Re-Targeting Cuba: US Renews Effort to Squash Cuba

Source:  Counterpunch
March 20 2019

Re-Targeting Cuba.jpegPhotograph Source Detail of 1591 map of Florida and Cuba
User: SEWilco • Public domain

Embarked upon overthrowing Venezuela’s socialist government, the U.S. government now renews efforts to squash Cuba. The U.S. record of implacable hostility features terror attacks, military invasion, germ warfare, internal subversion, and almost 60 years of U.S. economic blockade. Devoid of natural resources ready for U.S. plunder, Cuba offends by having defended socialism and national independence. Now Title III of the U.S. 1996 Helms Burton Act joins an arsenal of weapons employed in what Cubans regard as genocidal aggression.

Inflicting suffering and destabilization

Helms Burton is complex but centers on tightening the economic blockade; preparing for a transition government; and by means of Title III, inflicting suffering and destabilization.  The latter is taking place now in Venezuela, by other means.

Title III opens the door for the former owners and the heirs of properties nationalized by Cuba’s revolutionary government to bring actions in U.S. courts to gain compensation for what they lost. Persons or companies presently occupying such properties, or profiting from them, and who are located in third countries, would be required by the courts to pay off the aggrieved parties. These live in exile, mainly in the United States. The courts would lack enforcement capabilities.

In 1966, when the law was introduced, the European Union and other critics insisted that the U.S. government delay implementation of Title III. It did so and for the next 23 years, at six month intervals, the United States did announce one six-month delay after another. But a new era dawned on January 16 when the State Department declared that this time suspended implementation would end at 45 days. Something was up.

On March 4 the State Department indicated that in 30 more days Title III would be applied to the foreign and Cuban “traffickers” in nationalized properties. Also Title III would, as of March 19, be extended to 200 Cuban enterprises controlled by Cuban security forces or state agencies, many of them connected with Cuba’s tourist industry. The U.S. government in November, 2017 had already put those facilities off limits to U.S. tourists.

Violation of Cuban sovereignty

As of early April, international investors, aid agencies, and business-persons active or looking to be active in Cuba will be facing vast uncertainties. The former owners of nationalized properties may be suing them in U.S. courts. Concerned about a slippery slope of U.S. disfavor, they may cease involvement with Cuba.  And what with unsettling news, foreign lenders may shy away from possibly risky loans for projects in Cuba.

RelatedCuban Ambassador to Jamaica: The US will keep on failing … civilized and respectful coexistence shall prevail

Title III promises what Cubans call “extraterritorial” effects. It further universalizes application of the U.S. blockade which, potentially involving all countries, violates their sovereignty.

But in a Machiavelliantwist, the State Department will apparently wield the “trafficking” charge selectively. Cuban analyst Reinaldo Taladrid Herrero explains:“The road to Havana passes through Caracas.” Specifically, “They are going to exempt all businesses of countries allied with the United States, above all Canada and the European countries …. Implementation will be centered on adversary countries like Russia, China, and Venezuela.” Others share his views.

Violation of International Law

Title III violates international law, according to Russia; Cuba solidarity groups have protested. A few business-oriented U.S. groups oppose Title III out of concern that future U.S. commercial ventures in Cuba would be vulnerable.

Cuba’s government argues that nationalization was and is legal according to international norms and court decisions in the United States.  Cuba has sought satisfaction from the United States for deaths and destruction due to U.S. assaults. Negotiations taking place briefly during the Obama era looked at balancing Cuba’s claims with U.S demands stemming from nationalization.

Title III means major trouble for Cuba. The government there is presently mounting an effort to bolster the nation’s economy. Foreign investors will asume a major role in the project. They would provide $2.5 billion annually toward building or refurbishing Cuban institutions, companies, and infrastructure. But any good will on their part may well evaporate once threats loom as to court actions in the United States.

Food imports

The availability to the Cuban people of food, health care, schools, building supplies, medicines, and transportation rests on loans and export income from abroad and on income from joint ventures with foreign entities. By 2014 Cuba needed $2.5 billion annually in direct foreign investment. The fact that food imports alone currently require an annual outlay of $2 billion suggests that current requirements are greater.

Title III contains the seeds for havoc in the event that Cuba’s government is no more and the United States takes charge. According to Cuba’s Granma newspaper, Cubans “would be forced to return, reimburse or pay U.S. claimants for the house in which they live, the area on which their communities are built, the arable land where they cultivate produce, the school where their children are educated, the hospital or polyclinic where they receive medical assistance.”

Political terrorism

Cuban Journalist Lázaro Barredo, formerly editor of Granma,summarizes“Helms Burton literally has no precedents in the legal history of the United States. [It] constitutes an attack on sovereignty within the international community [and] represents political terrorism.” Helms Burton would “extend U.S. jurisdiction to other countries in an extraterritorial manner with the perverse intention of frightening, scaring, blackmailing, or dissuading persons interested in investing in Cuba.” We see a decision “to repossess the island, annex it, and move it toward total subordination to the United States.”

This report closes with a condemnation of the generalized cruelty and cynicism that is rooted in the strategic thinking of U.S. power brokers.For example, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, presiding at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on March 7, heard testimony from “Cynthia Arnson of the US-funded Wilson Center.” She “agreed with Rubio that ‘widespread unrest’ is useful, but cautioned that … ‘starving people don’t get out in the streets.’” In other words, a little starving is OK, but not too much.

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More articles by:W. T. WHITNEY

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a retired pediatrician and political journalist living in Maine.

 

The Helms-Burton is not applicable in Cuba

Source: Granma
May 17 2019

by: Yudy Castro Morales | internet@granma.cu

the helms burton is not applicable to cubaPhoto: José Manuel Correa

“The Helms-Burton Act is not applicable in Cuba; in the first place, because it is a law of the United States and therefore its jurisdiction, its range of action, is the United States. No sovereign country that respects itself would allow the extraterritorial application of a U.S. law in its territory. In addition, in our case, Cuba has a law approved in 1996 that declares the Helms-Burton Act null and void.”

Carlos Fernández de Cossío 2.jpgThis is how Carlos Fernández de Cossío, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ general director for the United States, explained the situation, which is worth repeating for those with doubts about this famous law’s lack of validity. This legal creation, meant to strangle the Cuban economy, is well-known precisely because of its extraterritoriality, and its disrespect for international law.

A violation to Cuba’s sovereignty

The Helms-Burton Act is, above all, a violation to Cuba’s sovereignty, which purports to compensate potential claimants of U.S. properties nationalized in Cuba after the triumph of the Revolution. This barely exceeds the category of a pretext, although it is probably the argument that has caused the most turmoil, since it implies potential damage to third parties. This has been enough to intimidate those who can be intimidated and creating uncertainty.The essential nature of the law, as several experts have noted, lies in its colonizing spirit, in its expansionist hunger in the most faithful imperial style.

This “legislative instrument” denies, in terms of sovereignty, everything that Cuba has conquered for its people, enshrined in its Constitution with the majority support of the people.Cuba’s Magna Carta, which we Cubans approved, of our own free will, states in its first article, “Cuba is a socialist state of law and social justice, democratic, independent, and sovereign, organized with all and for the good of all as a unitary and indivisible republic, founded on work, dignity, humanism, and the morality of its citizens for the enjoyment of freedom, equity, equality, solidarity, wellbeing, and individual and collective prosperity.”And the sovereignty which this law is intended to violate “resides intransferably in the people, from whom all state power emanates.” Thus the Helms-Burton has no legitimacy, nor do such international relations, which are to be based, according to the Constitution, “on the exercise of sovereignty and anti-imperialist, internationalist principles, to serve the interests of the people.”

No negotiation under coercion

Article 16 reaffirms that “economic, diplomatic, and political relations with any other state can never be negotiated under aggression, threat, or coercion,” and reiterated is the aspiration for “an honorable, true, and valid peace for all states, based on respect for independence and sovereignty of the peoples and their right to self-determination, expressed in the right to freely chose their political, economic, social, and cultural system, as an essential condition to ensure peaceful coexistence among nations.”

Likewise established is the commitment “to strictly abide by the principles and norms of international law, in particular equality of rights; territorial integrity; the independence of states; no use or threat to use force in international relations; international cooperation for mutual, equitable benefit; the peaceful resolution of conflicts on the basis of equality, respect and other principles proclaimed in the United Nations Charter.”

Cubans are governed by our own laws

The Helms-Burton obviously advocates the contrary, but Cubans are governed by our own laws.

The Constitution also “condemns imperialism, fascism, colonialism, neocolonialism, and other forms of domination, in any of their expressions.” Is not any attempt to implement the Helms-Burton meant to impose subjugation?

Also ruled out are “direct or indirect intervention in the internal or external affairs of any state, and therefore, armed aggression, any form of economic or political coercion, unilateral blockades that violate international law, or any type of interference or threat to the integrity of states.”

We already know, based on our 60 years of experience, that the unilateral blockade is one of the keys to our northern neighbor’s foreign policy. In fact, the Helms-Burton codifies in law this policy and extends its impact internationally.

A mockery of international norms

Cuba’s Constitution insists on maintaining and fostering “friendly relations with countries which, having a different political, social and economic regime, respect our sovereignty, observe the norms of coexistence among states, and adopt a reciprocal attitude with our country, in accordance with the principles of international law. “But what is the Helms-Burton Law if not a mockery of international norms, of every elementary principle of coexistence among nations?The Magna Carta indicates that the Cuban state will, “promote multilateralism and multipolarity in international relations, as alternatives to domination and political, financial, and military hegemony or any other manifestation that threatens the peace, independence or sovereignty of peoples.”In other words: Cuba rejects each and every one of the postulates put forward by the Helms-Burton Act.

The implementation of its Title III

The Helms-Burton purports to establish the blockade as perpetual. The implementation of its Title III, suspended through May 2, reinforces and tightens the blockade. A new measure set up for failure, at a time when Cuba is precisely focused on attracting foreign investment, and diversifying, broadening its markets, not cutting them off.

In fact, the Constitution establishes this with great clarity: “The state promotes and provides guarantees for foreign investment, as an element important to the country’s economic development, on the foundation of protection and rational use of natural and human resources, as well respect for national sovereignty and independence.”

miguel diaz canel 20.jpgThese guarantees, as noted by the President of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, on his official Twitter account, are established in Foreign Investment Law 118, and Law 80 on the Reaffirmation of Cuban Dignity and Sovereignty, despite the aggressive escalation and uncertainty that the illegal Helms-Burton Law causes.

And speaking of guarantees, Cuba’s Constitution explicitly reiterates that the socialist property of the entire people includes “lands not owned by individuals or cooperatives, the subsoil, mineral deposits, mines, forests, waters, beaches, means of communication, and both living and non-living resources within the Republic’s exclusive economic zone.”

Also included are “other assets such as infrastructure of general interest, the principal industries, and economic and social installations, as well as others of a strategic importance to the country’s social and economic development.”

“These assets are nontransferable and their ownership can only be altered in exceptional cases, with the approval of the Council of Ministers, provided that they are to be destined for the economic and social development of the country and do not affect the political, economic, and social foundations of the state.”Have you thought about whether your children’s school was one of the properties that someone could claim; or the hospital you go to, the bank, the stadium, the market…?Probably not, because we rarely waste time on such nonsense.The Helms-Burton Act is disconcerting. No doubt. Nonetheless, as emphasized by the Constitutional principles that govern the country’s entire legal system, “Cuba repudiates and considers illegal and null any treaty, concessions or pact agreed upon under conditions of inequality, or that ignore or diminish our sovereignty or territorial integrity.”

Zakharova: Neither Russia nor Venezuela are US provinces

Source:  TeleSUR
March 28 2019

russia tells trump telesur.jpgForeign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova at a press conference in
Moscow, Russia March 15 2019 Photo EFE

Russian technical cooperation is not geopolitically motivated and is based on respect for international and domestic laws.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova rejected Thursday President Donald Trump’s statements regarding the presence of Russian military in Venezuela and noted that her country’s actions were legitimate and agreed upon with the President Nicolas Maduro administration.

RELATED:  US Calls on Russia to Withdraw from Venezuela

“The Russian side did not violate anything: neither the international agreements nor Venezuelan laws. Russia is not changing the balance of power in the region; Russia is not threatening anyone, unlike [Washington officials],” Zakharova said and added that “Russian specialists… arrived in accordance with the clauses of a bilateral agreement on technical-military cooperation.”

The spokeswoman called the U.S. criticism “an arrogant attempt” to dictate to sovereign states how their bilateral relations should be.

“Neither Russia nor Venezuela are U.S. provinces,” the Kremlin spokeswoman insisted and explained that the Russian military presence in Venezuela “is not linked to possible military operations.”

The official also stressed that her country respects the Venezuelan people and its elected rulers. “If we talk about the authority, there is no authority in Venezuela except the President’s Maduro government,” she said.

teleSUR English@telesurenglish

| Spokesperson for the Russian chancellery, Maria Zajárova, clarified that the Russian military specialists’ objective in is to strengthen the technical-military cooperation. It does NOT violate international law.

Hansell Oro@HansellteleSUR

#Moscú | La portavoz de la cancillería rusa, María Zajárova, aclaró que los especialistas militares rusos en #Venezuela es con el objetivo de fortalecer la cooperación técnico-militar. NO viola el derecho internacional. No se trata de la presencia militar de #Rusia en el país.

View image on Twitter
President Trump Wednesday called on Russia to pull its military from Venezuela and indicated that the U.S. maintains “all options open” for the Russian military to leave that country. In a similar sense, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted that Russia’s influence on Cuba and Nicaragua must be stopped.

The U.S. reaction comes after the arrival of two Russian planes into Venezuela on Feb. 23. According to local media, these planes carried 99 military personnel and 35 tons of material, an operation which was carried out under the command of the Ground Army Chief General Vasily Tonkoshkurov.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman also commented that the U.S. should be more concerned about fulfilling its promises about Syria than about what Russia and Venezuela should do.

“Before advising someone to leave somewhere, the U.S. needs to implement its own exit plan from Syria… a month has passed… can it be specified if it has been retired or not?” Zakharova asked and added that “I would advise the U.S. administration to fulfill promises given to the international community before handling other countries’ legitimate interests.”

UN: Venezuela’s Arreaza Calls US Aims the ‘Politics of Death’

Source:  TeleSUR
February 26 2019

areezaven for min.jpg

This is the second session of the Security Council held to discuss Venezuela and the United States’s push for military intervention.

Following a request from the United States, the United Nations Security Council is holding a session to discuss the state of Venezuela and its internal political situation.

RELATED:  Genocide Survivors Demand Elliott Abrams Leave Holocaust Committee Board

This is the second session of the Security Council held to discuss the political situation in Venezuela following a meeting on Jan. 26 in the U.S.

Representatives from the United States, France, United Kingdom, Russia, China, Poland, Peru, The Dominican Republic, Belgium, South Africa, Kuwait, Germany, Indonesia, and Venezuela spoke to the international delegation.

Despite the position held by some countries opposed to the Venezuelan Government, its representatives have reiterated the rejection of the use of force by U.S. authorities.

Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza called the international aggression a threat to Venezuela’s sovereignty and the rights of a free people as well as a violation of the United Nations charter.

“Now is the time for us to return to sanity and respect international law and respect the Venezuelan constitution. We are waiting to see the members of the Venezuelan opposition. Mr. Guaido and whoever else- they will decide who will sit down with the constitutional government of Venezuela, then among Venezuelans, we can build our own solution. Without intervention, interference from anyone, much less the United States,” Arreaza said.

The Bolivarian official thanked the members of the Montevideo Mechanism for its support for peaceful dialogue and allowing the country to solve its differences domestically.

“We are prepared to sit down and to come up with solutions with Mr. Guaido and whoever else wishes to sit down with us, but they don’t wish to sit down with us. They say there is no time for dialogue, Mr. Maduro has to go, the regime has to change, there has to be an invasion in Venezuela. But there’s no call in this security council to say, ‘You have to sit down,’” the minister said.

Arreaza asked UN security council members to consider the fact that the United States is threatening to shoot migrants along its southern border and what would happen if Venezuela, Nicaragua, or Cuba- all countries which have been burdened with U.S. intervention- were to intervene, citing a “humanitarian crisis.”

#LIVE | Venezuela’s @jaarreaza at the UN: “What would the US do if Cuba and Nicaragua attempted to enter their country, to provide aid for the humanitarian crisis that is clearly taking place at the US border.”

“Venezuela is staying out of the internal affairs of the United States and the electoral campaign here… There’s a lot of hypocrisy and arrogance at play here. And this is what the UN security council should address.

“The security council is not here to make war, the Security Council is not here to establish conditions for others to make war, the council is not here to endorse violent breaches of the United Nations Charter, rather the security council is here to maintain international peace and security and to preserve future generations from the scourge of war… let’s save Venezuela and this generation because the threat of war is here today,” Arreaza said.

Arreaza’s arguments were supported by a number of countries, among them the Russian representative, who stated that “Washington’s sole aim was not resolving the problems of Venezuela, their aim is regime change via foreign intervention.”

#LIVE | Russia at the UN security council: “Washington’s sole aim was not resolving the problems of Venezuela, their aim is regime change via foreign intervention.”
China also joined in the chorus against intervention by saying that “We oppose using so-called humanitarian aid for political purposes to destabilize Venezuela and the wider region”

#LIVE | China at the security council: “We oppose using so-called humanitarian aid for political purposes to destabilize Venezuela and the wider region”

Venezuela: Massive Bolivarian March For Peace And Sovereignty

Source:  TeleSUR

venezuela massive bolivarian march for peace.jpg

Venezuela: Massive Bolivarian March For Peace And Sovereignty

Diosdado Cabello, president of the Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly (ANC) headed a new episode of the massive March for Peace that filled the streets of Ciudad Bolivar, in the Bolivar state that borders with Brasil and Guyana.

RELATED:  Facts Refuting Claims of ‘Humanitarian Crisis’ in Venezuela

“Venezuela is a country of warriors that will stand against anybody,” stated Cabello, form the Angostura Bridge on the border with Brazil. The Chavista leader called upon the Bolivarian people to defend the homeland against the foreign attacks that Venezuela is living.

Cabello, who is also the first Vice President of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), denounced that “what is behind the alleged ‘humanitarian aid‘ is a big business,” that is being led by the Venezuelan right-wing for their own profit.

In this massive mobilization, tens of thousands gathered to defend peace and to reject the interventionist intentions in which the United States and its allies are backing a coup d’etat. The Bolivar state is a geopolitical strategic territory in Venezuela because it borders with Guyana and with Brazil.

The Bolivar state could be an entry point in which the opposition members could try to enter the alleged “humanitarian aid,” sent by the U.S. and managed by right-wing forces in Venezuela.

However, Diosdado Cabello highlighted that the 70 tones of “humanitarian aid,” can’t be compared with the over six million families that are beneficiaries of the Local Committees of Supply and Production (Clap), provided by the Bolivarian government.

Also on Wednesday morning, another concentration happened in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, in support of democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro by workers in the transport sector. In parallel, the opposition made a mobilization in surrounding streets.

Cabello ensured the support for the Bolivarian and Chavista revolution and stated that “the right assumes that they will arrive (to power). They believe that the patriots are going to run away, they think they are going to rule. This country will always be loyal to Chavez! “

Bolivia Under Evo Morales: 13 Years of Reclaiming Sovereignty

Source:  TeleSUR
January 23 2019

evo morales may 2018 2.png

Even the IMF has had to admit that Bolivia is a clear cut success story

“Mr. Evo Morales, it’s easy to make speeches about sovereignty and independence….come and govern, then you’ll see what it’s really like to administer the state” – Carlos Mesa, former president, and current opposition candidate said in 2005 in his resignation speech.

Bolivia

Bolivia has lived 13 years of the ‘process of change’ under the leadership of Evo Morales and the MAS (Movement Towards Socialism). Morales and the MAS were forged in a climate of radical street movements against privatization of natural resources. The MAS grouped together Indigenous social movements, with self-organized movements of the urban slums and what remained of the traditional Marxist left in the trade unions and the academy.

RELATED:  Bolivia Becomes Natural Gas Powerhouse, Expands Exports To Peru

By 2005 this coalition came to represent the crystallization of the deep-seated resentment, not just at privatization, but of 500 years of colonialism, social exclusion and a neoliberal democracy that wasn’t able or willing to meet people’s basic needs.

Bolivia’s social movements and non-sectarian left grouped around the MAS and won at the ballot box in 2005. In January of this year, they face primary elections than presidential elections in November of this year. They’ve won every election since 2005 with larger majorities each time, this despite a constant manipulation of public information from private media, and right-wing attempts at destabilization.

Why? What has 13 years of the ‘process of change’ meant for the country beyond greater representation for the Indigenous? On the questions of economic development, health and education, foreign policy the critics of the MAS have predicted disaster but instead been met by the undeniable policy success.

Economy 

“These actions against foreign investors really dampen the investment climate in Bolivia”  – U.S. State Department said in 2012.

Markets were jittery as the left took power in Bolivia. The Washington Consensus stated that only free markets, ‘flexible’ labor markets and monetarist policies could pave a path to economic development. Bolivia’s political class was determined to follow this religiously. Over 200 public companies were privatized, sold to foreign corporations at knockdown prices, this alone is thought to have damaged the economy to the tune of $22bn. What followed was a catastrophic fall in GDP and hyperinflation running at over 8000% by the end of 1985.

Despite this clear policy failure, many investors left the country as the left took power in 2005, fearing that “socialism” would bring economic ruin.

RELATED:  Bolivia: Historic Economic Levels Led by President Evo Morales

Though, over 13 years the left has presided over an economic miracle that even the IMF has had to admit that Bolivia is a clear cut success story. The economy has more than tripled in size, Bolivia is on course to be South America’s fastest growing economy for yet another year despite falls in the price of key exports.

Annual Inflation is running at a paltry 1.5 percent, whilst their neighbor Argentina sinks further into hyperinflation since adopting the neoliberal model that earned them praise from successive U.S. administrations.

Most important of all, the reduction in poverty has been the most impressive achievement of the MAS. When Morales took office, Bolivia was facing a humanitarian crisis with 60 percent of the total population living below the poverty line, that figure has been slashed in half by the MAS government.

This economic model that has produced these results is defined as a rejection of IMF recipes. Instead, Morales proceeded to nationalize Bolivia’s large strategic industries. Now that profits of those industries provided revenue for the state, those profits were used on capital spending, most notably on a massive integrated infrastructure plan that has been a crucial factor stimulating wider growth. State transport and manufacturing initiatives have also kick-started economic development in areas the free-market had never reached.

Health & Education

“[The government] neglects health and education, while ignoring calls for austerity”- Monsignor Gualberti, Catholic Church

A common refrain amongst Morales’ critics is that they’ve made little progress on health and education and that those vital services continue in state disrepair. One can expect this line to continue in the right wing media, even as the government is registering citizens for free universal healthcare.

It is true that Bolivia still until recently had lacked a comprehensive and public health system, as exists in Cuba. However, the situation in health and education has vastly improved, it’s just that it has mostly benefited the rural poor whose voices are not and have never been represented in the mainstream urban press.

RELATED:  Evo Morales Will Host ‘Year of Indigenous Languages’: UN

Between 2006 and 2018, the ‘Mi Salud’ program, operating with the help of Cuban doctors, has provided 16.4 million free health appointments, including 700,000 free eye surgeries in what’s known as ‘operation miracle’. These programmes involve reaching the poorest and most isolated, often going to their homes in far out areas of the Amazonian and Andean regions.

In education, the changes have been transformative too, not that it garners much coverage in private media. In the year 2000, amidst the firesale privatizations, just 35,73 percent of primary school age children were enrolled in school, after 10 years of the MAS in power, that number more than doubled, and continues to grow.

Again, those benefiting are mostly the rural poor, an inauguration ceremony for a public school in isolated communities is an almost weekly occurrence, though only covered by state media outlets.

Implementing the universal health care system will nevertheless be a serious challenge in Bolivia. The Doctors Association is vehemently opposed and already protested and gone on strike against the plan for free health. Most doctors would stand to lose as business for their private clinics dries up.

Sovereignty   

“In our view this was a grave error. Blaming others for your internal problems is not the way to cultivate bilateral relations.” – Former U.S. ambassador Philip Goldberg on being expelled from the country

The year 2003 was one of Bolivia’s worst years in recent history, not only was it the year of the ‘Black October’ massacre, but it was also one of the most brazen transfers of sovereignty to the U.S.. In 2003 an agreement was signed to give legal immunity to all U.S. soldiers and citizens in Bolivian territory, they had free reign to violate national laws and would not have to face justice unless it was at the request of the U.S. government.

The U.S. presence in Bolivia, through military advisors and bases, was part of Washington’s “War on Drugs” policy in the region that has historically allowed it access and interference in the internal affairs of Latin American countries.

In a rejection to such practices by the United States and in a clear signal that the people and their representatives will have full sovereignty over their country’s affairs and resources, Morales expelled the U.S. military bases in Bolivia, as well as the presence of the DEA and USAID along with the U.S. ambassador.

RELATED:  Bolivia Rejects US Threats of International Intervention: Pary

The country’s strategic industries were nationalized, therefore bringing back key decisions over development. Conventional wisdom would dictate that the size of U.S. investments in Bolivia mean that good relations must be maintained despite abuses and violations of sovereignty. Though, Bolivia has thrived since clawing back its independence.

The reactions in Bolivia to Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro gives a glimpse of how the country risks slipping back into a foreign policy of dependency. Bolivia sells large amounts of natural gas to Brazil and needs cooperation with them to combat trafficking and other issues on the border. Morales will have to maintain relations and has done so. However, he has been quick to stand up for Bolivia’s interests when there has been a lack of respect, like when one of Bolsonaro’s deputies made racists comments about Indigenous communities.

Evo publicly denounced the attack and demanded an apology. Whereas opposition candidates and activists claimed ‘we have to get on with our neighbors’. The deputy Rafael Quispe, an Indigenous deputy for the right-wing opposition claims to ‘not be offended’ by anti-Indigenous racism because ‘we have to get on with Brazil’. Opposition candidate to the presidency, Victor Hugo Cardenas (also Indigenous), actively celebrated Bolsonaro’s victory and seeks to replicate his ultra-conservative populism.

Submission to unequal foreign relations, whether that’s the U.S. or Brazil, does not represent ‘good relations’, it represents a defeat and humiliation of a government’s foreign policy.

Since taking power at the ballot box, the MAS has made profound changes to a country that had been in a state of ruin for a number of years following ‘structural adjustment’ (neoliberalism), and if Morales wins again this year then the process will have to deepen to overcome the challenges Bolivia still faces.

The role of the social movements and Morales’ government in recuperating a sense of cultural pride is recognized all over the world, as is the achievements on greater social inclusion for the country’s historically excluded communities.

Though, as the ‘process of change’ enters its 13th year, wider changes are worth analyzing. The process of recuperating economic and political sovereignty, together with the economic success that’s been sustained despite the crisis across the region and the low prices of its key exports.

The model of nationalizing strategic sectors and using its revenues for big capital spending for the common good can serve as a model for the rising left globally. Whether for Jeremy Corbyn in Britain, or Jean Luc-Melenchon in France, studying the Bolivian model will be crucial in building post-neoliberal economies.

Putin Warns US: Hands Off Venezuela

Source:  RT
January 24 2019

Rick Sanchez reports on the latest developments in Venezuela’s intensifying political crisis. Then RT America’s Dan Cohen reports on the increasingly shrill back-and-forth between Washington and Caracas as well as Russian voices joining the mix, with President Putin denouncing the present US interference in Venezuela as “a gross violation of the fundamental norms of international law.”