Skip to main content

Dec 18, 2005 -- LA PAZ, Bolivia (Reuters) - Jorge Quiroga, who exit polls showed running second in Bolivia's presidential race, conceded on Sunday, clearing the way for Evo Morales to become the country's first indigenous leader.
"I congratulate the candidates of MAS that have carried out a good campaign," he said, referring to Morales' Movement Toward Socialism party.
Media tabulations of official results showed Morales with close to 50 percent of the vote and Quiroga with between 31 percent and 34 percent.

To find out what this has to do with bird shit and why Bush already has troops in place at a new airbase 200 miles from the border for a new Bolivian war of intervention, please go below the fold.

Bolivia's history has been one of domination and exploitation by foreign powers. The population consists primarily of Amerindians who have been fighting for real democracy since colonial times. To understand the significance of a Native American being freely elected as president it helps to know a little history.

Bolivia lost her coastline in a war over bird shit. Also called the War of the Pacific, it took place from 1879 to 1884. It was fought between Chile and Bolivia over deposits of guano and saltpeter that were being exploited by British interests.

A most interesting story about how this war started involves the British ambassador to Bolivia making the mistake of disdainfully declining a cup of Bolivian beer at an official function. Bolivian officials were so offended by his condescending attitude that they dragged him through the streets of La Paz tied across the back of a donkey, then forced him to drink a whole barrel of the brew. This is said to have enraged Queen Victoria and to have led to the instigation of the Bird Shit War.

I don't know how much of the above is fact, but the war was very real, as was the loss of Bolivia's only access to the sea and the guano and saltpeter deposits. British officers fought on the Chilean side while Germany and the US egged on the Bolivians.

The War of the Pacific is but one example of how foreign powers have long treated Bolivia and exploited its resources.

Another example is the Bolivian tin mines run by local tin barons on behalf of US corporations. Thousands of miners to died due to a combination of inhumane working conditions and starvation wages.  This is what brought Che Guevara to Bolivia and cost him his life.

Yet another example of exploitation was the privatization of water (from Wikipedia):

In September 2001, following the advice of the World Bank, the Bolivian government declared that all water was to become corporate property, so that even drawing water from community wells or gathering rainwater on their own properties, peasants and urban dwellers had to first purchase and obtain permits from International Water Limited (a multinational largely owned by the Bechtel Corporation). The government, however, retracted and abolished the new water privatization rules following wide-scales uprisings and riots in protest of the legislation.

Bolivian's believe the huge deposits of natural gas under their country, an estimated 1.5 trillion cubic meters worth over 1.2 billion USD was also taken from them. To exploit the reserves, a consortium called Pacific LNG was formed by the British companies BG Group and BP, and Spain's Repsol YPF. The agreement with the consortium gave Bolivia only 18% of the future profits from the exportation of the gas. This and a host of other issues led to two recent periods of intense civil insurrection. Many among Bolivia's poor would like to see the gas and related infrastructure nationalized and the profit used to benefit all citizens, two thirds of whom live in poverty.

As if that were not enough, the US backed coca eradication program took away one of the only crops available to many Andean farmers. So it is no surprise that "Long live coca! Yankee go home!" is the "war cry" of the Aymaras and Quechuas, original nations of the Andes and strong constituents of Evo Morales an an Aymara Indian himself.

A BBC story about the elections in Bolivia is titled "Bolivia candidate 'US nightmare'". Indeed, Morales wants to legalize Coca growing, and is an ideological ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. "I am not a drug trafficker," he once said. "I am a coca grower. I cultivate coca leaf, which is a natural product. I do not refine [it into] cocaine, and neither cocaine nor drugs have ever been part of the Andean culture."

He seeks national control over Bolivia's huge gas reserves to bring the benefits of the nation's hydrocarbons to the people. He is also a fierce critic of the US, and he will become the country's first indigenous head of state. Most feel he will undermine US influence in the region.

"The hour has arrived when we liberate ourselves completely. I feel a wave of uprising and rebellion all around Latin America and a growing courage to stop our subjugation at the hands of the North American empire.", Evo Morales said.

There is more at stake here than just the presidency of one small South American country. This is part of a shift to the left by much of Latin America. And some think Bush will go to war to prevent its spread, and they have pretty good evidence.  The map below shows the situation. This is a great interactive map and it worth going to the original BBC page to click on the links.

ManfromMiddletown recently posted a diary that did not get enough attention. It laid out why this could lead to American intervention. For more background and reason to worry about another Bolivian war, please read ManfromMiddletown's diary. I'm adding a little of what I've found below. Remember that the US has sent troops to interfere in Latin America 87 times.

This is by Benjamin Dangl from Canada's The Dominion:

Controversy is raging in Paraguay, where the US military is conducting secretive operations. 500 US troops arrived in the country on July 1st with planes, weapons and ammunition. Eyewitness reports prove that an airbase exists in Mariscal Estigarribia, Paraguay, which is 200 kilometers from the border with Bolivia and may be utilized by the US military. Officials in Paraguay claim the military operations are routine humanitarian efforts and deny that any plans are underway for a US base. Yet human rights gropsin the area are deeply worried.

White House officials are using rhetoric about terrorist threats in the tri-border region (where Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina meet) in order to build their case for military operations, in many ways reminiscent to the build up to the invasion of Iraq. [1]

The tri-border area is home to the Guarani Aquifer, one of the world's largest reserves of water. Near the Estigarribia airbase are Bolivia's natural gas reserves, the second largest in Latin America. Political analysts believe US operations in Paraguay are part of a preventative war to control these natural resources and suppress social uprisings in Bolivia.

Argentine Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel commented on the situation in Paraguay, "Once the United States arrives, it takes it a long time to leave. And that really frightens me." [2]

The Estigarribia airbase was constructed in the 1980s for US technicians hired by the Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner, and is capable of housing 16,000 troops. A journalist writing for the Argentine newspaper Clarin, recently visited the base and reported it to be in perfect condition, capable of handling large military planes. It's oversized for the Paraguayan air force, which only has a handful of small aircraft. The base has an enormous radar system, huge hangars and an air traffic control tower. The airstrip itself is larger than the one at the international airport in Asuncion, the Paraguayan capital. Near the base is a military camp which has recently grown in size. [3] -snip-

The proximity of the Estigarribia base to Bolivian natural gas reserves, and the fact that the military operations coincide with a presidential election in Bolivia, has also been a cause for concern. The election is scheduled to take place on Dec. 4, 2005. Bolivian Workers Union leader Jaime Solares and Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) legislator Antonio Peredo, have warned of US plans for a military coup to frustrate the elections. Solares said the US Embassy backs right wing ex-president Jorge Quiroga in his bid for office, and will go as far as necessary to prevent any other candidate's victory.

And here are some details from Helis.com


·  The Estigarribia airbase  was constructed in the 1980s for US technicians hired by the Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner, and is capable of housing 16,000 troops

·  The base has an enormous radar system, huge hangars and an air traffic control tower. The airstrip itself is larger than the one at the international airport in Asuncion, the Paraguayan capital. It's oversized for the Paraguayan air force, which only has a handful of small aircrafts

·  Pope John Paul II was there in May 1988 when he visited the town of Santa Teresita, 3 kilometers away

·  Estigarribia has a population of about 2000, which 300 belongs to the 6th Infantry Division, 3rd Corps, paraguayan army garrison

·  On a May 2005 agreement, Paraguay allows United States to use the base

The location is 22 deg 2 mins S    /    60 deg 37 mins W

This is from Foreign Policy In Focus:

Some 500 special forces arrived July 1 for a three-month counterterrorism training exercise, code named Operation Commando Force 6.  

Paraguayan denials that Mariscal Estigarribia is now a U.S. base have met with considerable skepticism by Brazil and Argentina . There is a disturbing resemblance between U.S. denials about Mariscal Estigarribia, and similar disclaimers made by the Pentagon about Eloy Alfaro airbase in Manta , Ecuador . The United States claimed the Manta base was a "dirt strip" used for weather surveillance. When local journalists revealed its size, however, the United States admitted the base harbored thousands of mercenaries and hundreds of U.S. troops, and Washington had signed a 10-year basing agreement with Ecuador .

The Eloy Alfaro base is used to rotate U.S. troops in and out of Columbia, and to house an immense network of private corporations who do most of the military's dirty work in Columbia. According to the Miami Herald , U.S. mercenaries armed with M-16s have gotten into fire fights with guerrillas in southern Columbia, and American civilians working for Air Scan International of Florida called in air strikes that killed 19 civilians and wounded 25 others in the town of Santo Domingo.

The base is crawling with U.S. civilians--many of them retired military--working for Military Professional Resources Inc., Virginia Electronics, DynCorp, Lockheed Martin (the world's largest arms maker), Northrop Grumman, TRW, and dozens of others.

It was U.S. intelligence agents working out of Manta who fingered Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia leader Ricardo Palmera last year, and several leaders of the U.S.-supported coup against Haitian President Bertram Aristide spent several months there before launching the 2004 coup that exiled Aristide to South Africa.

"Privatizing" war is not only the logical extension of the Bush administration's mania for contracting everything out to the private sector; it also shields the White House's activities from the U.S. Congress. "My complaint about the use of private contractors," says U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsy (D-IL), "is their ability to fly under the radar to avoid accountability."


And just to put things in focus:
For the Bush administration, however, Bolivia is all about subversion, not poverty and powerlessness.

When U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited Paraguay this past August, he told reporters that, "There certainly is evidence that both Cuba and Venezuela have been involved in the situation in Bolivia in unhelpful ways."

A Rumsfeld aide told the press that Cuba was involved in the unrest, a charge that even one of Bolivia's ousted presidents, Carlos Mesa, denies.

A major focus of the unrest in Bolivia is who controls its vast natural gas deposits, the second largest in the Western Hemisphere. Under pressure from the United States and the IMF, Bolivia sold off its oil and gas to Enron and Shell in 1995 for $263.5 million, less than 1% of what the deposits are worth.

Will Morales’ election finally bring democracy and freedom to Bolivians? Or will this election bring Bush’s new war and the 88th instance of US interference? If it is, we should call this one the Chicken-Hawk War.

Originally posted to Chris Kulczycki on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 03:22 AM PST.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar. (4.00)
    Front paged on European Tribune

    Also cross posted on My Left Wing and Booman Tribune.

    Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
    You can kill one, but another is born.
    The words are written down, the deed, the date.

    Czeslaw Milosz

    by Chris Kulczycki on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 03:22:00 AM PST

    •  From the Financial Times: (4.00)
      Support for the leftwing leader greatly exceeded expectations. With 75 per cent of the votes counted, Mr Morales looked to be closing in on the 50 per cent plus one vote majority needed for victory in the first round. Jorge Quiroga, the conservative former president who was his closest rival, trailed by at least 18 percentage points.
      "The next government will have the greatest legitimacy of any administration since the return to democracy in 1982," said Eduardo Gamarra of Florida International University. In the past 25 years no candidate has ever won a presidential election in the first round.

      If Mr Morales fails to win an absolute majority, the newly elected Congress will vote in January to choose the president from the top two candidates.

      The Movement to Socialism, Mr Morales's party, is unlikely to have a majority of the seats in the legislature. However, both Mr Quiroga and Samuel Doria Medina, the third-placed candidate, have said that the candidate who comes first should become president. Congress will convene on January 17, with the new president being inaugurated five days later.

      Support for Mr Morales reached 61 per cent in La Paz, the capital, and 64 per cent in Cochabamba, his political base, according to early results. Even in Santa Cruz, the wealthy conservative department that has been pressing for autonomy, his share of the vote was as high as 32 per cent.

      Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
      You can kill one, but another is born.
      The words are written down, the deed, the date.

      Czeslaw Milosz

      by Chris Kulczycki on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 03:50:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  MORALES WINS! MORALES WINS! (4.00)
        Sorry, but this is a great day for Latin America. The domino has tipped, look for Mexico to follow suit in July. Latin America can finally use its resources for something crazy, to better themselves!

        So how does it fell America, knowing that Latin America is now more progressive?

        "It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government." -- Thomas Paine

        by pinche tejano on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 11:45:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ouch, Pinche! (4.00)
          You're just trying to make us all feel worse.  Of course Latin America now looks substantially more progressive than the US - - what's the contest?

          Stop the politicization of crime!

          by tom 47 on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 11:49:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Considering the USA's fine history of LA (4.00)
            intervention, it is a testament that truth and justice shall overcome in the end not matter what is thrown at the people.

            You should parlay this to the 2006 elections in the USA, that there is always hope.

            The contest is that no matter how bad the Monroe Doctrine had 'those brown people' down, at the end of the day they were able to rise back up.

            And check the population tide map, the USA will be majority Latin American in 20 years, so we will bring democracy back to the cradle.

            So let's make that the contest: Who will bring true democracy back to the USA quicker, Latin Americans or WASPs?

            I hope you win.

            "It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government." -- Thomas Paine

            by pinche tejano on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 12:10:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  It feels fantastic!!! (none)
          Viva Morales!, Viva Bolivia!  Viva los Indios, que viva!
    •  compliments (4.00)
      on an excellently written diary on a subject i knew nothing about.

      When the US and IMF coerce Bolivia to sell its resources for 1% of what their worth, is it any wonder that there's an anti-U.S. sentiment?

    •  God (none)
      I really hope the surprise press conference coming up soon has nothing to do with this.
  •  Let us hope that (4.00)
    these burgeoning democracies can form a united front, a South American alliance, to thwart the real threat to democracy and freedom.  
    •  And let us be thankful that (4.00)
      Bush has a lot to worry about here in the US. He may not be politically strong enough for another foreign adventure.

      Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
      You can kill one, but another is born.
      The words are written down, the deed, the date.

      Czeslaw Milosz

      by Chris Kulczycki on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 03:59:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's Cheaper.... (4.00)
        .....and simpler to fund right wing paramilitary operations.

        That's Western Hemisphere for "state-sponsored terrorism."

        •  We've seen that game tape (none)
          We will not be fooled again.

          "It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government." -- Thomas Paine

          by pinche tejano on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 11:47:07 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh, we've seen it all right. (none)
            Doesn't mean it wouldn't happen again.  Why has Rummy taken such a personal interest?!  Where else does he go, except where he takes such a keen intense interest in the outcome?  What other countries has he been to?   Iraq, Afghanistan, and I think Brazil-Panama-Paraguay on last August's trip.  Rummy's got a stake in this one - - oil/gas, water, drugs, arms, etc.  smells, looks, tastes, has tall the apearance of his touch.  Ugh!

            Stop the politicization of crime!

            by tom 47 on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 11:53:51 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  It's Still Happening in Colombia.... (none)
            ....we never stopped falling for it.

            It's like a floating craps game. Whenever it gets busted up one place, it just moves to another back-alley until the heat shows up there.

            •  Troops in Columbia really there for Oil pipelines (none)
              not drugs. Do a little digging, but it might only make you angry.

              "It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government." -- Thomas Paine

              by pinche tejano on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 12:06:28 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Make Me Angry? (none)
                Hell, I already AM angry.

                There's oil, there's drugs, there's cattle.

                There's also the "one of the few remaining friendly countries in the region" thing.

                Oil has real value, you're right.

                But never underestimate the right's obsessive fixation on funding death squad activity and the willingness of "moderate" Democrats to go along as long as an excuse like the "war on drugs" is invoked.

      •  Just remind him how things went (4.00)
        for Butch and Sundance down there.

        So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity - Annie Dillard

        by illinifan17 on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 06:06:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  What a wonderful (none)
      Christmas present that would be to the rest of the world!
  •  coca: excuse for war.... (4.00)

    Legalizing the growing of coca could become an excuse for the US to invade.  Morales would be branded a "narco-terrorist" and the propaganda machine would attempt to drum up news of a new US cocaine epidemic, and that would be the rationale for the war.  Self-defense against narco-terrorism.

    The present news reports on Morales quote him as saying that the native peoples of Bolivia have a long history using coca in its natural form.  We should also understand that in its natural form it is reported to be about as strong as coffee and can be used with no more consequences than occur to coffee drinkers.  It also has appetite suppressant effects and analgesic effects, hence its historic reputation as a plant that helped the native peoples overcome pain and lack of food.  

    For more on this see Andrew Weil, The Natural Mind.  Weil makes the point that a number of substances that are serious health problems in refined form are basically harmless in their naturally occurring form (i.e. where the quantity of active ingredients is comparatively small).  It would also be helpful if Weil spoke up about this issue, since he is well respected as a medical author.  

    Morales needs to back up his legalization of natural coca with strong legislation and penalties for refining coca into cocaine and for exporting the leaves from the country without specific permits (e.g. for medical export by pharmaceutical companies etc.).  If he takes a strong stand against refined cocaine, including well-publicized trials of cocaine producers, he could counteract the likely propaganda and reduce the risk of getting invaded.

    And in case anyone here doesn't know, coca leaf extract was a key ingredient in the original Coca Cola.

    •  I've read that he says he will impose stiff (none)
      penalties for refining coca.

      Great comment, by the way. I doubt that most North Americans know what coca really is.

      Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
      You can kill one, but another is born.
      The words are written down, the deed, the date.

      Czeslaw Milosz

      by Chris Kulczycki on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 05:56:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Can I snark? (4.00)
        "I doubt that most North Americans know what coca really is."

        Alas, most Americans don't know where they live within the state they live, much less knowing or caring a thing about coca, oil, voting rights, democracy, etc.

        Sad, the level of total isolation from knowledge in the mass of people here. So much information available, but no desire to learn it much less access it.

        OOOOOMMMMM . . . . .

        by MarkosNYC on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 06:08:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Americans watch TV (none)
          and they know when their favorite programs are on, how much more can you expect them to cram into their empty minds?  Now they have a precursor to the Fahrenheit 451 style "bees" or "seashells" in their ears with the ipods, and soon they'll have flat screen TVs on every wall- time to call out the Firemen to burn all the books!

          Fahrenheit 451, still a good read and Bradbury absolutely rips the Bushite scum type people in his comment section at the end.  His comments on Moulin Rouge are LOL.

          •  Mostly I agree with you. (none)
            But don't underestimate the white earphone generation. There are some amazing protest musicians out there right now, not to mention podcasts and other audio downloads from authors such as Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, and radio such as Air America, Pacifica, etc.

            They're not all listening to Linkin Park.

            •  Time to listen, time to be in the real world (none)
              While shopping on Saturday in a packed mall in Maryland, I saw many shoppers with the ipods on, and several others with the cell-phone on the ear thing where they just talk constantly on that thing!  It totally blocks the one ear, and reminds me exactly of Fahrenheit 451, I had forgotten the "seashells" in the ear part of F-451 until I recently re-read it.

              I have nothing against the musicians, but it just seems bizarre to me for people to spend their lives with earphones inserted.  I've seen many people walking in the country with their earphones in place.  So they miss the bird calls and other animals, plus when they go to cross a road they could be run over.  

              Howard Zinn is great, did you read the follow-up to "A people's history", "Voices of People's history of the US"?  It was also quite interesting, I wish we could get some more activists like Mr. Zinn to take on the evil Bushites.  They are much worse than Nixon and REagan, Bush 2 combines the worst of three presidents:  Hoover, Reagan, and Nixon.

        •  Without coca products (4.00)
          Americans would have absolutely no idea what the metric system is.

          To claim secular societies are rejecting God, is to concede that religious societies are rejecting reality.

          by Kudos on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 09:05:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Half of Coca-Cola? n/t (none)

        "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

        by Alice in Florida on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 07:06:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's for mate de coca (among other things) (none)
        a wonderful tea
    •  Other than to avoid trouble with the US (4.00)
      Why should he spend any of his countries scarce resources fighting cocaine trafficking?

      The only reason I can think of is to avoid the kind of corruption that illicit drug money from the USA  likely brings to his country.

      Then again, I strongly believe that ALL drugs should be decriminalised.

    •  Further reading on Latin America/drug war: (none)
      from Al Giordano - who used to post at dKos - Narco News
    •  When I was in Bolivia in 86 (none)
      leaf coca was not only legal, it was readily available in commercially-packaged tea bags.

      If Morales does legalize it, that would simply represent a return to the fairly recent past.

    •  When I visited Cuzco, Peru... (none)
      many years ago, the first thing we did at the hotel was drink a tea made of coca leaves.  It was part of the Hotel's check-in hospitality, and was for the purpose of helping newly arrived visitors adjust to the altitude change.  

      We had just flown from Lima, Peru, at essentially sea level, to Cuzco, at an elevation of 9,800 feet in a 25 minute plane ride.  Many people became altitude sick with that much of a sudden change in elevation.  The tea of coca leaves helped this adjustment.  

      As far as I know, this tea is perfectly legal for import into the US.

  •  preventative war.... (none)
    hm hm hm.  chickenhawk indeed.
  •  Isn't a royalty of 18% fairly standard? (none)
    Isn't a royalty of 18% fairly standard for natural gas extraction?  

    I honestly don't know, but it seems to me that percentage would be typical of any royalty deal, even in the US.  If that is the case, I would not say that the natural gas is being unfairly exploited, but maybe someone can confirm a typical royalty percentage.

    This is not to say I don't agree with the article - it is interesting and points out that there is a risk here of having more run-amok militarism.  Hopefully the probability is low, because we would have knocked off Chavez in this fashion if we were going to intervene in South America in this fashion.

    -1.88, -6.62 I'm only a lib'rul in Oklahoma.

    by Prof Dave on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 06:03:15 AM PST

    •  You may be correct (none)
      But I think the point here is that the Bolivians no longer actually own the rights to the gas, and despite a possibly fair royalty payment, they lost power over their indigenous resource by the hand of upper class US sympathizing presidents and legislatures. The people want control of their resources back!

      OOOOOMMMMM . . . . .

      by MarkosNYC on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 06:12:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do they have the ability to exploit it? (none)
        I know little about Bolivia so I don't know the answer to this - but it's something to keep in mind. Not all of the foreign investement in LatAm is just the US imperialism taking advantage of others.

        Sure, one can never discard that (especially given past experiences) - I do have to say that I read "Enron" and I cringe .

    •  lowish (4.00)
      Chavez moved it to 30% for light and heavy crude, 16% for extra heavy.

      More important is where that royalty money goes.

    •  Securing Leases (4.00)
      Once a likely area has been selected, the right to drill must be secured before drilling can begin. Securing the right to drill usually involves leasing the mineral rights of the desired property from the owner. The owner may be the owner of all interest in the land, or just the mineral rights. As payment for the right to drill for and extract the oil and gas, the owner will usually be paid a sum call a "lease bonus" or a "hole bonus" for every well drilled on the leased land. He will also retain a royalty on the production, if any, of the leased property. The royalty is the right to receive a certain portion of the production of property, without sharing in the costs incurred in producing the oil, such as drilling, completion, equipping and operating or production costs. The costs are borne by the holder of the right to drill and extract the mineral, which right is usually referred to as the working interest.In many cases the procurement of the lease from the land owner is accomplished by a lease broker who will, in turn, offer and then assign the lease to an operator such as Maverick Energy, Inc. Maverick Energy is very selective in choosing leases for drilling. The lease broker usually retains an overriding royalty on the working interest as compensation for his services. In the case of Maverick's leases, there generally is a retained land owner's royalty of 1/8 of all production and a 1/16 overriding royalty on the working interest, retained or granted to one or more persons who may have acted as lease brokers.

      http://www.maverickenergy.com/...

      1-Who enforces payment

      2-There is also the matter of State Taxes over and above the land owner.

      3-Is Bolivia a sovereign entity or just another land owner

    •  water (4.00)
      Bolivia came up in The Corporation as a topic.  I think the final straw for the people of Bolivia was more about charging for the water.  I don't know if the average Bolivian knows as much about or is as concerned about the gas as much as they see foreign intervention, as imposed upon them by the IMF/WTO, as an outside force inherently meant to steal from them and their country.  Irrespective of whether it's a fair deal, you can't get over being billed for collecting rain water...  

      "Never separate the words you speak from the life you live" - Paul Wellstone

      by vome minnesota on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 09:56:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this important post (none)
    I can always count on expanding my knowledge on Daily Kos.  Thank you for sharing your expertise a part of the world that may be off our radar screen considering the outrage being perpetuated in other parts of the world.
  •  have you heard of a conflict called (none)
    the chaco war? apparently a valley with disputed borders with, i believe, paraquay. bloody conflict where the two sides were sponsored by competing u.s. oil companies.

    i'm an agnostic, i'd be an atheist if it weren't for mozart

    by rasbobbo on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 06:08:45 AM PST

    •  Thanks for mentioning the Chaco War. (4.00)
      Another case of US economic imperialism. From Wikipedia:
      The Chaco War (1932-1935) was fought between Bolivia and Paraguay over control of the arid Chaco Boreal region of South America, which was incorrectly thought to be rich in oil.

      Though the region was sparsely populated, control of the Paraguay River running through it would have given one of the two landlocked countries access to the Atlantic Ocean. This was especially important to Bolivia, which had lost its Pacific Ocean coast to Chile in the War of the Pacific (1883). Furthermore, the discovery of oil in the Andean foothills sparked speculation that the Chaco itself would be a rich source of petroleum. Two large oil companies were involved in the exploration: Standard Oil (later Exxon), which backed Bolivia, while Shell Oil was on Paraguay's side.

      It's worth reading the rest of this article (link).

      Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
      You can kill one, but another is born.
      The words are written down, the deed, the date.

      Czeslaw Milosz

      by Chris Kulczycki on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 06:44:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Evo's win (none)
    One of the consequesnces of the US being bogged down in Iraq is it is not as free to impose US corporate imperialsim elsewhere. The merceneries, the money, and the equipment are stretched thin.
    •  School of the Americas (4.00)
      Which is why the US continues to train mercenaries at the SOA/WHINSEC.No need to bog down our military when their are plenty of death squads already hard at work on planning the next coup, and terrorizing "enemies of democracy."

      When you're going through hell, keep going. -- Winston Churchill

      by valleycat on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 07:59:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  funny thing is (none)
        those thugs are bogged down in Iraq as well. A recent diary talked about them being recruited in large numbers as private contractors.

        The spreading of freedom is hard work i guess.

        "As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities." Voltaire

        by Euroliberal on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 11:09:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Great Research and Great writing (none)
    However, we are on the verge of having to start a draft in order to finish the mission in Iraq and Afghanistan--much less head South.

    I think this is actually an opportunity to point out the consequences of unilateral action. When we over extend ourselves in other hemispheres without international support, it creates opportunities for foes closer to home to rise up. Now we cannot do anything about it--the threat of American force is a hollow one and our international diplomatic skills are laughable at the present time.

  •  Be prepared (none)
    If they pull a Haiti or Venezuela in Bolivia, we'll need some extremely large riots.
  •  Coca will indeed be the excuse (4.00)
    I predict that coca will indeed be the excuse for intervention, but we need to get straight right now that it's a totally bogus one -- even if Morales permits legal exports of the coca leaves to places where they might be refined into cocaine.

    If Bolivian coca production or export is a justification for intervention there, then numerous countries in the world would be justified in intervening here based on our production and export of tobacco products.  In 2004, the United States exported raw tobacco and tobacco "waste" having a value of $1.044 billion, plus manufactured tobacco products (primarily cigarettes) having a value of $1.567 billion.  That's a total of $2.611 billion of U.S. exports of a product that will kill a substantial proportion of the people who use it, and that will dwarf the death toll from coca products.  The TOTAL exports of the Bolivian economy are under $2 billion, and the great majority of them have nothing whatsoever to do with coca.

    Our insistence on dealing with OUR cocaine problem by attempting to stop coca production in South American countries where coca is traditionally used in a manner that doesn't cause major social problems bears a major share of the responsibility for the civil war in Colombia, for the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) violence in Peru, and for the popularity of Evo Morales in Bolivia.  Several years ago, my wife and I were part of a small tour group in Peru which included visits to Cuzco and Machu Picchu, where coca is openly sold, and where it is commonly consumed by the peasants by chewing the leaves, and by the more prosperous residents as coca tea.  On our last night in the highlands, I asked the members of our group what they thought the chances were of stopping coca production in the Andean highlands.  Without exception, the members of our group predicted that any government that seriously tried to outlaw coca production and to enforce such a ban would either fall (if enough of the country was in the highlands) or would engender a revolution in the highlands.

    Cocaine use is unquestionably a problem in the United States, but we need to deal with it HERE, not be exporting the social costs of dealing with it to South American countries.

  •  I hope Evo can pull it off (4.00)
    Bolivia doesn't have the vast influx of oil money that Venezuela has - and I believe that has been the saving grace for Chavez.

    I hope Evo leads an honest gov't - if he does, his chances, and those of his people, will inprove considerably.

  •  i've been following this for a while (4.00)
    back in mid-august, i posted this...
       
    i've been posting for some time now on the u.s. moves to reestablish influence and control in latin america... i talked about how paraguay was being groomed as a new location for u.s. military bases... now, rummy visits asuncion... and, of course, paraguay, with its stunted economy would like u.s. bases... what an economic boost...! but, awwwww, shit...

            Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, arriving in this South American capital Tuesday, said countries in the region should help strengthen democracy in Bolivia and suggested that governments in Cuba and Venezuela have been involved in Bolivia in "unhelpful ways."

            Rumsfeld's brief trip is aimed at reinforcing ties with regional democracies as they fight political instability, terrorism and drug trafficking, defense officials said. Rumsfeld will also visit Peru.

            Increasing political problems in Bolivia, which borders Paraguay to the northwest, have been fostered by Cuban and Venezuelan authorities, U.S. officials contend.


        is this stage-setting or what...?

    looks like things are moving right along... with morales' election yesterday, i imagine things will pick up steam...
  •  very nice diary and mostly accurate (4.00)
    Here's some things I would add:  

    1. Coca when chewed gives you a energy buzz simliar to coffee.  It also numbs the mouth and alleviates hunger.  It's not habit forming although most indigenous Bolivians chew it on a daily basis.  This is especially true for the miners, who use coca as a food and energy substitute.  The only drawback is that it turns your teeth an unattractive shade of green.  It took me two days to brush it off.
    2. Aymara and Quechua are not ethnicities or tribes, they are lingual groups.  You could speak of the Quechua nation however as the language ties them together.
    3. Most importantly, Bolivia is now in a very tough spot.  They rely on debt relief from the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative run by the IMF/WB.  Should they nationalize their LNG reserves that would likely lead to a suspension of aid dispersements as nationalization runs counter to the privitization required under the program.  Secondly, Bolivia does not on it's own have nearly enough money to start up a state run operation.  And prior state run operations in gas and mining have been notoriously inefficient.
    4. Another issue relating to LNG is the location of the gas.  It's mostly in the Santa Cruz province, which is largely mestizo/European.  Talk out of Santa Cruz has been of seceeding from Bolivia in order to keep profits from the LNG inside Santa Cruz and not have it redistributed to the Andean highlands.  With Morales in power secession becomes more of a real possibility.  Civil war would almost certainly erupt, leading to the possibility of a US intervention.
    5. Don't look at Morales as a savior.  This represents a landmark in Bolivian history and is a great day for the indigenous Bolivians, however, Morales himself has a lot to prove.  In my time researching him I found a remarkable leader, who has done remarkable things in solidifying the indigenous base.  But he is also prone to making  statements one day and then two days later entirely contradicting himself.  He has ideas, and a popular/ist platform, but in terms of policy he is weak and will run into issues.
    6. On the Queen Victoria story, what is more she ordered the navy to go and bombard La Paz.  But when she learned that Bolivia was a landlocked country, she crossed it off her map and said the famous words "Bolivia does not exist."
  •  Once again, Chris (4.00)
    you get your history wrong, and it screws up the entire frame of your diary.

    The prize in the War of the Pacific was the nitrate (which you quaintly call saltpeter, an archaic usage in English) fields in Bolivia's coastal province of Antofagasta and Peru's southernmost province of Tarapacá. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, it was discovered that in addition to providing the raw material for gunpowder nitrates were also an excellent fertilizer.

    For some thirty years prior to that discovery, guano (or bird shit) was the principal fertilizer fueling the agrarian revolution in North America and Europe. Most guano, however, was exported from Peru. In fact, Peruvian guano exports became the sole source of income for the Peruvian state in the 1840s, bringing a brief period of stability to an endemically unstable country.

    By the time of the War of the Pacific, however, nitrates had begun to replace guano as the most important mineral fertilizer on the world market. The market shift had already had devastating consequences on Peru's economy, which had entered into a steep depression following its default on its foreign loans in 1872. In fact, Peru had still not recovered from the depression when Chile forced it into war at the end of the decade.

    While it is true that major international actors played a contributing role to the outbreak of war, most historians today see the War of the Pacific as a predominantly local affair. The immediate cause of the war was Bolivia's attempt to assert its sovereignty over mostly Chilean mining entrepreneurs exploiting the nitrates in Antofagasta. While the question of who started the war is politically charged -- Bolivians, who want their outlet to the sea back, blame Chilean imperialism, while Chileans blame an irrational Bolivian dictator -- there is no question about the historical animosity between the two countries. That animosity dates back at least to the 1830s, when Chile did provoke a war against a confederated Peruvian-Bolivian state, and succeeded in separating the confederacy.

    Once the war began, Chile did its utmost to bring in Peru, and took advantage of both countries' weakness to steal away their most important nitrate deposits. For the balance of the 19th century, and the first quarter of the 20th, nitrates became to Chile what guano had been to Peru in the middle of the 19th.

    In the 1850s, the United States sent a naval expedition to Peru in an aborted effort to seize Peru's guano islands, but a quick-thinking diplomat in Lima averted war between the two countries.

    •  Thanks for the clarification in your usual (4.00)
      gracious manner. Have a "4". And you might correct some details in Wikipedia as well.

      Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
      You can kill one, but another is born.
      The words are written down, the deed, the date.

      Czeslaw Milosz

      by Chris Kulczycki on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 09:30:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The bogeyman effect (4.00)
    Castro, Morales and Chávez get their popularity, in part (though by no means entirely), from claiming that The Gringos Are Coming. Maybe they are; but in Castro's case, The Gringos Have Been Coming for over 40 years now.

    Other bogeymen are: for Bush, Osama; for Álvaro Uribe, the FARC. How much more convenient for Uribe that the FARC really is out there shooting up the Colombian countryside.

    What I don't understand is how the 500 soldiers said to be stationed in Paraguay are supposed to seize Bolivia, when three hundred times that number can't control Iraq.

    No, I don't think an armed intervention is in the cards just yet. We don't have the troops. Other funny business is possible, of course; but even that may backfire. The Keystone Koup of April 2002 left Chávez so much stronger than before that I could almost believe that he ginned it up himself.

    (I have no evidence for that assertion, of course. Then again, lack of evidence doesn't stop Chávez or Castro from making wild-ass claims, so why should it stop me?)

    If Congress authorizes a draft, or when the troops come home from Iraq (may that day come soon), then Chávez and Morales may be justified in claiming that The Gringos Are Coming.

    Osama has killed his thousands, and Bush his tens of thousands.

    by Sura 109 on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 09:24:43 AM PST

  •  this is why I come to dailykos (none)
    to get real information.

    Thanks.

    Awesome diary.  

  •  Media can barely pronounce Bolivia... (4.00)
    let alone knowledgably analyze the election.  The coverage on this non-event has been atrocious.  Most of the reports just mention ominously that coca production will be legal.  If coca didn't sound like the drug, cocaine, they wouldn't be saying it so ominously.  Naturally, they don't report that Morales will not allow production of illegal narcotics.  
      This is a perfect example of of the cluelessness of the media.  I've yet to hear anyone explain why this new government is "America's/Bush's worst nightmare.  So Morales likes Chavez?  Why does it matter that much?  Americans just wince at South America because they think it's some ungodly cesspool of civilization.  Americans need to get out more.  Bush won't like Morales because he's a leftist, and leftists won't give in to corporatism so easily.  And honestly, Bolivia just isn't that important.  Fucking media gasbags don't know what they're talking about.  Their ignorance is showing.
    •  asdf (none)
      Morales and Chavez are close.  Morales has met with Chavez on more than a few occasions, and Chavez has reportedly given aid to Morales and MAS.  Just a little background info.
      •  Ok. (none)
          Thanks for the info.  This whole thing is a farce.  Morales is a democratically elected leader, and so far he has said some responsible things.  Morales may not subscribe to the tenants of neo-liberalism, but why does this justify "worst nightmare" status.  And while I don't like Chavez, isn't it nice to see South American countries working together?  I just don't see what's to fear from Morales.  He hasn't proven anything yet - he might be South America's savior, or another opportunistic creature of the status quo.  Who knows?  But why do we have to jump all over him?
           For those of you who think to compare this situation to Ahmadinejad's Iran, you're wrong.  Morales never threatened the territory of another nation.  Morales is the president of an underdeveloped poverty-stricken country, which is about as geopolitically inconsequential as it gets.  Leave him alone, ignore him, and either he'll tone the rhetoric, or we just won't hear it, or care about it anymore.
      •  Morales, Chavez and Maradona lead (none)
        the Slamdance to Bush's Sundance of an America's Summit.

        You can google for pictures of that. Chavez and Morales both challenged Bush to a one on one debate, which Bush gracefully, uh for him, declined.

        "It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government." -- Thomas Paine

        by pinche tejano on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 12:04:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Google Earth shows a 12,000 foot runway (none)
    Sticks out like a sore thumb it's so big in the middle of nowhere, beside the town of Marechal Estigarribia. Google names it the Dr. Luis Maria Argana Airport.

    "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." Dr. ML King, from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

    by bewert on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 10:09:31 AM PST

  •  interview with Morales (none)
    In These Times has an interview with Morales.

    Interview here

    And yes, I do work at ITT.

  •  Paraguay and Bolivia (none)
    The GDP per capita of Paraguay is $4800 per year, and while Bolivia tired of selling its soul because the poverty never changed and finally elected an indigenous leader, the same does not apply to Paraguay.

    After the horrors of the abuses of the indigenous peoples of South America for centuries, its encouraging to see them succeed.

    American military who commit crimes in Paraguay are not subject to prosecution, and that runway will come in really useful. I do hope Morales gets a fair chance at democracy, before powers that be start undermining his efforts.

  •  Paraguay is in the middle of it (4.00)
    Reader vote today on ABC Color website (Asuncion newspaper):

    ¿Cree que Evo Morales hará un buen gobierno en Bolivia? (Do you think that Evo Morales will make a good leader for Bolivia?)

    • SÍ Votos: 51 42.86%

    • NO Votos: 68 57.14%
     Total de votos: 119
    ____

    At the risk of a long post, there has been some interesting discussion recently on the web/in the press, including in the letters to the editor in Asuncion.  (I have dates and references for the articles, but no links)

    1st article:  Oxford Analytica 03 October 2005

    PARAGUAY: Stronger ties sought with United States

    SUBJECT: Paraguayan relations with the United States and Mercosur.

    SIGNIFICANCE: US government denials that it intends to establish a permanent military base in Paraguay represent an attempt to quell fears by Brazil and Argentina that Paraguay is seeking stronger economic and political ties with the United States at the expense of its treaty obligations to Mercosur.

    ANALYSIS: US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld paid an official visit to Paraguay on August 16, after the Paraguayan Senate's June 28 approval of an increase in the frequency of US troop visits to Paraguay (see PARAGUAY/US: Military 'cooperation' raises tensions - August 12, 2005). US troops have been carrying our joint manoeuvres in Paraguay for several decades. However,under the new agreement, their presence will be increased to 13 missions - each up to 45 days -- between July 2004 and December 2006. As well as training for peace-keeping and anti-terrorism, medical missions will attend
    poor families. The average personnel size of each mission is around 20, suggesting a total of around 360 troops over the period.

    In his interview with President Nicanor Duarte Frutos, Rumsfeld sought Paraguayan support for US effort to portray Presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Fidel Castro of Cuba as destabilising elements in the region.  However, Paraguayan Defence Minister Roberto Gonzalez responded publicly that relations with both countries were normal:
        * a deal is under negotiation to import petroleum on preferential terms from Venezuela; and

        * Cuba continues to provide support in the health sector in the form of scholarships for Paraguayans to study medicine in Havana and Cuban doctors who work in the Paraguayan countryside.
    [snip]

    Military manoeuvres.

    Left-wing media sources then resurrected a story that the United States was planning to establish a military base at Mariscal Estigarribia in the Paraguayan Chaco. Growing geopolitical concerns in the region -- the prospect of a leftist regime in Bolivia under Evo Morales, reported terrorism training camps in the tri-border region around Ciudad del Este and the suggestion of FARC links with Paraguayan insurgents -- sparked speculation that the agreement may be a stepping stone to Mariscal Estigarribia becoming the fifth permanent US military base in Latin America.  The current four are at Guatanamo Bay, Cuba; Aruba-Curacao; Manta, Ecuador; and Comalpa, El Salvador; as yet there is none in the Southern Cone.

    Media speculation was heightened after Castiglioni [Paraguay VP] told the Argentine newspaper Clarin on September 11 that Paraguay was seeking a free trade agreement with the United States. The foreign ministers of Brazil and Argentina reacted immediately, stating bluntly that such a deal would be incompatible with Paraguayan membership of Mercosur. Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim also took the opportunity to add that the Paraguayan government should clarify the terms of the US troop presence in Paraguay and show greater transparency in its bilateral negotiations with Washington.

    Mercosur concerns.

    Castiglioni's remarks may have been yet another gaffe, in which he had simply mistaken a 'free trade' agreement with a 'preferential trade' agreement. Subsequently, Duarte, Foreign Minister Leila Rachid and the US embassy stated categorically that the two countries were not negotiating a free trade agreement, and on September 21 Rachid denied that the presence of US troops in Paraguay was linked to any plans to sign a bilateral trade deal. She denied that Asuncion was considering withdrawing from Mercosur and reports that US troops has been granted immunity from prosecution, reiterating that Paraguay, as a member of Mercosur, is a signatory to the Rome Treaty for the International Criminal Court.

    Nevertheless, at least on the surface there is now a marked difference of opinion between Duarte and his vice-president with regard to Mercosur.  [snip]  His critical remarks received a favourable response among the Paraguayan public, which remains very hostile to Mercosur.

    Foreign relations.
    The latest spat must be seen in the wider context of changing Paraguayan relations with the United States and Brazil. Despite a US diplomatic offensive shortly after Duarte took office in August 2003, the Paraguayan government remained firm in its diplomatic support for Mercosur in general and Brazil in particular. It maintained its opposition to immunity from prosecution for US citizens and did not vote in favour of condemning human rights violations in Cuba.

    However, early 2005 saw a marked deterioration in relations with Brazil:

        * The diplomatic dispute originated when Brazil tightened measures to curb smuggling from Ciudad del Este by restricting the flow of traffic across the Friendship Bridge linking the two countries across the Parana River.

        * Paraguay responded by harassing the thousands of Brazilians who cross the border every day without work permits to work in Ciudad del Este.

        * Relations reached a low in mid-April when a Paraguayan congressman was detained for an hour by Brazilian customs officials in Foz de Yguazu.

    [snip]

    'Plan Paraguay'?
    Duarte visited Bogota in early March 2005 at the invitation of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who had offered cooperation in efforts to uncover alleged FARC activity in Paraguay, in particular relating to the kidnap and murder of the daughter of former President Raul Cubas (see PARAGUAY: Cubas case forces corruption crackdown - February 28, 2005).  During the visit, Duarte was impressed by the manner in which Bogota had successfully received trade preferences and economic aid in exchange for improved macroeconomic management and collaboration with Washington on the anti-narcotics front.

    Castiglioni made a little-reported visit to Washington in June to highlight the vastly improved macroeconomic management and concerted anti-corruption efforts of the Duarte administration, and asked for Paraguay to receive similar treatment to Colombia. This message, repeated by Duarte during the Rumsfeld visit seems to be bearing fruit, with a number of senior US officials visiting Paraguay in recent months. Although official US aid for 2005 totals only 10 million dollars, Paraguay is now seeking inclusion in the Millennium Challenge Fund, with a 200 million dollar bid for funding.

    CONCLUSION: The decline in US hegemony in the Southern Cone has helped to raise the geopolitical significance of Paraguay. For its part, Paraguay is undergoing a gradual shift in its foreign policy as it seeks to strengthen ties with the United States while at the same time using this as a bargaining counter to obtain financial concessions from its wealthier Mercosur partners. The shift is likely to continue in light of the clear interests pursued by both sides.
    _
    _____

    2nd article:The Economist  1 October 2005
    Improbable allies - Paraguay and the United States

    A flirtation unsettles the neighbours

    LANDLOCKED in South America's sweaty heart, Paraguay achieved independence in 1811 but waited a century and a half for its first visit by a head of state from outside Latin America, Charles de Gaulle, in 1964. So it is not surprising that visiting dignitaries cause a stir. Donald Rumsfeld, the United States' defence secretary, caused more than that when he dropped by in August. The media in nearby Argentina and Brazil saw the visit as a prelude to a permanent American base in Paraguay and the country's withdrawal from Mercosur, a four-country trade block dominated by Brazil.

    That prompted Brazil to lay down the law. "Paraguay must understand that the choice is between Mercosur and other possible partners," declared Celso Amorim, Brazil's foreign minister, last month.

    In fact, the United States may not be planning to turn Paraguay, a country of just 6m, into a strategic appendage. But Mr Rumsfeld's 18-hour "courtesy call" was not merely that. Both countries see in each other a potential partner in managing regional worries.

    For Paraguay, the main worry is Mercosur, and Brazil in particular. Althoug trade within Mercosur is supposed to be free, Paraguay complains that its neighbours strangle its exports in red tape. When convenient, Brazil ignores its Mercosur partners, for example by awarding China "market economy" status. Paraguay recognises Taiwan. Its Mercosur partners "proclaim integration but work very slowly toward achieving it," laments Luis Alberto
    Castiglioni, the vice-president.

    [snip]

    To the United States, Paraguay looks like a friend in a troubling region. It sits at the southern end of an arc of instability, a chain of weak democracies that are being undermined, the United States alleges, by Venezuela's leftist president, Hugo Ch=E1vez. Paraguay's democracy is also shaky and its discontents profound. But the United States regards its president, Nicanor Duarte Frutos, as a serious reformer. An American official in Asuncion says he has made "good progress" in fighting illegal drugs and pirated goods and in blocking financing for terrorist groups-all of which flourish at the spot where Paraguay's border meets Brazil's and Argentina's.

    It is easy to imagine the United States wanting to counter instability in the neighbourhood with a military or intelligence presence. But Americans and Paraguayans alike scoff at claims of a base at Mariscal Estigarribia, close to the Bolivian border (the scene of a 1932-35 war). These claims caused particular alarm in Bolivia, which may soon elect an ally of Mr Chavez (see box on previous page). But, according to the United States, the only change in their low-key military relations is that Paraguay has approved several (small-scale) American exercises over the next 18 months all at once, rather than singly.

    Paraguay is hoping for $35m in extra aid from the United States' "Millennium Challenge Account", which rewards countries for fighting corruption and freeing enterprise. What Paraguay really craves is more access for its clothing, beef and organic sugar. Mr Castiglioni wants Mercosur to give Paraguay a "waiver" to negotiate trade agreements with the United States and other countries. Uruguay, another member of Mercosur, boosted exports to the United States without leaving the block. But Paraguayans are still unsure how much the United States is prepared to invest in their budding
    friendship.
    _______
    Letter in ABC Color, Asuncion:

    Soldados americanos en Paraguay
    Evelyn Ruíz Díaz Candia
    Publicada: 17/10/2005

    Escribo para que cuestionemos lo que está pasando en nuestro país. Los países del Cono Sur están pidiendo una explicación a Paraguay, pues la presencia de soldados norteamericanos en el país constituyen una amenaza para la soberanía, la democracia y la vigencia de los derechos humanos en toda la región.

    Pero es importante que nosotros mismos, como paraguayos, pidamos una explicación. Ellos tienen autorización para traer equipos bélicos pesados y el mayor interés en la región no es el terrorismo, ni ser solidarios con Paraguay. Ellos están interesados en ser la única súper potencia mundial. Nosotros tenemos recursos ecológicos, agua, carne, vegetación en abundancia y sabemos bien que en los próximos siglos ese será el motivo de guerras. Y ahora pregunto:

    1) ¿Cómo es posible que los Estados Unidos no tengan responsabilidad por los daños que causen a la salud o al medio ambiente, ni tampoco a los recursos de la población?

    La entrada fue aprobada por el Congreso Nacional, justo cuando el embajador estadounidense, John F. Keane, anunció una asistencia financiera para fortalecer la lucha contra la corrupción, lavado de dinero y terrorismo.

    1. ¿Qué hicieron los Estados Unidos desde julio hasta ahora?

    2. ¿Por qué los paraguayos están callados?

    3. ¿Dónde está el gobierno que no nos da ninguna explicación?

    [translation]
    I am writing so that we will question what is going on in our country.  The Southern Cone countries are asking Paraguay for an explanation, since the presence of North American soldiers in the country constitute a threat to the sovereignty, democracy, and enforcement of human rights in the whole region.

    But is important that we ourselves, as Paraguayans, ask for an explanation.  They have authorization to bring heavy attack teams and the main interest in the region is not terrorism, nor to be allies of Paraguay.  They are interested in being the only world superpower.  We have ecological resources, water, meat, vegetation in abundance and we know well that in the coming centuries thes will be the reasoin for wars.  And now I ask:

    1. How is it possible that the US has no responsibility for the damages it causes to health or environment, nor to the public's resources?  His arrival was applauded by the National Congress, when US Ambassador John F. Keane announced financial assistance to strengthen the struggle against corruption, money-laundering, and terrorism.

    2. What has the US done from July until now?
    3. Why are Paraguayans silent?
    4. Where is the govenment that has given us no explanation?
    _______

    We should all be keeping a closer eye on the situation in Latin America in general, and in South America in particular, with regard to the Bush administration's "global policiies".  Death squads, anyone?  That's been the history when the US gets directly and intimately involved in the countries and their militaries.

    Stop the politicization of crime!

    by tom 47 on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 11:09:50 AM PST

    •  Apologies for some duplication (none)
      of the information in the posts or the links.

      This whole thing hads been going on for some time, and Rummy's personal involvement gives me the fantods.  

      Thanks for the great post, Chris, and for the others at your site and Eur. Trib, etc.

      Lots to keep on top of.  Coca, drug enforcement, democratically-elected regimes the US administration doesn't like, arms, "secret" airbases in plain view:  Yikes!

      Stop the politicization of crime!

      by tom 47 on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 11:31:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  One more datum for perspective: (none)
        Haiti, Bolivia, and Paraguay are the three poorest countries in the western hemisphere.  I think it is in that order.  Someone above cited the annnual per capita income in PY, and we are talking of the Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana of the Americas (in terms of being in a race for dead last).  And the US administration is playing that factor in all this.

        Stop the politicization of crime!

        by tom 47 on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 11:46:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Bush's war: (none)
    I don't see where Bush would find the troops. He would have to call a draft, given the fact that our troops are already stretched thin for war in Iraq, let alone try to start a war in Iran or Latin America. I would not rule out him trying to fund a covert guerilla insurrection against either Iran or Bolivia, though.
    •  Wait, Bush is really talking about war in Bolivia? (4.00)
      Has he seen a map? Does he know what kind of terrian he will be sending the troops into? Does he not realize everybody and their dog in the SA will want a shot at the USA if we send in troops? The 'insurgency' in Iraq will look a war exercise compared to fighting indigenous people on their hometurf (jungles, impassable canyons filled with rain forests, sheer mountain drops,)? This not an option.

      Other countries in SA are chomping at the bit for a little payback against Bush, this would be the only reason they need. Only Columbia might come to our aid, but that's because they are using our troops.

      If Bush attacks Bolivia, it will be the fall of the American empire. Iran will laugh, North Korea will giggle, and the rest of the world will just slowly shake it's head.

      Oh side note, Bush might also want to check with China before he rattles the saber anymore at Morales, he might be shocked to hear what they have to say.

      "It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government." -- Thomas Paine

      by pinche tejano on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 12:00:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think a shoot-em-up war is going (none)
        to happen. It might just be a matter of lending support to overthrow a democratically elected government, as has happened more than once in the past. A few mercenaries, a little cash, an exploding aircraft...

        Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
        You can kill one, but another is born.
        The words are written down, the deed, the date.

        Czeslaw Milosz

        by Chris Kulczycki on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 12:11:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  No doubt Dubya will soon be telling us (4.00)
    that Evo Morales and Ahmadinejab have been in contact for years and are now planning to attack Arkansas with WMDs - ah well, the Good Guys' work is never done, there's no end to those who'll need to be Shocked and Awed!

    we're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression

    by Lepanto on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 11:46:36 AM PST

    •  You got a laugh from me (4.00)
      but then I remember Reagan and those damn Sandinistas planning to invade Texas.  Let's not forget the impending doom that Granada poised in 1983.

      Forgive me for the rant:

      The US prime exports isn't democracy and freedom, but dictatorships from Chun, Marcos, Suharto, Mubuto, Duvalier (Papa Doc), Noreiga, Saudis, Saddam and a slew of other desposts that it makes me too sick to keep listing.

      But there is a strange lack of criticism with regards to totalitarian nations that don't mind ravaging their resources and suppressing their people, as long as we get our own shit on the cheap.  

      It's easier to attack elected leaders like Chavez and Morales.  Maybe that's the key reason it was so difficult to criticise Bush the begining.  He wasn't elected.

  •  Thanks, Chris (none)
    Reading this gives me some hope.  It may be false hope, and Morales may be taken out right away.  But:

    The hour has arrived when we liberate ourselves completely?

    You can't help but admire someone who can say that with a straight face.

    After visiting Nicaragua, it mystifies me too how our government can see these small, poor, struggling Latin American countries as some kind of major threat.  What are they going to do to us, yell "Ooga Booga!"?  It's not like they'd even be much of a market for our products if ideologically-subdued.

  •  isn't guano BAT shit??? n/t (none)
    •  2 entries found for guano. (dictionary.com) (none)
      gua·no  Pronunciation Key  (gwän)
      n. pl. gua·nos

         1. A substance composed chiefly of the dung of sea birds or bats, accumulated along certain coastal areas or in caves and used as fertilizer.
         2. Any of various similar substances, such as a fertilizer prepared from ground fish parts.

      From Wikidedia:

      The dry climate of the area had permitted the accumulation and preservation of huge quantities of high-quality nitrate deposits -guano and saltpeter- over thousands of years. The discovery during the 1840s of their use as fertilizer and as a key ingredient in explosives made the area strategically valuable; Bolivia, Chile and Peru had suddenly found themselves sitting on the largest reserves of a resource that the world needed for economic and military expansion.

      Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
      You can kill one, but another is born.
      The words are written down, the deed, the date.

      Czeslaw Milosz

      by Chris Kulczycki on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 01:32:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Paraguayan poll (none)
    I would think it unlikely that the few indigenous in Paraguay, those that remain anyway,  are highly unlikely to have the money to buy either the paper or the internet let alone be able to read it.

    Literacy rates in Paraguay are in a downward trend according to UNESCO. So I hardly think that the poor of Paraguay have much of an opportunity to render their opinions of the victory of the peasants of Bolivia.

    If they could, Im not sure the poll would be the same as the one you show.

    •  No argument (none)
      I said it was a poll of ABC Color readers (on-line, at that).  The paper is rather middle-right, so the results don't surprise.

      Paraguay's history is very intereting - - yes, strictly speaking, there are only a small percentage of truly "indigenous" peoples, and those in much the condition of those in Brazil.  However,  95% or so of the population (that doesn't have or claim only European, or Japanese, or other ancestry) is of mixed European (mostly Spanish) and indigenous Guarani background.  Further, it is the only South American nation (unless Bolivia makes some changes with Morales) that is offically biligual - - Spanish and Guarani.  It is in the 1992 constitution (after Stroessner's fall), and officially part of the education curriculum.

      Only 5% of the population is Spanish monolingual - - 75% understand, most speak and understand Guarani.  It is the most widely-dispersed and spoken indigenous language in South America after Quechua (I believe) on the west coast.  It is spoken in parts of Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina in addition to Paraguay.

      Anyhoo, some stuff I have read...

      Stop the politicization of crime!

      by tom 47 on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 01:39:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Water (4.00)
    Great diary. The water issue you brought up is an egregious example of what goes wrong when US cronycorporations such as Bechtel are backed up by supposedly honest brokers such as the World Bank & IMF.

    There is some interesting reporting from the front lines of the Bolivian water riots here

    Check out the following quotes:

    The World Bank:

    No subsidies should be given to ameliorate the increase in water tariffs in Cochabamba.

    As protest leader Oscar Olivera put it:

    (Water-users in wealthy suburbs surrounding Washington, DC, home to many World Bank economists, pay approximately $17 per month for water, less than what many Colombians were asked to pay after water was privatized in one of South America's poorest countries.)
    Olivera continued, "I'd like to meet with Mr. Wolfensohn to educate him on how privatization has been a direct attack on Bolivia's poor. Families with monthly incomes of around $100 have seen their water bills jump to $20 per month - more than they spend on food. I'd like to invite Mr. Wolfensohn to come to Cochabamba and see the reality he apparently can't; see from his office in Washington, DC."

    And right on cue, Bechtel and its proxies in the Bolivian government at the time tried to place the blame on, you guessed it, "narcotraffickers":

    Bechtel ... released a statement claiming that "a number of other water, social and political issues are the root causes of this civil unrest." Moving to shift the blame, Bolivian government spokesman Ronald MacLean told reporters the "subversive" protest was "absolutely politically financed by narcotraffickers."

    No doubt Bushco would like to see Halliburton get its hands on the water this time, and they've even got Wolfowitz handily placed at the World Bank. Here's to the day when we have real leaders, who have a vision beyond providing the muscle for cronycorporations as they try to carpetbag the meager wealth of the least developed countries.

  •  Thankyou for all your work (none)
    This was such good diary , the collectivity of Kos really adds a whole new dimension to communication. The efforts of people such as yourself is truly appreciated, just wanted you to know that.
Leslie in CA, emptywheel, Canadian Reader, zeke L, MichaelPH, Stirling Newberry, Mark H, jps, Paleo, James Benjamin, Sparhawk, laurak, roonie, Caelian, joejoejoe, human, TaraIst, queerbklynboy, 2pt5cats, Gooserock, Rolfyboy6, Pandora, philgoblue, msl, colorado thistle, janinsanfran, RunawayRose, Maryscott OConnor, skiddlybop, Avila, wu ming, byoungbl, shycat, bellatrys, greatbasin2, uffdalib, cmk, movie buff, Pompatus, MarkosNYC, gecko, object16, Democarp, bumblebums, Jerome a Paris, tom 47, JohnT, redtravelmaster, Christopher Day, HariSeldon, RubDMC, Jean, vinifera, rasbobbo, alain2112, km4, mlafleur, bronte17, nyceve, Welshman, grassroot, buckhorn okie, AndyT, roses, chechecule, altoid, valleycat, pollbuster, peraspera, k2winters, Spud1, fumie, annan, rcvanoz, NewDirection, American Zapatista, businessdem, MKS, leevank, november3rd, kdrivel, Penny Century, dwahzon, renaissance grrrl, lcrp, 4jkb4ia, dcookie, southernblues, One bite at a time, Matt Jordan, ybruti, mattes, schuylkill, HK, alix, DarkSyde, rickeagle, kd texan, Timroff, BDA in VA, lalo456987, dvx, julifolo, Skennet Boch, danz, Elohite, maybeeso in michigan, farleftcoast, liberal atheist, el dorado gal, LarisaW, baccaruda, seesdifferent, OpherGopher, annettenajjar, Alien Abductee, Nordic, TigerMom, Shuvo Dutta, Unforgiven, reflectionsv37, afew, ocooper, spectre7, nailmaker, jorndorff, Jaime Frontero, dunderhead, calderonn, Barcelona, annefrank, peaceandprogress, nhwriter, miguelmas, monkey6079, ohcanada, kkjohnson, melvin, soyinkafan, fhcec, harrietshubby, FrankFrink, JosephAZ, poco, Major Danby, PoppyRocks, tommymet, RMorse, Digitking, Califlander, Ellicatt, Chincoteague, dougymi, Detroit in Appalachia, Beyond God, carolita, DelaCruz

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site