A letter from Evo Morales to the indigenous peoples of the world: Nature, forests and indigenous peoples are not for sale

Indigenous brothers of the world:

I am deeply concerned because some pretend to use leaders and indigenous groups to promote the commoditization of nature and in particular of forest through the establishment of the REDD mechanism (Reduction Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) and its versions REDD+ REED++.

Every day an extension of forests and rainforest equivalent to 36,000 football fields disappears in the world. Each year 13 million hectares of forest and rain forest are lost. At this rate, the forests will disappear by the end of the century.

The forests and rainforest are the largest source of biodiversity. If deforestation continues, thousands of species, animals and plants will be lost forever. More than three quarters of accessible fresh water zones come from uptake zones in forests, hence the worsening of water quality when the forest condition deteriorates. Forests provide protection from flooding, erosion and natural disasters. They provide non-timber goods as well as timber goods. Forests are a source of natural medicines and healing elements not yet discovered. Forests and the rainforest are the lungs of the atmosphere. 18% of all emissions of greenhouse gases occurring in the world are caused by deforestation.

It is essential to stop the destruction of our Mother Earth.

Currently, during climate change negotiations everyone recognizes that it is essential to avoid the deforestation and degradation of the forest. However, to achieve this, some propose to commoditize forests on the false argument that only what has a price and owner is worth taking care of.

Their proposal is to consider only one of the functions of forests, which is its ability to absorb carbon dioxide, and issue "certificates", "credits" or "Carbon rights" to be commercialized in a carbon market. This way, companies of the North have the choice of reducing their emissions or buy “REDD certificates" in the South according to their economic convenience. For example, if a company has to invest USD40 or USD50 to reduce the emission of one ton of C02 in a "developed country", they would prefer to buy a "REDD certificate" for USD10 or USD20 in a "developing country", so they can they say they have fulfilled to reduce the emissions of the mentioned ton of CO2.

Through this mechanism, developed countries will have handed their obligation to reduce their emissions to developing countries, and the South will once again fund the North and that same northern company will have saved a lot of money by buying "certified" carbon from the Southern forests. However, they will not only have cheated their commitments to reduce emissions, but they will have also begun the commoditization of nature, with the forests

The forests will start to be priced by the CO2 tonnage they are able to absorb. The "credit" or "carbon right" which certifies that absorptive capacity will be bought and sold like any commodity worldwide. To ensure that no one affects the ownership of “REDD certificates” buyers, a series of restrictions will be put into place, which will eventually affect the sovereign right of countries and indigenous peoples over their forests and rainforests. So begins a new stage of privatization of nature never seen before which will extend to water, biodiversity and what they call “environmental services".

While we assert that capitalism is the cause of global warming and the destruction of forests, rainforests and Mother Earth, they seek to expand capitalism to the commoditization of nature with the word “green economy".

To get support for this proposal of commoditization of nature, some financial institutions, governments, NGOs, foundations, "experts" and trading companies are offering a percentage of the "benefits" of this commoditization of nature to indigenous peoples and communities living in native forests and the rainforest.

Nature, forests and indigenous peoples are not for sale.

For centuries, Indigenous peoples have lived conserving and preserving natural forests and rainforest. For us the forest and rainforest are not objects, are not things you can price and privatize. We do not accept that native forests and rainforest be reduced to a simple measurable quantity of carbon. Nor do we accept that native forests be confused with simple plantations of a single or two tree species. The forest is our home, a big house where plants, animals, water, soil, pure air and human beings coexist.

It is essential that all countries of the world work together to prevent forest and rainforest deforestation and degradation. It is an obligation of developed countries, and it is part of its climate and environmental debt climate, to

contribute financially to the preservation of forests, but NOT through its commoditization. There are many ways of supporting and financing developing countries, indigenous peoples and local communities that contribute to the preservation of forests.

Developed countries spend tens of times more public resources on defense, security and war than in climate change. Even during the financial crisis many have maintained and increased their military spending. It is inadmissible that by using the needs communities have and the ambitions of some leaders and indigenous "experts", indigenous peoples are expected to be involved with the commoditization of nature.

All forests and rainforests protection mechanisms should guarantee indigenous rights and participation, but not because indigenous participation is achieved in REDD, we can accept that a price for forests and rainforests is set and negotiated in a global carbon market.

Indigenous brothers, let us not be confused. Some tell us that the carbon market mechanism in REDD will be voluntary. That is to say that whoever wants to sell and buy, will be able, and whoever does not want to, will be able to stand aside. We cannot accept that, with our consent, a mechanism is created where one voluntarily sells Mother Earth while others look crossed handed

Faced with the reductionist views of forests and rainforest commoditization, indigenous peoples with peasants and social movements of the world must fight for the proposals that emerged of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth:

1) Integrated management of native forests and rainforest not only considering its mitigation function as CO2 sink but all its functions and potentiality, whilst avoiding confusing them with simple plantations.

2) Respect the sovereignty of developing countries in their integral management of forests.

3) Full compliance with the Rights of Indigenous Peoples established by the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Convention No. 169 of the ILO and other international instruments; recognition and respect to their territories; revalorization and implementation of indigenous knowledge for

the preservation of forests; indigenous peoples participation and indigenous management of forest and rainforest.

4) Funding of developed countries to developing countries and indigenous peoples for integral management of forest as part of their climate and environmental debt. No establishment of any mechanism of carbon markets or "incentives" that may lead to the commoditization of forests and rainforest.

5) Recognition of the rights of Mother Earth, which includes forests, rainforest and all its components. In order to restore harmony with Mother Earth, putting a price on nature is not the way but to recognize that not only human beings have the right to life and to reproduce, but nature also has a right to life and to regenerate, and that without Mother Earth Humans cannot live. Indigenous brothers, together with our peasant brothers and social movements of the world, we must mobilize so that the conclusions of Cochabamba are assumed in Cancun and to impulse a mechanism of RELATED ACTIONS TO THE FORESTS based on these five principles, while always maintaining high the unity of indigenous peoples and the principles of respect for Mother Earth, which for centuries we have preserved and inherited from our ancestors.

EVO MORALES AYMA

President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia

Bolivian president rallies New Yorkers to protect nature

NEW YORK—The earth has its own rights, and we are responsible for protecting them, Bolivian President Evo Morales told a standing room-only crowd at the Community Church of New York in Midtown. These rights, he said, must be taken into account when we consider environmental and climate change policies.

The church was full to capacity; 600 people turned out to hear Morales. The audience reflected the city of New York in all its glory, including many young people.

The president waxed nostalgic, speaking about his childhood and how his family related to the environment. The indigenous community, of which he is a part, shared the resources. But now, he said, referring to people in his country and elsewhere who have waged fights against corporate agricultural interests, "those of us who want to protect Mother Earth are labeled terrorists."

The church's pastor, Bruce Southworth, recognized the connection between his church's mission and having Morales speak. According to the mission statement, the congregation promotes "a just world in which all persons can share equitably in the wealth of the world, and freely develop their gifts and potential."

Southworth highlighted the similarities between that mission and the Bolivian president, saying that putting faith into action means being part of the movement against neoliberal economic policies, which Morales helps to lead.

Tiokasin Ghosthorse, a member of the Lakota people, a Native American tribe whose land is in the Dakotas, is an activist for the rights of indigenous people. In his introduction, he praised Moralas for his struggle to protect the environment. He said, "We must change our thinking about the earth's resources" and that President Moralas is a voice for change, especially in his appeal to the industrialized nations.

Morales spoke in calm yet passionate tones. Those who came before him who also wanted to preserve the earth's resources are heroes, he said, but were demonized as "terrorists, communists" and killed. And now, he said, "the same powers accuse me of being a terrorist. When people organize for peace and protection of the earth's resources, we once again are accused of being terrorists. We know these lies will be spread against us, but the people continue to push back."

Morales said that in Bolivia the seasons are "mixed up." Drilling for water and getting water is becoming more and more difficult. Globally, he opined, there is a lot of money available for war and destruction but money to find solutions to the coming global crisis is hardly available.

"We must have a strong movement in the 21st century for the rights of Mother Earth," Morales said. "This is the most important thing for humankind if we are to survive."

Republished from Peoples World

Bolivian President Evo Morales Tells Obama ‘Stop Deporting Immigrants’

Annie Correal

NEW YORK – As heads of state gathered here to attend the United Nations General Assembly, Bolivian President Evo Morales ended a speech at Hunter College on Monday by calling on President Barack Obama to stop “expelling” Latin American immigrants who are trying to eke out a living.

“Here there’s a lot of talk about policies that aim to expel immigrants,” he said. “There are deep asymmetries between countries, between continents, so of course our brothers in Latin America come here to improve their economic situation. But our brothers who come to the U.S., to Europe, to survive, to reach a better station in life, they are thrown out. What kind of policy is that?”

Morales’ message: “I call on President Obama to halt these policies that aim to deport the Latin American people here, because we all have the same rights.”

President Morales was at Hunter to promote his biography, recently translated into English. But he closed his speech with a few select words for the American president. “I was convinced a black man and an indigenous man were going to work like a pair of oxen for the whole world,” said the indigenous Morales. “It doesn’t make sense that one discriminated party would discriminate against another.”

Morales’ biographer, Martin Sivak, spoke warmly of the Bolivian President, with whom he traveled for two years to write, Evo Morales: The Extraordinary Rise of the First Indigenous President of Bolivia.

Evo Morales was born to a poor indigenous family in the high plains of Bolivia, and grew up to be a union organizer who represented coca farmers. His rise to power was characterized by fierce opposition, including detention and torture in Bolivia, and more recently, ridicule abroad, where he has been called a puppet of Hugo Chavez. His policies have sought to nationalize natural resources and basic services, and The New York Times described his diplomatic relationship with Washington as “tense.” In an 2009 article, the NYT said it “might be the worst in the hemisphere, except for the one with Cuba.”

His biographer described Morales’ political career and recounted episodes which reveal the sense of humor of the man he chronicled. “I heard him say to a waitress, ‘I would even drink poison from your hands,’ after she asked him if he liked coffee or juice. I listened to him lecture on the difference between llamas and people.”

At first, Sivak, a young man from Argentina, was exhausted by trying to keep up with the Bolivian president’s rigorous schedule. “Morales predicted I wouldn’t be able to handle the pace of his life as president but that I should give it a try,” Sivak said:

“After the first week I had altitude sickness and I was hooked up to an oxygen machine in a pharmacy in La Paz. The schedule, which started at 5 o’clock in the morning and ended at 12 o’clock at night, had included 22 airplanes and helicopters and more than 40 events in places that do not appear on school maps. President Morales enjoyed asking the pilots to do pirouettes because he knows how scared I am of small planes.”

In a more serious tone, Sivak said Morales’ landslide victory (64% of the vote) in the last presidential election “deserved a more complex read” than the one it earned from critics of the Bolivian regime, who said it stemmed simply from Morales’ support base in the indigenous community, which makes up more than 60 percent of the population.

Sivak said, “I was deeply moved with what I saw in these years [...] The decline of power of the old elites that ruled the country for so many years and the resurgence of the poor majorities.” He urged people in the U.S. to view Morales as a leader in his own right–more than just an extension of Chavez who has “emotional ties” to the indigenous community.

Republished from Feet In 2 Worlds

Bolivia: The Lessons of Potosí

Emily Achtenberg

Recent massive protests in Potosí, a traditional bastion of support for Bolivia’s Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) government, have confronted President Evo Morales with perhaps the most significant challenge of his second term in office. Unlike past regional revolts led by conservative opposition forces in Santa Cruz, Potosí represents a new type of regional economic conflict led by coalitions of popular organizations demanding to be part of Bolivia’s “process of change.” These protests are taking place in the context of a new federalism that is raising expectations as well as demands for political accountability.

From July 29 to August 16 this summer, the city of Potosí (population 160,000) and its surrounding region were paralyzed by civic strikes, road and rail blockades, and demonstrations shutting down virtually all commerce and transportation. Production ground to a halt, including the powerful mining sector which generates a third of Bolivia’s export revenues. Hundreds of foreign tourists were stranded. Shortages of food, fuel, and medicine reached crisis proportions.

Initiated by the Potosí Civic Committee, the protest grew to encompass a broad range of popular organizations including indigenous peasant associations, neighborhood councils, and mining cooperatives. An estimated 2,000 protesters, including Potosí’s MAS governor, several of its elected MAS federal representatives, and Potosí natives in five other departments, participated in hunger strikes. Mass mobilizations (mostly peaceful) included up to 100,000 protesters.

The protesters demanded increased government investment in the region for long-promised economic development projects, including an international airport, a cement factory, a metal processing plant, roads and infrastructure, and the preservation of Cerro Rico (the mountain where Potosí’s world-famous silver mines are located, now in danger of collapse due to centuries of over-exploitation). They also sought resolution of an inter-departmental boundary dispute with neighboring Oruro, following the discovery of significant limestone deposits — used for cement — in the contested area.

The government responded that many of the demands were already being addressed — for example, a recent law made the Potosí airport a national priority — and that others (such as the boundary dispute) reflected age-old conflicts that could not be resolved any time soon. It blamed Potosí’s popular independent mayor René Joaquino for instigating the protests. Joaquino ran against Morales in the last presidential election, and has been charged by the government with illegally purchasing used cars for the city during a prior mayoral term.

Five attempts at negotiation failed when the government refused to send representatives to Potosí unless the strike was lifted. For their part, the protesters insisted on meeting only with Morales. Morales accused neoliberal and rightwing opposition forces of conspiring to use the protests to “subvert the president . . . and (Bolivia’s) process of change.” Nevertheless, the government did not repress the protests.

On August 14, protest leaders and government ministers finally convened in Sucre, and a settlement was reached and endorsed by popular assembly within 48 hours. The protesters declared victory, lifted the blockades, and welcomed their negotiators back to Potosí with a massive celebration.

While the protesters gained important government promises in recognition of their demands, the situation is far from resolved. Next steps, for the most part, will depend on the work of multi-party commissions set up to address each issue. In addition to questions of financing and implementation, significant legal obstacles remain. The resolution of the boundary dispute, for example, will require new legislation, and the metal processing plant can’t open until the government completes arbitration to oust the existing transnational owner.

Since the settlement, the rhetoric and charges have continued to escalate on both sides. The government has dismissed the conflict as “fabricated,” and accused protest leaders of sacrificing the population of Potosí at great economic cost to their own department ($12 million in mining royalties plus foregone tourist revenues). The MAS deputies who joined the protests have been isolated by the party leadership and branded as “traitors.”

Joaquino has been suspended as mayor, as required by a new MAS law targeting elected officials with pending legal charges. He is the fifth opposition mayor or governor to be suspended. Some protest leaders, furious at the continued attempts to discredit the mobilization, have announced that Morales will not be welcome at Potosí’s civic anniversary celebration in November.

It’s no accident that this conflict has occurred in a resource rich but socially impoverished region, where the legacy of colonial and transnational exploitation of local mineral wealth (principally silver and tin) remains deeply entrenched. During the protests, indigenous peasants shut down the electricity-generating plant that provides power to the giant San Cristóbal mine, whose Japanese conglomerate owner, Sumitomo, exports $1 billion annually while paying Potosí only $38 million in royalties. Sumitomo also extracts 640,000 liters of underground water per day free of charge, subject to an existing contract that the Morales government has not yet found a way to restructure.

Thanks to rising mineral prices, Potosí now has the highest economic growth rate in Bolivia; yet 60% of its population lives in extreme poverty. It also contains 50% of the world’s lithium reserves, an untapped resource which Morales has promised to industrialize for the benefit of Potosí and the Bolivian people, thus far without success. Close to 80% of Potosí’s voters supported Evo Morales in the last election, and are frustrated with the slow pace of change.

The new “federalism” promoted by MAS, now enshrined in the Constitution in the form of overlapping departmental, municipal, regional, and indigenous “autonomies,” has also raised expectations for local public works, services, and jobs — expectations that the government has encouraged, but has been unable to meet. Departmental autonomy is redefining long-contested boundaries and encouraging claims that may enhance jurisdictional resources.

The political defeat of conservative opposition forces in Bolivia, as evidenced by Morales’ 64% vote in December, the MAS party’s success in winning 2/3 control of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, and the significant MAS gains in last April’s gubernatorial and departmental assembly contests, has also empowered Bolivia’s social sectors to assume a more critical stance toward the government. When Morales was under attack during his first presidential term, the social movements closed ranks in his defense.

But in 2010, the government has clashed with trade unions over wage increases, with rival peasant groups in Caranavi over the site of a citrus processing plant, and with lowland indigenous groups demanding increased political representation and measures to strengthen indigenous autonomies—all former bastions of MAS support. Morales’s current tendency to attribute every popular challenge to foreign or domestic opposition forces intent on destabilizing the government is helping to exacerbate this friction.

In the case of Potosí, the diversity of interests and motivations behind the sustained protest has been a topic of debate. As Bolivian analyst Carlos Alejandro Lara Ugarte notes, supporters of Mayor Joaquino, outraged at the MAS government’s charges against him which they perceive as politically motivated, may indeed have sparked the conflict as a tactic to delay his removal. But, he argues, popular organizations soon became the key protagonists in the struggle, replacing partisan demands with a regional economic agenda. Whether deliberate or misguided, the government’s continued misreading of the conflict as purely partisan led to an intransigent posture that further radicalized the protest.

In any case, unlike the conservative Santa Cruz protestors, whose demands for “autonomy” during Morales’s first term masked an agenda to retain control by local elites of land and natural resources, Potosí rebels--mobilized under the slogan “Potosí federal!”--want to be “active participants in the ‘good life’ (vivir bien) that Evo Morales promises.” After centuries of exploitation, notes political analyst Pablo Stefanoni, “today they would be satisfied with an airport and a few factories.” As Julio Quiñonez, president of Potosí’s cooperative miners’ federation, explains: “We support President Morales, but we can’t give up our regional claims, which are very important.”

Clearly, the popular redistributive benefits programs conceived in Morales’ first term (for the elderly, pregnant women, and schoolchildren) are no longer enough to satisfy the rising expectations of grassroots constituencies that now feel entitled to hold the government accountable. Whether the MAS government can find a way to accommodate the legitimate demands and expectations of social and regional sectors without the continued polarization that truly subversive forces are bound to exploit remains to be seen.

Emily Achtenberg is an urban planner and a NACLA research associate.

Republished from NACLA

Bolivia: Evo Morales faces new challenges

A series of problems and challenges are facing the Bolivian government of President Evo Morales, the country’s first indigenous head of state, and the process of change it leads has emerged. There has been a range of commentary on these challenges. Green Left Weekly publishes these two pieces as part of our ongoing coverage of the Latin American revolution. The article below is by Eduardo Paz Rada, editor of Bolivian-based magazine Patria Grande. It has been translated by Federico Fuentes.

* * *

Following the political and social transformations undertaken over the last five years by the Evo Morales government with the huge, active support of Bolivia’s popular sectors that have mobilised around their demands since 2000, the political map has radically changed.

This has generated a new correlation of political forces battling over control of national and regional decision-making bodies and the state apparatus.

The new term of the president and his party, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), began in January. It kicked off with the great advantage of Morales’ electoral triumph with almost 64% of the vote in the presidential poll, and MAS winning majority control over the legislative assembly.

The conservative and neoliberal parties and organisations suffered a definitive defeat.

Yet, there are new elements emerging in a panorama that is beginning to show signs of big problems.

These include pressure applied on the government through new forms of social and political action, the lack of a national strategy and government errors — together with the growth of demands from diverse regions and sectors.

Some of the problems have been provoked by sectors close to the government.

Opposition has formed into two large blocs:

• The right-wing governors of Santa Cruz, Tarija and Beni, the mayors of six of the nine capitals and conservative senators and deputies. These represent oligarchic sectors and have a program of radical confrontation against the government, which they deem totalitarian, while promoting representative democracy and economic freedom.

• Some social and indigenous movements, communitarian organisations, trade unions, neighbourhood federations, ex-allies such as the Movement of Those Without Fear (MSM), MAS dissidents and groups that demanded attention to their particular demands and who believe the government no longer represents them.

Since 2000, the popular forces have mobilised against neoliberal policies and the traditional parties, producing in 2003 the largest popular uprising (known as the “Gas War”). Morales emerged as a leader with a program of nationalisation of Bolivia’s gas reserves, allowing a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution and fighting corruption.

The nationalisation of gas and oil reserves in 2006was converted into a renegotiation of terms of contracts with the multinational corporations.

Rent from gas exports has allowed the government to implement social benefits and carry out actions to support vulnerable sectors of Bolivian society, while industrialisation projects have been left behind.

Meanwhile, the constituent assembly produced a new constitution that included departmental, regional, indigenous and municipal autonomy. This generated an exaggerated expectation throughout the country for changes beyond the government’s capacity to provide.

The recognition of 36 fictitious “indigenous nations”, promoted by NGOs and European foundations that advised the assembly, have not only amplified these expectations but also created the danger of national disintegration.

This tendency, rather than promoting a rapprochement and common strengthening among the peoples, tends to strengthen divisive forces that fragment the nation under the slogan of administrating “free territories”.

Morales has actively taken part in the anti-imperialist bloc Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas (ALBA — established by Cuba and Venezuela) and the Union of South American Nations (Unasur — involving all South American nations) with firm anti-imperialist speeches.

Regional Latin American alliances and defence of the coca leaf, an important agricultural produce, in the face of interventionist policies of the United States, have radicalised government positions. This led to a diplomatic crisis and the expulsion of US ambassador Philip Goldberg in 2008, which has still not been resolved.

Nevertheless, finance capital, bankers and agro industrialists, along with oil and mining transnationals, remain in Bolivia and are reaping important profits exploiting natural resources, exporting them as primary materials, monopolising land and controlling the earnings and economic resources of the country.

Various questions have arisen regarding the government’s policies and strategy, the characterisation of the process and its economic, social and political priorities. This has opened up controversies, despite Morales’ silence on these issues.

Tendencies within and outside the government have generated an ideological debate on the nature of the process. It involves those who say the process remains in a framework of a liberal economic and political project through to those who say that we are dealing with a process that is “communitarian”.

Some propose a form of “21st century socialism”, while others put forward state capitalism as a necessary phase to consolidate national unity. As part of the nation building perspective, there has been the creation of a new entity entrusted with carrying out big regional projects under the direct control of the president.

“Nationalism”, “populism”, “Latin-Americanism”, and “indigenism” are among the labels used to define the Morales government, which combines Morales’ strong leadership with the support of social sectors such as the cocaleros, colonisers, peasants, women and neighbourhood councils.

Despite this popular support, the most important decisions are made within his cabinet and team of close collaborators.

Another debate has opened up between pro-industrialists who believe it is essential to increase production through the industrialisation of natural resources, especially oil, mining and forestry, and integrating all the regions via roadways; and the conservationists, who say ecological reserves should be maintained under the administration of indigenous communities.

This has led to a confrontation with NGOs and international groups that question government policies in relation to environmentally damaging industrialisation, such as occurred in at the World Summit of the Peoples in Defence of Mother Earth in Cochabamba in April.

The government faces important challenges in a situation where its popular support has fallen and its weaknesses become apparent with the concessions its makes to foreign capital, delays in national projects and the absence of an integral vision.

The government enjoys support among indigenous and peasant sectors, but policies of agricultural development, self-sufficiency and food sovereignty are missing. Meanwhile, the government has halted its agrarian reform program that redistributes the land of large landowners.

Industrialisation projects for important gas, lithium, iron and other mineral reserves continue to be delayed. This means multinationals continue operating within the framework of the traditional model of exporting primary materials.

There are important changes and reforms in the social, cultural and judicial structures, but those relating to the economy are absent. This is slowly becoming Morales’ Achilles heel.

Bolivia: Behind the ‘MAS crisis’

Pablo Stefanoni

Many analysts have rushed to give their opinions regarding the “crisis of the MAS” and its consequences.

Yet, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS — the party of President Evo Morales) has always been in crisis — if by crisis we mean internal disputes for power and the existence of personal interests.

Despite this permanent “crisis”, the MAS was able to cohere the majority of plebeian sectors through a kind of corporative alliance.

Groups completely dispersed in the 1980s and early ’90s began to come together in 1995 with the formation of the MAS — groups only the Morales’ leadership could keep united.

But divisions, expulsions and mutual accusations have been the rule throughout the history of the MAS.

In 2004, Filemon Escobar, considered a MAS ideologue, was expelled to the consternation of many militants.

In 2005, there were hunger strikes at MAS campaign offices to demand candidate. These were broken up under the threat of expelling the buscapegas (those purely seeking jobs).

We only have to look at how MAS candidates were elected to conclude that, as its own militants say, it is “a madhouse”.

But such fights — and they existed in abundance in 2009 — did not stop Morales obtaining almost 64% of the vote for president that year.

The truth is that since 2000, the people have mobilised through their union and neighbourhood organisations. The MAS has functioned as an electoral structure, and — in some ways — an employment agency for many militants.

That is why various analysts aim to demonstrate that the MAS is just like the rest of the parties and nothing has changed.

But, as in all areas, the forces that seek to transform society drag with them an overwhelming conservative inertia. The MAS is no exception — rather it is the textbook case.

But what can be done in this situation? The vice-president spoke of a n ideological drive in the MAS. This is something that does not appear easy in light of the fact that the membership tends to be more corporative than programmatic, beyond certain firm ideas about the state redistributing wealth, a certain anti-imperialism and a more or less defined rejection of internal colonialism.

The MAS was formed as the “political instrument” of the indigenous movements. Despite internal criticisms, there does not appear to be many who want to “re-found” the MAS.

[Translated by Federico Fuentes. Pablo Stefanoni is editor of the Bolivian edition of Le Monde Diplomatique.]

Bolivia Nationalizes Private Stake in State Cement Company

EFE. September 1, 2010

LA PAZ - Bolivian President Evo Morales announced Wednesday the nationalization of the 33 percent of state-owned cement maker Fancesa that is in private hands.

The decree signed by Morales in the southern city of Sucre, where Fancesa is headquartered, transfers the stake held by private cement company Soboce to the provincial government of Chuquisaca.

The majority owner of Soboce, Bolivia's largest cement maker, is opposition politician and former presidential candidate Samuel Doria Medina, while Mexican-based GCC holds 47 percent.

From its founding in 1959 until the mid-1980s, Fancesa was owned in equal parts by the city of Sucre, San Francisco Xavier University and the Bolivian government's development agency.

The CBF handed its 33 percent stake to the Chuquisaca provincial government, which eventually transferred its interest to Soboce in a transaction that Morales now describes as "illegal."

Labor and grassroots groups have been clamoring for the return of the Fancesa stake to the provincial government, the socialist president said Wednesday.

Bolivia investigating mining subsidiary of Japan's Sumitomo

LA PAZ--Bolivia's tax service has launched an investigation into whether the San Cristobal mining company, a subsidiary of Japan's Sumitomo, has met its tax obligations, officials said Tuesday. “We are conducting an analysis of all of San Cristobal's documents,” tax authority president Roberto Ugarte said, according to remarks reported by Catholic radio station Fides

Ugarte declined to specify why the company was under investigation, but said any such probe “is an indication that there have been problems with the company.”

Over the last five years, San Cristobal has spent US$1.5 billion in operations to mine southern Potosi department's rich zinc and silver deposits.

Republished from China Post