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Facing fascist attack, Morales fights back

Published Sep 21, 2008 10:11 PM

The struggle between U.S. imperialism on one side and the movement for sovereignty and self-determination for the countries of Latin America on the other reached a new stage in early September with use of paramilitary force against the popular Evo Morales government in Bolivia. This escalation has already led to more than 30 deaths, the expulsion of two U.S. ambassadors and an emergency meeting of Latin America heads of state in Chile.

Some voices warn that the civil war that had been brewing in Bolivia has now begun. Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez sounded a clarion call throughout Latin America by pointing to the intervention of U.S. imperialism and comparing the latest events to the Sept. 11, 1973, bloody overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile.

The progressive Bolivian president and his MAS (Movement for Socialism) party can use every bit of support Bolivia can get from its neighbors and from solidarity movements worldwide. Yet the current situation is far from lost. The Bolivian armed forces are not yet lined up with the counterrevolution. There is also potential that the mostly Indigenous Bolivian masses, who just voted landslide support for the Morales government in a recall referendum, will mobilize to defend the government and a unified Bolivia.

Called together by Chávez, eight of the 12 heads of state of UNASUR met in Santiago, Chile, on Sept. 15. Morales said he had come “to explain to the presidents of South America the civic coup d’etat by governors in some Bolivian states in recent days. We’ve seen looting, the ransacking of institutions, attempts to assault the police and the armed forces,” he said. (BBC, Sept. 15) Reminiscent of the oil sabotage in Venezuela in 2002 meant to disrupt the country’s main economy, gas pipelines were also vandalized, temporarily cutting the flow of gas to Brazil and Argentina.

Not only Venezuela and Ecuador, but even those states considered “moderate” like Chile and Brazil, signed the statement supporting Morales, promising to refuse cooperation with any coup regime and condemning the paramilitary violence organized by the rightwing in Bolivia.

Massacre in Pando

Pando, Santa Cruz, Beni and Tarija are the names of the four departments or states that make up Bolivia’s reactionary “Media-Luna” region—so named because the states’ combined territory looks like a half moon. This mineral- and energy-rich region is still dominated by European-origin oligarchs and backed by U.S. imperialism.

Pando’s prefect (governor) hired a gang of paramilitary criminals—some reports say from Brazil—who opened fire on a gathering of mostly Indigenous peasants on Sept. 11. As many as 30 people, all unarmed peasants, were killed near the capital city of Cobija. (BBC) This massacre was the most blatant crime in a series of attacks on buildings housing offices of the central government and popular organizations.

It is obvious why U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg, a State Department professional, was chosen for the job in Bolivia. His credentials include overseeing the divide-and-conquer strategy that used the Kosovo people of Albanian origin to help U.S. imperialism break up socialist Yugoslavia.

Thus it should be no surprise that Morales’s first step in self-defense was to declare this imperialist agent “persona non-grata” and expel him. In solidarity with Morales, Chávez expelled the U.S. ambassador from Venezuela. Even Honduras refused to recognize the credentials of a new U.S. ambassador presented there.

Note that the Republican and Democratic Party presidential candidates both made comments hostile to Morales' quite legitimate act of self-defense—expelling the key figure of an international conspiracy against his government.

The MAS government also declared a “state of siege” in Pando. The federal armed forces seized the airport at Cobija and began to patrol the streets. Pando’s prefect, Leopoldo Fernandez, was detained by the Bolivian armed forces on Tuesday morning. Earlier, Chávez had criticized Bolivia’s Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief General Luis Trigo for not acting more decisively against the fascist elements.

Counterrevolution spurs

on revolution

According to a Sept. 15 article by a leader of the Communist Party of Bolivia, Marcos Domich: “It can be heard in some military circles that the measures taken were applied quite slowly and without resolve. This was perceived immediately by the population and caused a great popular agitation.

“Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, in diverse assemblies and meetings, mainly of the departments of the Center and the West, almost in a spontaneous way have begun to discuss the organization of detachments, brigades or other formations with one object in mind: to prepare to defend Bolivia’s national integrity, democracy and sovereignty, in order to continue with the process of progressive change. The main element in this social spirit is patriotism.”

Washington then demanded that the Morales government negotiate a “compromise” with the secessionists in the Media Luna. This is after these oligarchs and fascist elements were trashed in a national referendum—Morales got over 67 percent of the vote—and began resorting to fascist-like violence. Moreover, these criminals have no popular or moral standing in Bolivia or throughout Latin America. Nevertheless, Vice-President Alvaro Garcia has begun talks with Tarija prefect Mario Cossio who represents the Media Luna oligarchy.

Along with condemnation from Latin American governments, the attack on Morales and the MAS has awakened popular outrage. In Argentina, some 10,000 people, many of them Bolivian immigrants, marched on Sept. 12 on the U.S. Embassy in the Palermo section of Buenos Aires to back Morales, denounce the coup attempt and insist that the U.S. not intervene in Bolivia.

From the U.S. solidarity movement, a Sept. 14 International Action Center statement supported Morales and the MAS government. It reads in part: “We support Bolivia’s declaration of the U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg as a persona non grata, and we protest U.S. involvement in Bolivia and its efforts to undermine and subvert the process of change in Bolivia that will benefit the sectors of its population that have been most oppressed, the Indigenous and Afro-Bolivian peoples.

“We support Bolivia’s demand that...the U.S. stop its aid to the racist and neo-fascist secessionist movement of the eastern departments that are rich in resources that all Bolivian people own and should benefit from.” (www.iacenter.org)