Bolivian president Evo Morales and opposition governors held talks on Thursday in attempt to defuse the country’s growing political crisis. The autonomists oppose any equitable redistribution of land and natural resources, and are demanding Morales cancel a referendum on a new constitution that would give Bolivia’s indigenous majority more power, and allow him to run for a second term. Over the last few days at least 30 people have been killed.
Bolivian President Evo Morales stated that he was expelling US ambassador Philip Goldberg for allegedly inciting violent opposition protests. The Bolivian leader did not offer specific evidence against Goldberg, but he has long accused the diplomat of conspiring with Bolivia’s conservative opposition. Meanwhile anti-Morales protests reached a crescendo this week ,with the sacking and burning of government offices in Santa Cruz . Morales’ opponents in the east are seeking a greater share of revenues from natural gas, as well as regional autonomy.
As the tensions between the Morales Government of Bolivia and autonomists continue, Forrest Hylton states that "the basic issue comes down to who is going to get the money from the exploitation of hydrocarbon resources, and these autonomists want to make sure that they get the money, and they’re going to carry out their completely illegal agenda, regardless of whether Evo wants to dialog with them or not."
The Real News Network Analyst Pepe Escobar pursues his discussion with historian Forrest Hylton. They examine the possibility of a South American union and Obama’s stance to current trends in Latin American politics.
The United States first lost its influence in Latin America because of deals it made during the Cold War to prop up any dictatorship as long as it was anti-communist. Even Bill Clinton with his "free-trade" and drug eradication projects was not open to South American autonomy from Washington.
Hylton says that the leadership of the Bolivian state of Santa Cruz wants to create a system of "autonomy" that amounts to secession. They oppose Morales’ reforms and overtly call for the ‘leadership’ of light skinned people over the indigenous peoples.
Bolivia’s landowning eastern elite voted on Sunday for autonomy from President Evo Morales’ central government. According to author Forrest Hylton the US government has spent up to $125 million dollars supporting the secession movement, a movement which has been disregarded by a large percentage of the Bolivian population as well as governments from Bolivia’s neighboring countries.
Bolivia’s largest state Santa Cruz, voted on Sunday on an autonomy measure that would keep most of the state’s key natural gas revenues in their hands and would shelter the state’s vast soy plantations and cattle ranches from President Evo Morales’ plan to redistribute land to the poor. The referendum had been declared illegal and unconstitutional by Bolivia’s National Electoral Court, but as polls closed exit surveys conducted by local news media sympathetic to autonomy, showed as much as 85 percent support. The abstention rate was reported to be as high as 45%, up to 3 times higher than normal in Bolivia. This is attributed to the fact that anyone against autonomy or who believed that the vote was unconstitutional would likely have boycotted the polls. There were violent protests against the vote in the poor Santa Cruz neighborhood of Plan 3000–a bastion of support for Morales populated by Indian immigrants from the poorer western highlands. The protesters not only boycotted the polls but also burned ballot boxes.
The Real News Network Analyst Pepe Escobar says the autonomy referendum in the rich lowland province of Santa Cruz on Sunday is unconstitutional. Escobar says "it’s a dagger in the heart of South American integration. It is a classic battle between a rich white minority and a poor indigenous majority, and its not surprising which side the US government is on."
Bolivian President Evo Morales outlined a plan at the UN on Tuesday to rescue the world from environmental degradation and injustice. Drawing connections between free-market economics, excessive consumption, environmental problems and social injustice, the Bolivian leader urged the world to “put an end to the exploitation of human beings and the pillage of natural resources” by rejecting free-market theory and reallocating the money spent on war to fighting environmental and climate problems.
Pepe Escobar: Latin American leaders bypass US and find solutions to internal conflict
Raw News: Report on raucous session of national assembly as referendum legislation passes
Bolivian ministers meet US ambassador and reach agreement
From his recent trip, Pepe Escobar on La Paz: Showdown between Morales and the elite state governors
US embassy official in Bolivia recalled to Washington after asking student to spy on foreign nationals
Pepe Escobar reports on his recent trip to "the most important social revolution in the world"