Bolivia's referendums, August 10, 2008 and January 25, 2009

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M. Spector M. Spector's picture
Bolivia's referendums, August 10, 2008 and January 25, 2009


M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url= AFP:[/url] Bolivia on Friday banned booze, firearms and campaigning ahead of a referendum called by President Evo Morales to break a political crisis with rebel governors defying his socialist reforms.

The restrictions will remain in force until the day after Sunday's plebiscite that puts Morales's mandate and those of eight of Bolivia's nine governors to the vote.

Most are expected to hold on to their posts, including Morales, who enjoys massive support among the indigenous majority from which he hails.

But referendum rules that favor the president, and the refusal of one governor -- Morales's fiercest critic, Manfred Reyes Villa, who rules the central state of Cochabamba -- to accept a vote requiring him to step down, offer the potential for disputes and possibly violence.

Morales, 48, espouses the anti-US, anti-capitalist stance of his closest ally in Latin America, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

With the referendum, he is seeking to shore up his authority, which has been eroded since he took power in 2006 by the right-leaning governors in Bolivia's wealthier lowland east, where the country's all-important natural gas fields are located.

Those governors have taken steps towards autonomy, rejecting Morales's moves to give more of the nation's limited wealth to the indigenous Indians, moves that have included nationalizations and an attempt to rewrite the constitution.

The crisis pits the poor Andean west against the richer east, the indigenous majority against the elite of mixed European descent, and leftwing ideology against the right....

The referendum requires voters to vote "yes" or "no" on two questions:

- if they agree to continue the process of change launched by President Morales;

- if they agree with continuing the policies, actions and management of their respective governor.

[ 22 October 2008: Message edited by: M. Spector ]

M. Spector M. Spector's picture


A win at the polls is crucial, but it is not likely to stop the growing tensions that have polarized the country, created a crisis between national and local legal institutions, dried up private investment and led to increasingly violent clashes between supporters on both sides.

The following are some of the crises the government will still have to contend with:

* If several opposition governors lose, they and their supporters may refuse to accept the results, which could lead to increased violence and make certain departments ungovernable;

* A new constitution that aims to include Bolivia’s historically excluded indigenous majority within a “plurinational” state, with greater state control over natural resources, was passed in December 2007 by an assembly that was boycotted by opposition parties. It still awaits approval in a national referendum that is being blocked by the opposition-controlled Senate.

* Even the location of the nation’s capital is in dispute. Sucre, which is in the hands of the opposition, is the historic capital of Bolivia, but all the state powers were shifted to La Paz in the wake of the 1899 Federal War between conservatives in the south and liberals around La Paz. Opposition leaders, however, have been complaining about “La Paz centralism” and whipping up local sentiment for Sucre to become the capital. This has led to violent clashes that will likely continue.

* Tensions with the U.S. government have been rising, as more information comes out regarding U.S. support for the opposition. The Morales administration has accused the US Agency for International Development (AID) of working to undermine it. Vice President Alvaro Garcia said the U.S. was trying to develop “ideological and political resistance.” In June the Bush administration recalled its ambassador to Bolivia for several weeks following massive protests outside the US embassy, which the U.S. accused Morales of inciting. As Bolivia continues to strengthen its ties with leftist governments in the region and reject free market economic policies, it will face increasing opposition from the U.S. government.


M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Polls close in two hours' time, at 4 p.m. EDT. Results will take several hours, but exit poll results will be available probably by 6 p.m.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

President Evo Morales scored a split victory in a national referendum Sunday when Bolivians voted to keep him in office but also ratified governors who are his implacable foes, [b]according to television exit polls.[/b]

The result will mean continued division along political and geographic lines over Morales' efforts to push through Socialist policies meant to give greater political and economic power to the indigenous majority, analysts said.

"The polarization will continue," former President Carlos Mesa said in an interview. "So will the radical policies by both sides. Neither side has enough power to make the changes it wants on its own."

Morales emerged from Sunday's plebiscite with a strengthened hand after winning 60 percent of the overall vote, according to ATB television station. Morales received overwhelming majorities in Bolivia's western Andean states.

In the expectations game, the 60 percent result would reinvigorate the president politically because it would top the 53.5 percent he received when he was elected in December 2005.

But the opposition - which is centered in the more entrepreneurial-minded eastern states - has also emerged fortified. Three of the four states that voted this year for great autonomy from the central government in La Paz rejected the president, and voters ratified opposition governors in all four of the states.

Ruben Costas, governor of the main opposition state, Santa Cruz, won 71 percent of the vote, according to ATB.

Manfred Reyes, the governor of Cochabamba state, was losing, according to exit polls.

Reyes had said that the referendum was illegal and that he would not leave the governor's office on Monday. That could set the stage for a violent confrontation in a state where pro-government supporters burned the governor's office 18 months ago in opposition to Reyes.

- [url=]Source[/url]

martin dufresne

I am concerned about the increasing credibility given to these alleged "exit polls" that have no accountability or controls whatsoever and allow pundits to "announce" the results of an election - with heavy emphasis on the camp they are partial to (McClatchy's Washington Bureau barely hides its hostility to Morales), discrediting in advance actual election results when they come out as different from those of the RW media's so-called "poll".

M. Spector M. Spector's picture


7:30pm: The 'Evo-Si', 'Manfed-No' Juggernaut Continues, and Reports from Around Bolivia

The lopsided vote in favor of Evo and against Manfred continues to only get only more lopsided as the votes are counted. With moe than 90% of the national voting caluculated, it looks like this now:

Evo Morales: Si (62%) No (38%)

Manfred Reyes Villa: Si (40%) No (60%)



Thanks, M. Spector. I haven't been commenting but I've been following your posts on this throughout the day. I'm sure others have, too.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Thanks RosaL. Nice to know someone's out there.

a lonely worker

MS, as Rosa said thanks for those great links. Here's another great article giving an on the ground view of what's happening. its a great oversight especially regarding the EU's dirty role as well:

[url=]Bolivia: Is Evo in Danger after the August 10 referendum ? The US prepares a civil war[/url]

Ken Burch

Thanks for the updates, Spector.


Thanks for the outstanding links on this current event, M.Spector, and to all who have been adding valuable info.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture


Originally posted by a lonely worker:
[url=]Bolivia: Is Evo in Danger after the August 10 referendum ? The US prepares a civil war[/url]

Good article! [p.s. - Nice to see you again, lonely!]


But first of all let us take a look at what Evo accomplished in two-and-a-half years ... He nationalized oil and gas....

By nationalizing its hydrocarbon resources, Evo multiplied the public revenues by five and gave himself the means for relieving the most urgent evils: illiteracy has dropped by 80 percent, a part of the children working in the streets have returned to school, schools teaching in the Indian languages Aymara and Quechua have been established (20,000 graduates), free health care is already available for half of the Bolivians, a "Dignity" pension for those over 60, credit with zero-percent interest for products like corn, wheat, soy and rice. Thanks to Venezuelan aid, 6,000 computers were made available, especially at schools. Thanks to Cuban aid, 260,000 people had eye operations. Elsewhere in Latin America, they would be condemned to be blind, because they are poor.

Moreover, the public investments to develop the economy increased greatly. Bolivia eliminated its fiscal deficit, repaid half of its foreign debt (now down from $5.0 to 2.2 billion), reconstituted a small financial reserve, multiplied employment in the mines and the metal industries by four, and doubled the production and the incomes of these industries. The industrial GDP passed from $4.1 to $7.1 billion in three years. A thousand tractors were distributed to peasants. New roads were built.

[ 11 August 2008: Message edited by: M. Spector ]

ceti ceti's picture

Evo won despite the sickening attacks of Bolivia media which is still dominated by the old elites.

Sadly, will history repeate itself? The US went through a Civil War to end slavery. Will Bolivia be subjected to the same by the intransigence of the white supremacists in the rich provinces to share their wealth?

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

LA PAZ, Aug 11 [url=[/url] -


Almost everyone was a winner in Bolivia's recall election with President Evo Morales and his political arch-enemies all celebrating landslide victories, but it may be the worst possible outcome.

The votes on Sunday were a face-off between Morales and a group of right-wing governors who abhor his plans for socialist constitutional and land reforms and are fighting back by demanding autonomy for their provinces and a bigger share of windfall natural gas revenues.

Defeat would have forced Morales to step down. He easily survived with unofficial results showing he won more than 60 percent support, but his main rivals also won their recall votes with healthy majorities, reinforcing their support in the country's richest provinces.

The results will likely deepen Bolivia's political deadlock as both sides feel emboldened and play to their political galleries.

ceti ceti's picture

However, Evo did win a respectable level of support in the hostile provinces. [url=


I think I will wait for the official final results.


Definitely an interesting result - Morales confirmed in office - but so were most of his opponents in the provincial capitals.



Originally posted by Doug:
[b]Definitely an interesting result - Morales confirmed in office - but so were most of his opponents in the provincial capitals.[/b]

Do you have a link to actual results so far I can't find any and would appreciate some real info.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture


Official results are not expected for a week.

[url= Times[/url]

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url= Referendum Results Analysis[/url]

These are just highlights. It's worth reading the whole article.


As more results from rural areas flood in, last Sunday’s recall referendum keeps looking better and better for Evo Morales and his Movimiento a Socialismo party. [b]After having won the Bolivian presidency in 2005 with approximately 54% of the popular vote, Evo surprised everyone by not only winning the recall referendum convoked by the right-wing opposition, but by winning big, with the Bolivian daily Los Tiempos reporting him taking almost 67% of the vote as of 10 AM Wednesday.[/b] Commentators that had lamented Evo’s loss of support by his “frightening of the middle class” and “loss of the urban vote” were left surprised that Evo was able to not only consolidate his support in rural Bolivia to near unanimity, but make [b]substantial inroads in urban centers[/b] such as Cochabamba, in which vocal anti-Morales sentiment is frequently heard. He even captured about 40% of the vote in Santa Cruz, the heart of the autonomist movement, and [b]a 53.88% majority in Chuquisaca, where just weeks ago he was violently prevented from entering its capital Sucre.[/b] A minor opponent of the government, Jose Luis Paredes, the governor of La Paz, was easily recalled, as was a major opponent, Manfred Reyes Villa of Cochabamba.

It is extremely likely that, as he announced in his victory speech, Evo will use this as a mandate to push more aggressively for his project of social transformation – a new, indigenous-centered constitution, nationalization of formerly-privatized industries, and a pursuit of land reform in Eastern Bolivia. He would be correct in doing so – [b]with his achievement of such a clear mandate, it may be now or never for his government to act decisively.[/b] However, he needs to be conscious of numerous pitfalls along the way.

Looking on the bright side, Evo’s surprising approval in the autonomist states suggests that the opposition to his government voiced by regional leaders and the press does not represent significant sectors of society in the so-called “Media Luna” of opposition. He appears to have won a slim majority of 52.7% in the peripheral but Santa Cruz-aligned state of Pando and nearly 49% in the important oil-rich state of Tarija. [b]Despite the radical opposition voiced to his government in his two years in power from these areas, this percentage represents a significant increase over the level of support he got there in 2005.[/b] However, the easy margins of victory for the opposition governors suggest that the application of any kind of assertive policy that affects elite interests will be bitterly contested….

It is likely that despite winning a level of support unheard of for a Bolivian president in the democratic era, [b]Evo will still be unable to visit 5 out of the country’s 9 states unless he is willing to use force to subdue violent right-wing youth groups, actions which could spark a wider conflagration.[/b] The tone of his latest speech was conciliatory to the victorious opposition prefects and called for dialogue, but as it becomes increasingly clear that they will agree only to a dialogue that preserves their rights to rule the East as their private fiefdoms, the government may have to become more aggressive.

The most proximate struggle will be over the [b]blowout loss of Manfred Reyes Villa in Cochabamba, who got crushed by an almost 65-35% margin, but has repeatedly refused to accept the results of the referendum.[/b] The regional left-wing and MAS have a visceral hatred for Manfred, and will remove him by violence if he refuses to go quietly….

The question of the day is whether the right-wing opposition will circle its wagons to defend its ally in Cochabamba or decide that he is a lost cause and consent to a potential MAS takeover of the heartland of the country….

…[I]t seems that the opposition is numerically smaller than its significantly loud barking and dramatic spectacular manifestations have made it seem. [b]The level of support that Evo has achieved was not predicted by almost anyone, and is reminiscent of his actual 2005 election landslide,[/b] in which the most surprised person may have been Evo himself. Let us make no mistake – [b]in the great soccer match that is Bolivian politics, MAS is up a goal.[/b] The autonomists may continue to retain their bases of power, but they can no longer credibly blather on about a “corrupt dictatorship” on the national level. These are historic times, and it is time for Evo to make a move.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=]Historic Vote Confirms Will for Change[/url]


Behind the push for autonomy is the desire of large landowners and gas transnationals to shield the natural resources and agribusiness interests in the east from the government’s nationalization and land reform projects.

As the Morales government has advanced in its project to re-establish state control over natural resources — including the May 1, 2006, nationalization of Bolivia’s gas reserves — the elites located in the east have worked to build a regional pro-autonomy movement. This project aims to give the prefects legislative power over taxation, natural resources, land distribution, and trade agreements.

Not only do they hope to take decision-making power over these questions out of the hands of the central government, they aim to undermine Morales’s project and his base of support in order to pave the way for his removal, either at the ballot box or by violent means.

Facing a new draft constitution that enshrines state control over natural resources and dramatically expands the rights of indigenous people, the oligarchy is fighting tooth and nail to defend its interests against a national movement driven by the indigenous peoples....

Meanwhile, the violent campaign in the east has continued. On August 13, six youths threw 10 Molotov cocktails into the headquarters of the Centre for Legal Studies and Social Investigation (CEJIS), which provides legal advice to indigenous and peasant organizations and is the home organization of some Morales cabinet members.


Thanks, M.Spector, for these reliable and informative updates.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=]"Stalemate" as Counter-Revolution in Bolivia[/url]



Morales’s presidency is viewed by many of his supporters as an opportunity to decolonize the country and redistribute wealth. Bolivia’s majority indigenous population has historically been marginalized from the spheres of power and relegated to extreme levels of poverty in one of the most unequal countries in the region. But plans for agrarian reform, attempts to change the country’s economic model, and, not least, leadership of the government by someone from the indigenous-based social movements are all viewed as threatening to many of Bolivia’s privileged.

Lacking an alternative national political project to that of the MAS, the prefects have used the wedge issue of regional autonomy and adeptly taken advantage of several political blunders committed by the MAS to assiduously fan the flames of regionalism. They have skillfully portrayed Morales and the MAS as the embodiment of [b]the resented centralism that has historically characterized Bolivian politics and political administration.[/b]

Having lost access to political power at the national level, elites in the lowland provinces are demanding increases in departmental budgets (funding for regional governments come from the central government) and a model of regional autonomy that would increase their control of land use and natural resource extraction, as well as limit the reach of the national government. [b]If successful, these proposals would dramatically weaken the Morales government’s ability to carry out its political agenda.[/b]

The incompatibility of the national and regional agendas and the pattern over these last couple of years of political intransigence, outright hostility, and even the use of violence and intimidation, bodes ill for a process of national dialogue and compromise. While Morales and four of the five opposition prefects (the exception was Rubйn Costas, the hard-line prefect of Santa Cruz) all acknowledged the need for dialogue immediately after the referendum, events since then indicate that [b]confrontation is likely to continue and even intensify.[/b]

M. Spector M. Spector's picture


Bolivian President Evo Morales has called a referendum for December 7[b]*[/b] to rewrite the constitution, sharpening a political struggle with rebel governors opposed to his sweeping socialist reforms.

"This is a historic day," he said late Thursday, announcing from his presidential palace in La Paz a decree setting up the plebiscite. "This is to deepen democracy."

The new referendum -- which had been widely expected since Morales won two-thirds support in an August 10 recall referendum confirming his mandate -- is "to consolidate the process of change," he said.

Regional authorities in the eastern state of Santa Cruz, an opposition bastion, immediately challenged the legality of the decree.

"We reject the policies that the government wants to impose through a decree," they said in a statement.

They stressed that the August 10 recall referendum had also solidly confirmed the mandates of several of the opposition governors ranged against Morales.

The rebel governors have already said they will not permit any such referendum to be held in their states. - [url=]AFP[/url]

For more on Bolivia's new constitution, see [url=]this thread[/url].

[b]*[/b] The date has been changed to January 25, 2009. [url= below.[/url]

[ 22 October 2008: Message edited by: M. Spector ]

M. Spector M. Spector's picture


At least eight people were killed as violent anti-government protests flared in Bolivia Thursday, creating havoc in the natural gas industry and raising tensions with the United States.

Opposition activists shot dead seven peasant farmers in the remote Amazon region of Pando, a government official said, describing the incident as a massacre. An employee of the opposition-led regional government was also killed.

"We're talking about a real massacre and the person responsible is the Pando governor," said Deputy Minister of Social Movements Sacha Llorenti.

President Evo Morales' leftist government blames the unrest on rightist governors who control four of the poor country's nine regions.

The opposition demands greater autonomy and energy revenue and opposes plans by Morales, a former coca farmer and Bolivia's first indigenous president, to rewrite the constitution and distribute land to the poor.

Washington ordered out the Bolivian ambassador Thursday a day after Morales, a close ally of Venezuela's fiery leftist leader Hugo Chavez, [b]expelled U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg.

Morales accused Goldberg of fanning the protests.[/b] – [url=

ETA: And who is Ambassador Goldberg?


He presented his credentials before President Evo Morales on October 13, 2006; but three months before his arrival in Bolivia, when he was still in Pristina fulfilling his role as head of the US mission in Kosovo, it was already being said that the new US ambassador designated by George Bush for this Andean country, Philip Goldberg, would come to take part in the separatist process that was being cultivated in the background to pierce the Bolivian regime. - [url=]Source[/url]

[ 14 September 2008: Message edited by: M. Spector ]

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=]Morales declares state of emergency in Pando[/url]

Bolivia's President Evo Morales ordered emergency measures in one of five states where unrest against his rule has flared into violence, as the crisis engulfing his nation pulled in other Latin American countries and even the United States.

Morales issued the decree Friday that put soldiers and police in charge of the northeastern state of Pando after youths in the territory ransacked government offices Friday, and following the deaths there of eight pro-government demonstrators on Thursday.

Defense Minister Walker San Miguel announced the order, saying bars would close early, the carrying of firearms or explosives was prohibited, and demonstrations were outlawed without police permission. He added that several Peruvians were suspected to be among those who opened fire on some of the eight victims from Thursday.

Bolivian television reported that troops had taken control of the airport of Cojiba, in Pando.

The decree heightened tensions in Bolivia, which has been wracked by four days of violent clashes between pro- and anti-government militants.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=]"We have always cried 'fatherland or death'. If we don't emerge victorious, we have to die for the country and the Bolivian people." - Morales[/url]

M. Spector M. Spector's picture


On Thursday, September 11, 9 people were killed and 50 were injured in clashes in the department of Pando. A group of peasants was travelling to Cobija, the department capital, to attend a mass meeting called to organise the resistance against the right wing offensive. They were intercepted by a group of employees of the regional prefect, travelling in a car belonging to the road maintenance service, and armed with assault rifles. As a result of the subsequent clashes, 9 people died. This is the highest death toll in the recent violence so far.

Meanwhile, in Santa Cruz, armed gangs of the fascist Union Juvenil Cruceсista (UJC) attempted for the second night to take over the main public squares in the 300,000-strong working class neighbourhood of Plan 3000. Throughout the night there were running battles, but the UJC was repelled by the people of Plan 3000. Comrades present report that although the people in the neighbourhood heavily outnumber the UJC thugs, the problem is that the UJC are heavily armed with tear gas grenades, bullet proof vests, assault rifles, machine guns, pistols, etc.

We have also received reports from Santa Cruz that local MAS leaders dissuaded the workers and peasants of San Julian (the department's second largest city and a stronghold of the MAS) from marching to the capital Santa Cruz to counter the fascist gangs. The argument was that "we should not fall for provocations", "what the prefects want is for people to die so they can have their martyrs", etc.

[url=][/url] published a full report of all the public buildings taken over by paramilitary forces in the last few days:

• In Santa Cruz, the offices of the Agrarian Reform Institute, telecommunications company Entel, Tax Revenue, Graco, Caja Nacional de Salud, the state oil company Yacimientos, Terminal Bimodal, Education Department, Labour Directorate, Forestry Commission, Almacenes Bolivianos, Migration Office and the Import Duty.

• In Cobija also Import Duty, Agrarian Reform, Roads, Forrestry and the airport

• In Beni the airport, AASANA, post office Ecobol, Entel, Migration and other airports

• In Tarija, Digecco, Agrarian Reform, Tax Office, Hydrocarbons, Migration and Import Duty.

• In Sucre, Entel and Tax Office

• In most of the cases, police and army units that were protecting these building were overrun by the violent gangs of fascists, because they were under strict orders not to shoot and not to use violence to protect them.

[url=]Jorge Martin[/url]

[url=]Eyewitness report to fascist violence[/url]

[ 14 September 2008: Message edited by: M. Spector ]

M. Spector M. Spector's picture


Soldiers sent to Pando's main city of Cobija were hunting the state governor to arrest him for publicly rejecting the imposition of martial law Morales ordered on the territory.

The government has accused the governor, Leopoldo Fernandez, of being responsible for the "massacre" of 16 people -- mostly rural workers supporting Morales -- whose bodies were discovered in past days. Another two people, a soldier and a civilian, died Friday when 100 troops were flown in to seize back control of Cobija airport from protesters. - [url=]AFP[/url]


[url= Paramilitary Death Squadrons Kill Men, Women and Children[/url]


Roberto Tito, one of the rural workers who was on this bridge when the shooting against the defenseless people began, testified that they were marching unarmed, and soon they heard shots and people began falling, mortally wounded.

Snipers located in the treetops fired at the group without caring who they hit: children, women, and old people were amongst the farmers, whose only weapons were sticks and machetes

[b][i]"We were unarmed, contrary to what they say. They stopped us seven kilometers from Porvenir and then they attacked us, when we advanced to the height of the bridge they ambushed us and started shooting with machine guns,"[/i][/b] said Tito, heartbroken over the death of at least ten of his comrades, as on Friday an unknown number of people were still reported as disappeared

They are fascists [i]and[/i] terrorists.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=]Fascist governor Leopoldo Fernбndez has been arrested.[/url]

[url=бndez faces a possible 30-year prison term.[/url]

[url= is what a coward and a murderer looks like[/url]

[ 16 September 2008: Message edited by: M. Spector ]

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

[url= crisis worsens as emergency summit is held[/url]


The ongoing conflict in Bolivia saw at least 30 people killed on the weekend, as the opposition clashed with government forces. The opposition headed by wealthy landowners have vowed to make Bolivia ungovernable. Martial law was declared on Saturday in the province of Pando. Vice President Alvaro Garcia held meetings with the opposition in La Paz, whilst President Morales is attending an emergency UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) summit in Chile.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture


Bolivian President Evo Morales and opposition leaders agreed Tuesday to formal negotiations to defuse a crisis that has threatened to split the country in half and led to more than 15 deaths.

The two sides will meet Thursday to discuss issues that include greater distribution of revenue, which dissidents want, and a proposed constitution that the government seeks to put in place. The agreement was signed by Morales and two influential opposition governors, Mario Cossнo and Rubйn Costas, from relatively prosperous eastern states. - [url= Post[/url]

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=]Canadian Labour Congress open letter to David Emerson[/url]


Minister Emerson, we strongly encourage you to make clear to the international community that Canada, like other nations in the Americas will not recognize any authority in Bolivia other than the democratically-elected government of President Evo Morales and will not tolerate outside interference supporting secessionist factions in that beleaguered country. President Morales was democratically elected in 2005 and the Bolivian people again endorsed his leadership in a recent "recall referendum" which he won by a large majority of 67%.....

Minister Emerson, Canada must support the Bolivian people's right to be governed by a democratically-elected government. Canadamust offer support to the government of President Morales, directly and through the Organization of American States to promote a dialogue and keep open legal and democratic channels for resolving differences and conflict. We cannot allow our hemisphere to succumb to past practices of military intervention and return to the dark days when the Pinochets of this world were in power.

ceti ceti's picture


as the opposition clashed with government forces.

Ah, actually it was a massacre by opposition goons of indigenous farmers.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture


Administratively organized similar to France, Bolivia is divided into nine departments, each run by a prefect, while civic committees are made up of a handful of unelected, local, commercial-landed elites who preside over one of the most unequal distributions of land and wealth in the world. These public- and private-sector authorities, in turn, are allied with cypto-fascist paramilitary youth gangs armed with baseball bats, clubs, chains, guns, and in the case of the massacre at El Porvenir, official vehicles. These groups have made Bolivia’s eastern lowlands ungovernable for the Morales administration.

It may be helpful for U.S. readers to consider Bolivia’s eastern lowlands as analogous to Dixie. In the 1950s and 60s, working with governors and mayors of states and localities, white supremacist paramilitary groups terrorized African Americans. The campaign of terror was intended to preserve a status quo that benefited a tiny class of wealthy white landowners, against which the federal government — under Eisenhower and Kennedy — hesitated to act.

[b]Imagine, though, that African Americans had comprised an overwhelming majority of the U.S. population, that Kennedy was Black, and that he had come to power on the back of serial insurrections led by African Americans. Imagine that, in response, white supremacists not only massacred Blacks, but also blockaded roads, blew up oil pipelines, and burned and looted federal government offices and installations.[/b]

[url=]Forrest Hylton[/url]

M. Spector M. Spector's picture


Who in Bolivia is receiving millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars? That is what many Latin America policy analysts in Washington want to know.

"Washington has decided to keep its ties to Bolivia's opposition shrouded in secrecy," said Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research, an independent think tank....

"The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is doing in Bolivia what it was doing in Venezuela...aiding the opposition," said independent researcher and writer Jeremy Bigwood, who specialises in Latin American affairs.

For example, a July 2002 declassified message from the U.S. embassy in Bolivia to Washington said, "A planned USAID political party reform project aims at implementing an existing Bolivian law that would...over the long run, help build moderate, pro-democracy political parties that can serve as a counterweight to the radical MAS [party of now President Evo Morales] or its successors."

Bigwood has made several attempts to obtain detailed information about the nature of current U.S. spending in Bolivia, without success. He says he has filed five separate petitions under the Freedom of Information Act since 2005.

However, one FOIA request he filed revealed that the quasi-governmental National Endowment for Democracy had funded programmes that brought 13 young "emerging leaders" from Bolivia to Washington between 2002 and 2004 to strengthen their right-wing political parties.

"It's not just the USAID but also other U.S. government entities that are putting money into opposition groups in Bolivia," Bigwood told IPS, charging that a major part of the funding is apparently aimed at "bribing people" in that country.

[url=]Inter Press Service[/url]

M. Spector M. Spector's picture


The history of U.S. intervention in support for rightist elements in Bolivia is long. The United States was the major foreign backer of the dictatorial regime of [b]Renй Barrientos[/b], who seized power in a 1964 military coup. The CIA and U.S. Special Forces played a key role in suppressing a leftist peasant uprising that followed, including the 1967 murder of Ernesto "Che" Guevara, a key leader in the movement.

When leftist army officer [b]Juan Josй Torres[/b] came to power in October of 1970, the Nixon administration called for his ouster. When an attempted coup by rightist general [b]Hugo Bбnzer Suбrez[/b] was threatened by a breakdown in the plotters' radio communications, the U.S. Air Force made their radio communications available to them. Though this first attempted takeover was crushed, Bбnzer was able to seize power by August of the following year in a bloody uprising, also with apparent U.S. support. Thousands of suspected leftists were executed in subsequent years.

The United States largely supported Bбnzer and subsequent dictators in the face of a series of protests, general strikes and other largely nonviolent pro-democracy uprisings, which eventually led to the end of military rule by 1982 and the coming to office of the left-leaning president [b]Hernбn Siles Zuazo[/b]. The United States refused to resume economic aid, however, until the government enacted strict neoliberal austerity measures.

A series of center-left and rightist civilian governments ruled the country over the next 20 years, most of which were corrupt and inept and none of which could come close to meeting the basic needs ordinary Bolivians, who — with the exception of the Haitians — are the poorest in the Western hemisphere. Despite the restoration of democracy, the strict austerity programs pushed by the United States and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) resulted in the Bolivian people, more than two-thirds of whom live in poverty, having little say in the decisions that most impacted their lives. Furthermore, even though the majority of the population is indigenous, the country's leaders continued to be white or mestizo (of mixed-race heritage).

The 2005 election of [b]Evo Morales[/b], a left-wing activist and the first indigenous leader in the nearly 500 years since the Spanish conquest, marked a major shift in Bolivia's politics. His commitment to a radical reform of the country's inequitable social and economic system has proven to be even more critical than his racial and cultural identity.

To understand Bolivian sensitivities to U.S. aid and its conditions, as well as concerns regarding U.S. intervention, it is important to look what happened to Bolivia's first leftist government, which governed back in the 1950s....

[url=]Stephen Zunes[/url]

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url= "Otto Rock" reports on Evo Morales getting his law through Congress:[/url]


Evo Morales stayed in La Paz's main square, Plaza Murillo, last night with a few of his followers. "I'm staying here with the people. Without the law (passed), nobody goes home" was his exact quote. In fact he stayed with his few followers for 18 hours overnight in the Plaza until, just recently, Congress passed the law which states the constitution goes to [b]Referendum on January 25th 2009[/b], and then Presidential elections are held in December 2009. Evo can run in those elections but if he wins his mandate definitively ends in 2014 (part of the deal cut with opposition members of congress).

You have to admire Evo's style; however much the racist fascist crap known as the medialuna rebels would like to paint him as an ignorant country bumpkin, [b]he's proven time after time that he's a highly intelligent, consummate politician that cares deeply about Bolivia, its people and its future.[/b] The last two days are pretty emblematic in fact; he joined the big march at 6am, yesterday, walked at the head of the column for nine hours and then camped out amongst his people for another 18 hours until the law was finally passed. The mutual respect between Morales and his supporters is impressive to say the very least, and many, many modern politicians of any or all political leanings would do well to study Morales' way. Total kudos from Otto to Evo.

Oh....I mentioned "a few followers stayed the night"; that "few" has been reliably counted at no less than 300,000 people who marched on La Paz yesterday and stuck around with Evo. [b]That works out as 3% of the entire population of Bolivia camped out in Plaza Murillo last night, and if you need some concept of that imagine nine million US citizens turning up to march on Washington DC in support of their President.[/b] If that doesn't impress you, nothing will.

You still think Evo is in a position of weakness and Bolivia is "on the brink" as so many English news media services would like you to believe? Think again, and stop swallowing their BS propaganda wholesale.

[ 22 October 2008: Message edited by: M. Spector ]

M. Spector M. Spector's picture


Leading up to Congress’s approval, Morales participated in sections of a march from Caracollo in Oruro to La Paz, a distance of over 100 miles and involving an estimated 100,000 union members, activists, students, farmers and miners.

The march took place to pressure opposition members in Congress into backing the constitution and referendum. When marchers arrived in La Paz they packed the center of the city to historic levels. [b]Some media outlets said the march, which stretched 15 kilometers, was the longest one ever in the capital.[/b]

"Those who have been kicked out to the chicken coop, those who have been hidden in the basement, are jailed no more," Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera said of the approval of the constitution, according to the Associated Press.

The road to this new constitution has been a long, complicated and often violent one. One key event in this process was the July 2, 2006 election of assembly members to the constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution. Later, in December of 2007, the new constitution was passed in an assembly meeting in Oruro which was boycotted by opposition members.

Given Morales’ support across the country, [b]this new constitution is expected to pass in the January 2009 referendum.[/b] "The public support expressed for [Morales] Monday, coming on top of the 67 percent vote of confidence he was given in the Aug. 10 recall referendum, make it clear that he is the most popular president in the last 26 years of democracy in Bolivia," Franz Chavez reported in IPS News.

The draft constitution includes, among other things, changes to allow the [b]redistribution of land and gas wealth to benefit the majority of the country, and give increased rights to indigenous people.[/b] Questions still exist regarding what was fully changed in this version of the constitution which led to opposition politicians supporting it. For example, it’s [b]still unclear to what extent eastern provinces will be granted autonomy.[/b]

However, in what was perhaps Morales’ biggest concession to the opposition, [b]a change was made to the constitution which prevents him from running for two additional terms[/b], as an earlier draft of the constitution allowed. Under the new changes – if the constitution is approved in the referendum – Morales will run for his last consecutive term in general elections in December of 2009.

This move indicates that the opposition got at least some of what they wanted in negotiations, and that the Movement Toward Socialism, Morales’ political party, may have plans to diversify its central leadership. - [url=]Upside Down World[/url]


Bolivians back constitution, give Indians more power


LA PAZ, Bolivia (Reuters) - Bolivian voters backed a new constitution on Sunday, allowing leftist President Evo Morales to run for re-election, give the poor indigenous majority more power and tighten his grip on the economy.

Morales is Bolivia's first Indian president and says the new constitution will improve the lives of indigenous groups who were for centuries treated as an underclass.

Exit polls and a quick count showed the charter was approved with between 55 percent and 60 percent support.

Morales has followed his closest allies, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Ecuador's Rafael Correa, in rewriting their countries' constitutions to extend their rule, tackle inequalities and exert greater control over natural resources. . .

Viva la Revolucion!