Bolivia in Crisis! Another Military Coup in Latin America

by Henry Lowendorf, GNH Peace Council

US-supported rightwing fanatics just orchestrated a military coup against the constitutional government of Bolivia headed by Evo Morales. We must view this coup as one in a long train of US-engineered coups in Bolivia, throughout Latin America and the world.

Bolivian voters on Oct. 20 gave President Evo Morales a substantial plurality, 47.1% of the vote, enough to forestall a runoff, but the opposition refused to accept the results. Rightwing opposition gangs torched the homes of Morales and other government leaders, destroyed government buildings, assaulted a socialist female mayor. Then military generals demanded Morales step down. He and some other leaders fled to Mexico, others took refuge in the Mexican embassy.

“Bolivian coup leader Luis Fernando Camacho [can be described] as a far-right multi-millionaire who arose from fascist movements in the [largely white, affluent fossil-fuel rich] Santa Cruz region, where the US has encouraged separatism.”

“Bolivia’s self-proclaimed president Jeanine Áñez Chavez is on records as having said, ‘I dream of a Bolivia free of satanic indigenous rites. The city is not for Indians; let them go back to the highlands or the Chaco.’ Apart from everything, this was a racist coup.” President Trump immediately recognized Chavez.

WHY DID THIS COUP OCCUR NOW?

Bolivia has been one of the poorest countries in South America. The election in 2006 of Evo Morales began to change that. His government is of course not above criticism. But the military deposed him without a doubt at the instigation of the US 1%, not because of his failures but because of his successes.

Morales is the first indigenous leader of Bolivia – indeed any American state – a country whose majority is indigenous. Since Morales’ first victory in 2006

  • “…Poverty plummeted from a boggling 60% to 35% by 2018, with those in extreme poverty declining from nearly 38% to 15% in the same period.”
  • “Bolivia has seen per capita income increase threefold and has rapidly transitioned from a low-income country to a lower-middle-income country in the eyes of the World Bank. Inflation and the exchange rate have remained exceptionally stable. And all the while, Bolivian levels of inequality went from well above the Latin American average to well below it.”
  • “Redistributed [land] to landless peasants. He placed the natural gas, oil, telecommunications and electricity industries under state control. And he continually raised the minimum wage, which has tripled since he entered office.”
  • “Dramatically increased social spending. He poured money into building roads, schools, and hospitals, an expansion of infrastructure that was particularly transformative in the countryside.”
  • Bolivia contains the world’s largest reserves of the mineral lithium that is used in electronics and batteries. Morales nationalized Bolivia’s incredibly valuable lithium deposits. The rich despise the idea that the vast expected income from sales of lithium would under Morales be fairly distributed to benefit all Bolivians.
  • The corporate media have, as always, described this coup according to the perspective of the billionaires.
  • President Donald Trump has threatened Venezuela and Nicaragua with similar coups.

RESISTANCE:

“Huge demonstrations in el Alto, La Paz [the capital], Cochabamba and other places, thousands and thousands of indigenous people in the streets proudly displaying the Wiphala [checkered rainbow flag]. Some police and military appear to have disobeyed their officers and joined the pro-Evo demonstrations.

The self-proclaimed President Jeanine Áñez Chavez has legalized free-fire zones and military forces have been shooting demonstrators from bridges and helicopters.

“The Bolivian congress, in which Evo’s MAS party has a two-thirds majority, is refusing to recognize the coup government. [It has] chosen one of [its] own to head the Congress.”

Trade union leaders internationally, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, have denounced the coup and the military’s role. They urge an end to political repression and violence. Political leaders Bernie Sanders, Ilhan Omar, Alexandra Ocasio Cortez in the US and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK have denounced the coup. Too many others, including our own Congressional representatives, are silent.

ACTION:

  • Hands Off Bolivia; Hands Off Venezuela; Hands Off Nicaragua; Hands Off Cuba; No Sanctions, No Wars.
  • Letters to the Editor or Op-eds.
  • Utilize social media to call for the coup to be reversed and Morales safely reinstalled.
  • Call Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro: Condemn the coup, begin an investigation into the US role: (202) 224-3121.

References: The Nation; The Grayzone; The Tricontinental; The People’s World; Fair.org. For exact issues and websites, please contact the author at gnhpeacecouncil@gmail.com.

Retooling the Connecticut War Economy Nov. 9

by Henry Lowendorf, Greater New Haven Peace Council

We are totally accustomed to Connecticut’s two Senators and five Congressmembers crowing every time the Penta-gon doles billions of dollars to Connecticut’s merchants of death to build new killing machines.

It’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs. At one time CT had a hugely diverse manufacturing base. CT manufacturing now depends on subsidies from the Pentagon.

Similarly, they rationalize huge military spending, now 69% of the annual budget they vote on and the President signs. That leaves 31% to be split among transportation, labor, health, education, housing, environment and so on. CT’s governor and most state legislators regularly applaud every “gun” that is made here.

These electeds argue “national security.” They never admit that “national security” really refers to the security of giant corporate profits. The U.S. corporate media continually cheerlead war-making and weapons spending. They rarely ask what the downsides are in pouring so much of our national treasure into war.

Connecticut’s cities are running on empty. State government is desperate for funds. CT, one of the richest states in the richest country in human history, maintains the greatest wealth gap in the nation.

UMass studies show that every job funded for manufacturing weapons displaces two jobs creating civilian goods and services. Weapons spending is a job destroyer.

The Pentagon is the world’s biggest polluter and contributor to greenhouse gases. The climate-scorching crisis demands that we convert from fossil fuels to sustainable energy. The crisis demands that we move the money to civilian needs. To save ourselves and the planet from these two scourges we must retool the weapons and fossil-fuel industries into a green-peace economy.

Please join the conversation and design actions at the 4th Annual CT Peace Conference: Retooling the CT War Economy: How We Can Build Good, Green Jobs & Infrastructure for Human Needs & Peace.

Keynote: CodePink Co-Founder Medea Benjamin

Panelists: Miriam Pemberton, Dave Ionno, Mitch Linck, Jeremy Brecher, Denise Tillman, Henry Lowendorf, Bahman Azad.
Saturday, November 9, 12 – 4 p.m. Free and open to all, lunch provided. Middlesex Community College, Chapman Hall, 100 Training Hill Rd., Middletown, CT.

Conference Information: skrevisky@mxcc.edu, Steve: (860) 759-3699.

CT Peace & Solidarity Coalition, peacect.org.

Peace and Fact-Finding Delegation visit Syria

by Henry Lowendorf, Co-Chair, GNH Peace Council

From July 24 to July 30, I co-led a delegation of peace activists and journalists to Syria. In talking with leaders of many NGOs and government ministers, we learned that the vast majority of Syrians support their government and the Syrian Arab Army, which protect them from mercenaries that terrorize the populations they control and which are paid for by Saudi Arabia and Qatar and armed by the CIA. The CIA provides supplies and free passage into Syria through Turkey and Jordan. Syrians believe in, and the UN Charter supports, their right to determine their destiny without interference from the United States and its allies.

syria-mapMy co-leader, Gerry Condon, vice president of Veterans for Peace, said this: “Almost everything we read about Syria in the media is wrong…The reality is that the U.S. government is supporting armed extremist groups who are terrorizing the Syrian people and trying to destroy Syria’s secular state.”

“In order to hide that ugly reality and push violent regime change,” continued Condon, “the U.S. is conducting a psychological warfare campaign to demonize Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. This is a classic tactic that veterans have seen over and over. It is shocking, however, to realize how willingly the media repeat this propaganda, and how many people believe it to be true.”

The Syrians we spoke with, especially Grand Mufti Hassoun and Orthodox Bishop Luca, refuse to see themselves split into narrow groups such as Sunni and Shia, or Muslim and Christian, or Kurdish or Arabic-speaking. This U.S. and Europe formulation is used to divide Syrians as it has with Afghans, Iraqis, and Libyans in order to weaken and conquer Syria. The Grand Mufti told us he is the Mufti of 23 million Syrians, the full Syrian population. The Bishop agreed.

The U.S. peace movement’s premier responsibility is to stop our government’s interference in Syria, its long-held policy of “regime change,” overthrowing the Syrian government to install a subservient client. We must allow Syrians to retain their national sovereignty. Once the foreign aggression ends, Syrians will decide who governs Syria.

For more information, call Henry Lowendorf at (203) 389-9547 or e-mail grnhpeacecouncil@gmail.com.

ACT to Get Congress to Support the Iran Agreement

by Henry Lowendorf, Greater New Haven Peace Council

Prompt action is needed to move Senator Blumenthal to support the Iran agreement and to counter the opposition he is hearing from constituents. At least $20 million is being spent by AIPAC to oppose the agreement. Specific actions are proposed below. A Senate vote will take place in early September.
In a meeting Aug. 10, Blumenthal said he will vote for or against the Iran agreement based only on facts. He’s still gathering them. Blumenthal states he will take a course to avoid war. He says he is listening to his constituents – and to his credit he spent an hour with our delegation.

We don’t have to be disarmament experts to readily see that the President is right: either we accept this agreement or we will see Israeli and US war hawks pushing for an attack on Iran. They have been calling for a war on Iran for decades. The war hawks disliked the agreement before it was signed, before they saw it, before it was negotiated. In Congress. This bellicosity comes largely, but not exclusively, from Republicans, who also want to sink anything progressive coming from the Obama White House. They are bombarding our representatives with calls to stop the Iran Agreement.

Whatever we think of the Iranian government and its policies, Iran consistently every year since 1974 has called for a nuclear-weapons free Middle East. The US, Israel and a very few allies have opposed such a zone. Currently only Israel and the US have nuclear arsenals in the region.

The intelligence and disarmament agencies state that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. Iran’s clerical leaders have continually stated that possessing nuclear weapons is a sin. For over 200 years Iran has attacked no other country. The same cannot be said for the US or Israel.

The peace agreement, a diplomatic success, is the surest way to prevent another escalation of war in the Middle East. The war hawks want diplomacy to fail. If a policy of diplomacy rather than war is to be given a chance, then we must support this agreement. 29 nuclear physicists, including 4 Nobel laureates, wrote Obama supporting the agreement. Ambassadors, world leaders and the UN support it. HELP this peace agreement. Call Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s office to support the agreement: (860) 258-6940. Urge friends to do so. We must not miss this chance to prove diplomacy works.