venezuela. Añez claimed she’d be transitory until the next election, but at the direction of the US, she is putting in place deep roots and has delayed elections.

The repression has galvanized the MAS party, as well as peasant unions and grassroots organizations who continue their struggle to restore Bolivian democracy. The pressure led to elections being scheduled. Initially, Áñez said she would not run but reversed herself and is now a candidate while she is trying to outlaw the MAS party and its candidates.

Elections were scheduled for May 3, but have been postponed twice allegedly due to the pandemic, but really because this is an ongoing coup.

It is true that the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting Bolivia hard with horror stories about people unable to get medical treatment. Immediately after the coup, the Añez government expelled the Cuban doctors. The coup-government is unable to manage the health system. Corruption is rampant in the purchase of medical equipment. The health ministry has had three ministers during the crisis. The situation is dire with overcrowded hospitals, lack of basic supplies, and corpses in the streets and in their homes with nowhere to be buried.

The coup-government is using the virus to try to delay elections because polls show the MAS candidate, Luis Arce, is far ahead and likely to win in the first round of elections with Áñez coming in a distant third. Áñez has sought to prosecute Arce to keep him from running, so far unsuccessfully.  On July 6, the Attorney General of Bolivia charged Evo Morales with terrorism and financing of terrorism from exile and is seeking preventive detention.

Since mid-July, thousands of Bolivians have been protesting the postponement of elections. They are holding sustained protests throughout the country and blocking many roads. Indigenous and peasant groups, agricultural groups, along with women and unions are joining together calling for elections.  Morales, Arce, and the MAS Party have denounced the delay.

Domination Will Not Reverse Decline

Evo Morales said in a recent interview “The United States is trying to make Latin America its backyard forever. We know about the hard resistance of the peoples of Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua. The struggle of our peoples is very important. The United States wants to divide us in order to plunder our natural resources. The peoples no longer accept domination and plunder. The United States is in decline, and yet it lashes out.”

The US is weakening as a global power and its failures in Latin America are both a symptom of this and are causing further decline. The US’ violations of international law are obvious and are being challenged. But the US is an empire and it will not give up the Monroe Doctrine easily.

As citizens of Empire, we have a particular responsibility to demand the US stop its sanctions and illegal interference in Latin America and elsewhere around the world. In this time of multiple global crises, we must demand the US become a cooperative member of the world community and work peacefully to address the pandemic, recession and climate crisis.

Structures to do this exist to help with this such as the global ceasefire and the Paris Climate agreement. And on the anniversary of the US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, we must add the Nuclear Ban Treaty as another effort the US must join.

Evo Morales Denounces Latest Coup Plot, Warns of an Immanent Massacre

Source: Internationalist 360°
August 7 2020

Ramiro Garcia

https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.commondreams.org%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fheadline%2Fthumbs%2Fevo_morales_2.jpg&f=1&nofb=1Evo Morales denounces the coup d’état the government and military is preparing.

Lauca Eñe-RKC-7-08-20.- Former Bolivian president Evo Morales Ayma, speaking to Radio Kawsachun Coca on the occasion of the 195th anniversary of the Armed Forces, denounced that according to his information, the government and the military are preparing a coup d’état to prevent the holding of general elections.

“Last minute information, I denounce that General Ivan Ortiz Bravo, head of the third department of the Armed Forces Command, on the instruction of the commander in chief of the Armed Forces, General (Sergio Carlos Orellana), has a coup d’état plan, for some two months, the military patriots informed me that they want to form a civil and military government, now, and they have that plan” he said.

He added that two US planes arrived a few days ago, bringing military equipment, “we don’t know if it’s a donation or a purchase, the army’s immediate response team has been mobilized” he added.

Related: Bolivia: MAS Demands Guaranteed Election Date Through Dialogue

He also reiterated the accusation he made last week that snipers from the Challapata and Sanandita regiments were deployed, which he said were in the tropics and in the city of El Alto.

The former president warned that the government decided to remove the blockade; “yesterday the de facto government again prepared a supreme decree for the armed forces and police to intervene in blockades, especially in the tropics of Cochabamba and Yapacani, using 22 and 25 calibre weapons, and then to say that the demonstrators killed each other,” he said, alerting the organizations mobilized in the country.

“I have this information because there are soldiers who are not with the coup d’état, they are new generations, sons and daughters of the people, I call on them to be with their people, with their fathers, don’t risk the lives of the soldiers, and officers, They have so many people infected with the coronavirus, COSMIL has totally collapsed, and to obey a de facto government with the repression against the people, once again they have a decree ready, I don’t know if they have signed it, until last night it was ready, just like they prepared a decree for the massacre in Sacaba and Senkata.

Related:  Bolivia: Social Movements Maintain Blockades Despite Threats

Morales said that according to the report he has, they are preparing to take over the installations of Radio Kawsachun Coca. “They want to take over the media that reports the truth and that gives us coverage,” he said in time to ask the bases to organize themselves into defense committees or vigils, to defend the community radio stations in particular.