Monday, September 29, 2008

Morales Strengthens & the Media Luna Wanes

Sept 26 (digitalwarriormedia) Dialogue talks between the Bolivian government and opposition prefects remain suspended until Monday despite President Morales’ willingness to include some demands made by the opposition prefects (governors) of Beni, Pando, Tarija, Santa Cruz and Chuquisaca.

Last week before traveling to New York City for the 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations, Morales sent a signed proposal to the opposition. But the prefects refused to sign any agreement.

Morales returned to Cochabamba on Thursday seeking further dialogue on autonomy, the sharing of gas revenue from the Direct Hydrocarbon Tax and the proposed new constitution. These issues are central to the stall in political progress between the administration and opposition governors and are central to the protests, roadblocks and violence that erupted in Bolivia over the past several weeks.

Acts of Sedition and Treason

On Friday, the government implicated those responsible for the massacre in Pando on September 11 that left at least 17 dead. According to Presidential Minister Juan Quintana Ramona there was a network of people who attacked the peasant supporters of President Morales that were working under the direction of the now deposed prefect of Pando, Leopoldo Fernández.

Julio Cesar Villalobos, Director of the Provincial Road Service (Sedcam), was identified as the leader of the massacre. Eyewitness accounts from the ambushes at Porvenir and Philadelphia describe the presence of departmental road service vehicles and workers from Sedcam. Most of the names released on Friday were those of Sedcam officials or employees, but also implicated were civic leaders and prefect officials.

Cesar was in charge of the distributing vehicles, machinery, fuel and financial resources to mobilize people into municipalities and communities.

During a press conference at the Palacio Quemado on Friday, Quintana said the prefect used regional funds, presumably from the Direct Hydrocarbons Tax, to bribe the media and finance subversive activities perpetrated by members of the Civic Committee of Pando, Sedcam, peasants, motorbike drivers and even some of Fernández’s relatives.

Information that Fernadez was financing and training a paramilitary group in Pando date back as far as 2006.

Ex-prefect Fernández was arrested last Monday and is being held in the San Pedro prison in La Paz on charges of violating the constitution and promoting murder. Ana Melendez, chair of the Civic Committee of Pando has fled to neighboring Brazil. Currently Rear Admiral Rafael Bandeira serves as Pando’s interim prefect, appointed to the position by the Bolivian Supreme Court on September 20.

Meanwhile as the central government waits for the opposition prefects to return to the negotiating table, Indymedia Bolivia and ABI are reporting that Branco Marinkovic, head of the Civic Committee of Santa Cruz, is making his own regional tour of Latin America. Marinkovic traveled to Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Paraguay serving as a representative of CONALDE - a political-social organization made up by opposition prefects and regional civic committees - seeking regional alliances in what ABI has termed an effort to establish an “international protectorate”.

Interim Prefect in Cochabamba, Rafael Puente called CONALDE’s actions “unprecedented treachery,” drawing similarities to the separatist movement within Kosovo (ancestral homeland of Marinkovic) which sought autonomy from Yugoslavia. “This is an insult to Bolivia," said Puente.

Earlier this month, the opposition made attempts to expand its regional legitimacy by requesting participation in an emergency session of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) held on September 15. Meeting in Santiago, Chile, South American heads of state met to discuss the political crisis in Bolivia which is largely perpetrated by the activities of the rebel governors. The opposition sought an audience with the regional body as a way to mediate the crisis, but UNASUR rejected CONALDE’s request.

However this past Wednesday UNASUR held a follow-up meeting to address Bolivia’s crisis while several presidents were in New York City for the UN General Assembly. It was the first meeting for the regional group at an international agency.

Morales at the UN

Latin American heads of state used the world stage to display their growing regional integration and power.

On the platform of the world’s most high-level annual meeting, Chile’s Michelle Bachelet, Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner and Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva each took the opportunity to explicitly express not only the support of their respective national governments, but also the support of the entire South American community for the democratically elected government of Evo Morales.

“The La Moneda Summit will forever symbolize the moment at which South American nations decided to strengthen their commitment to democracy, wherever it is threatened anywhere on the continent,” said Bachelet.

In his address before the 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, President Morales once again denounced the global capitalist system and the policies of the United States towards governments that seek true democracy.

For all of the U.S. government’s rhetoric in the War on Terrorism, the U.S. has still failed to condemn the acts of domestic terrorism that have taken place on Bolivian soil in recent weeks.

While speaking at a press conference at the United Nations on Tuesday evening, President Morales spoke at length about the new emerging identity of Latin America, recognizing the shift in political and economic policies led by the grassroots social movements of the people.

"In Bolivia and throughout Latin America there is a process of liberation underway and it can't be stopped. And its not because Evo Morales wants it. Many other leaders want it to. There's a great sense, a great feeling , an aspiration to liberate ourselves," said Morales.

When asked by a reporter about his charges of conspiracy against the U.S., Morales pulled out a laundry list of actions against him linked to the U.S. Embassy, which date back to at least 1996 when he was a union leader in the Chapare and included assassination attempts against him in 2002.

“We could tell you about so many instances but we want the American people to ask their government," said Morales, as he explained the reach of USAID which uses millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars for subversive purposes throughout his country.

"In the Middle East and Latin America, the policies of the U.S. will be defeated. Because capitalism does not provide solutions for the majority of humanity," explained Morales. "The people will move ahead with or without leaders. Think of the hunger, think of the inequality they suffer and that will compel these people to organize and rise up and this is happening in different parts of the world."



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