Friday, September 19, 2008


Photo of Bolivians by Jerry Daykin

Stephen Zunes, at Foreign Policy in Focus, on 18 September 2008, wrote about The United States and Bolivia

Stephen Zunes is professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco

Among the points made by Zunes:

1. Reportedly the US supports the wealthy, right-wing landowners and business leaders causing the violence in eastern Bolivia.

2. Recently expelled U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg met some of these right-wing leaders a week before the most recent outbreak of violence.

3. News reports say the U.S. embassy asked Peace Corps volunteers, and an American Fulbright scholar, to take part in espionage.

4. Presidential Minister Juan Ramón Quintana has accused the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) of giving money to right-wing opposition leaders.

Photo of La Paz, Bolivia by Björn Eriksson at Flickr

Some History

1. In 1952, the left-leaning Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (MNR) came to power, replacing a right wing military regime.

The MNR wanted ordinary Bolivians to benefit from the countries natural resources, in which U.S. investors had big interests.

The US forced the MNR government to change its policies.

Bolivia depended on the U.S. to process its tin ore and provide certain imports.

Bolivia was forced to sign an agreement to allow more U.S. investment in Bolivia.

The US forced the Bolivian government to freeze of wages and cut spending on education and social welfare.

2. The United States supported the dictatorship of René Barrientos, who came to power in a 1964 military coup.

The CIA and U.S. Special Forces suppressed a leftist peasant uprising that followed.

3. Nixon tried to topple the leftist army officer Juan José Torres who came to power in 1970.

The Nixon government reportedly helped the rightist general Hugo Bánzer Suárez come to power.

Thousands of suspected leftists were then executed.

4. In 1982, the left-leaning Hernán Siles Zuazo became president. The United States refused economic aid until the government brought in neoliberal economic policies.

The strict austerity programs insisted on by the United States and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) did not help the poor. Two-thirds of Bolivians live in poverty.

5. In 2005, Evo Morales became president. He wants to help the poor.


1 comment:

paul said...

From cepr's mark weisbrot's interview with newsweek:

How much influence do eastern Bolivia's large estate  owners have?  What kind of pressure do opposition groups exert in Bolivia?

Quite a bit. That's what this conflict is really about. You have the most concentrated land ownership in almost the entire world in  Bolivia, with around two thirds of the land owned by six tenths of  one percent―not even one percent―of the landowners. Obviously Evo Morales ran on a platform of land reform. He is not talking about confiscating huge amounts of land, but there is going to be some redistribution. There is the hydrocarbon revenue, which goes disproportionately to the Media Luna states with the opposition governors. So those are the two big economic reasons for this conflict.

If there's one thing elites can't stand, its greed. Politics of Envy I think they call it

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