The oligarchy rejects any type of negotiation

Eduardo Dimas

As I write this article, the situation in Bolivia seems to be heading toward a civil war provoked by the secessionist attitude of the oligarchies in Santa Cruz and the other departments of the Half Moon (Tarija, Pando and Beni), the prefect of Cochabamba, and maybe someone else who remains in the shadows.

The position of Evo Morales' government weakened after the failure of the talks with the separatist prefects and his refusal -- very human but not very political -- to call the people to the streets and prevent the partition of Bolivia into two nations, one rich, the other poor.

The defiance of the oligarchy in Santa Cruz, led by prefect (governor) Rubén Costas and the president of the so-called Civic Committee of Santa Cruz, Branco Marinkovic (of Croatian origin), is an unequivocal sign that they feel supported by powerful internal and external forces.

It is no secret that the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, Philip S. Goldberg, is a specialist in the dismemberment of countries, an experience he acquired during his term in the former Yugoslavia. Goldberg spends more time in Santa Cruz than in La Paz, Bolivia's capital. Why?

It is evident that the U.S. government is interested in halting the process of change that is occurring in Latin America. Of all the progressive and nationalistic governments that have emerged in the region, the Bolivian government is the weakest, due to internal divisions, the ignorance of its people and the racism that has characterized Bolivian society. Evo Morales is an Aymara Indian.

The alternative media report that the secessionists also are supported by the Colombian government. Although definitive proof is not available, it is not possible to rule out that this is true, when we take into account that Colombian paramilitary groups have been organizing and training far-right formations in the four departments of the Half Moon.

The Santa Cruz secessionists are so sure of their success that Prefect Rubén Costa, a well-known oligarch, declared that after May 4, the date for a separatist referendum, "a second Bolivia will be created," because the departments of Tarija, Pando and Benin will join Santa Cruz. He said he enjoyed the support of the prefect of La Paz, an assurance that the latter has not denied.

In an urgent meeting called at the request of Bolivia, the Organization of American States on April 26 approved by consensus a call to the separatists to suspend the referendum and begin a dialogue with the government, which, although difficult, could prevent an inevitable confrontation, with the consequent spilling of blood.

The OAS's political secretary, Dante Caputo, who visited Santa Cruz de la Sierra (the department's capital) but was not received by the prefect and the other authorities, expressed his concern over peace in Bolivia, given the aggressiveness of the authorities of that prefecture, who accused him of being "a Chavista."

The White House, through its ambassador in Bolivia, declared its neutrality in the conflict. That's the equivalent of giving a green light to the secessionists it has helped to organize and to develop a systematical propaganda campaign to convince Santa Cruzans that secession would improve their lives.

The autonomy document drafted by the authorities in Santa Cruz resuscitates the Camba Nation, an old secessionist project of the local oligarchy, first expounded in 1905, that has always had supporters. Santa Cruz is Bolivia's richest and most densely populated department, with more than 2 million people.

The rest of the departments in the Media Luna (Tarija, Pando and Beni) have large fields of crude oil, natural gas and other minerals. Also, Bolivia's largest agricultural riches are concentrated there. The idea of becoming independent from the rest of the country -- poor and less developed -- could sound like a sirens' song to Media Luna residents, particularly those of the white race.

But there is another element that cannot be forgotten. Evo Morales' rise to the presidency meant for the oligarchy the loss of much of the power it held for more than a century. Whenever the oligarchy's interests were in danger, the Army staged a coup d'état -- sometimes more than once a year -- and controlled the situation.

The oligarchy has been unable to convince the Armed Forces to take a similar step for various reasons, among them the existence of a new military high command not trained in U.S. academies. The high command has repeatedly stated its obedience to the constitutional principles and its respect for the president, who was elected by the people.

The other reason the oligarchs cannot forgive Evo Morales and his followers is that he tried to give dignity to the living conditions of the poorest sectors of the population. The nationalization of hydrocarbons has served to improve the state's revenues and to alleviate the difficult economic situation of most of the Bolivian people.

The Dignity Bond, which is the lifetime pension given to people 60 and older, the campaigns of health and education -- with the help of Cuba and Venezuela -- and Bolivia's membership in the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) are changes that the oligarchy cannot forgive, much less accept, because they diminish its power and existence as a class.

Those changes cannot be accepted by the White House, either, or the other oligarchies of Latin America. It is a problem of the survival of class distinctions, a topic that dovetails perfectly with the interests of the power elites, not only in the United States but everywhere else in the world. The plan to keep the neoliberal model alive at any price remains in effect.

It is no surprise, then, that the European press talks about the impossibility of an accord between the opposition and Evo Morales' progressive government. It is no surprise that the U.S. media are minimizing a situation that could lead to a civil war.

Next May 4, several issues will be settled in Bolivia. An unconstitutional referendum called by the Santa Cruz oligarchy can lead the country to a state of civil war in which -- have no doubt -- external forces will participate on the side of the secessionists.

In an urgent meeting of ALBA, called by President Chávez, the other three member countries (Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela) gave their unconditional support to President Morales. How far they can furnish that support, only they know.

But there is another way to keep the Bolivian oligarchy to achieve its purposes: to call the people to the streets. A people "who have nothing to lose, except their chains." I think that it is better to die defending the interests of that nation than to surrender.

Before it is too late, it is up to Evo Morales to mobilize the people and, if possible, the Army (though that's not known) before the oligarchy achieves its purposes and implants anew the neoliberal model, with all its consequences. Several years ago, a gallows was built in Santa Cruz de la Sierra for Evo Morales and his followers. I invite you to meditate.

Republished from Progreso Weekly


terrorscam said...

Without the support of the military in Bolivia, I think the secessionists will lose. But they don't really care either. Those who fight for them will die, and when things get really grim, the greedy evil bastards will just skip the country.

Rich people are cruel, sick, and inhuman.

Anonymous said...

This , according to my point of view, a completely parcialized, one sided opinion. More than the 70% of the population in Santa Cruz and the other Autonomist regions supports more local autonomy and this referendum was actually originited for the very Evo Morales goverment shortly after winning the election for president, when the provinces could decide if they wanted some local control of the resources the produce or just left the central goverment follow the cuban and venezuelan politics. Also do not forget that the venezuelan government has openly giving money to anyone that opposes the anutonomy and sending armed troops to create conflict and silence the opposition.

Anonymous said...

I am a poor - middle class Bolivian, i voted for Evo morales with hope that he could help Bolivia, but instead he is the one that is causing all the problems, he is the one who is dividing Bolivia. the only solution to survive is with the posibility that the referendum on may 4 with give us bolivians what we desperatly need, an oportunity to progress and get out of this poverty and civil problems. Ruben costas is a hero. the person who wrote this article has no idea what is really going on in Bolivia

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