by Jason Miller
While he may be dead in the corporal sense, the spirit of Simon Bolivar continues to wage the struggle for freedom from oppression. Hugo Chavez is perhaps the most familiar incarnation of Bolivar's élan vital as he defies the neocolonial policies of the United States, a nation which has supplanted the European colonial empires as looters of Latin American bounty. Bolivar's spiritual essence also burns brightly in Evo Morales, another leader of the poor and oppressed in Latin America. Barring a CIA-orchestrated assasination or sabotage of the election process, in December Morales will be the next democratically-elected president of Bolivia. And deservedly so.
The only thing they have to fear is fear itself....or is there something more?
As they have with Chavez, the United States government and its lapdogs in the mainstream media have vilified Morales. Morales and Chavez are both portrayed as "threats" to the United States and have been characterized as "enemies". It is mind-boggling that the leaders of the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the history of humanity can view these men or their tiny nations (neither of which have the military might to overpower the state of Rhode Island) as legitimate threats. Is the US power elite suffering from delusional paranoia? Actually, their fears are well-founded, but one needs to analyze the situation a bit more closely to discern the root cause of their trepidations.
The "Least of my Brethren"
Hugo Chavez has publicly castigated the United States (and Bush II in particular) on several occasions. Drawing calls for his assasination from "respected US Christian leader" Pat Robertson, Chavez has clearly stated his intention to use his vast petroleum resources as a geopolitical weapon against the United States. He drew thunderous applause at the UN for his speech in which he maligned the United States government and its policies. As the democratically-elected president of Venezuela, a member of the indigenous population, a survivor of a US-sponsored coup in 2002, and the winner of a recall referendum in 2004, Chavez has utilized his nation's rich oil reserves to wage a war on poverty. He has used oil revenues to provide schools, medical care, and basic necessities at subsidized prices to the 80% of Venezuelans who live below the poverty line. He has also instituted land reforms to provide impoverished farmers an opportunity at ownership.
Aligning himself closely with Fidel Castro, a man who has been a thorn in the collective sides of the United States ruling elite for years, Chavez has drawn further ire from US leaders. Since 1959, Castro has bedeviled the US government as the Cuban leader who deposed Fulgencio Batista, a ruthless dictator whom the US government supported. While ruling Cuba, Batista widened the wealth gap to a chasm (sound familiar?) and dispatched his death squads, which captured, tortured, and murdered thousands of "Leftists". Castro is certainly no saint, but Cuba was not exactly a paradise under America's proxy either.
Trading oil for the use of many of Cuba's superbly-trained physicians, Chavez has parlayed his relationship with Castro to an advantage for the poor of his nation. Ironically, the infinitely benevolent and wise leaders of the United States rejected offers of help from both Chavez and Castro during Hurricane Katrina. While the Bush regime spurned overtures of help from our "enemies", over a thousand Americans died in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as a result of criminal neglect and incompetence on the part of a US government now geared almost solely to represent and sustain the interests of the wealthy, corporations and the military industrial complex.
Chavez is not alone as the revolution gains momentum
Meanwhile, in Bolivia, a man named Evo Morales represents another incarnation of the spirit of Simon Bolivar as he fights to squelch US imperial interests in his nation. Standing on the brink of winning the presidency in the elections scheduled for December of 2005, Morales represents the next link in the chain of fierce Latin American resistance to US exploitation of their people and resources.
Juan Evo Morales Ayma was born in 1959 in Orinco to a family of indigenous Quechuans, but moved to Chapare province in the 1980's to cultivate coca leaf. Growing coca leaf is a practice dating back to the Incan Empire. While the Indigenous people of Bolivia, who comprise over 50% of the population, chew coca leaves to ease hunger and make folk medicines, coca leaf is also the primary ingredient in cocaine. As part of its "War on Drugs", the United States began a program in the 1990's to eradicate coca production. In 1998, Plan Dignity, a barbaric and violent US-sponsored effort, resulted in the elimination of nearly 80% of coca production and left the campesinos in Bolivia with no economically viable alternative crops to cultivate. Supplied and supported by the United States, the Expeditionary Task Force, a paramilitary unit which the locals called "America's Mercenaries", reportedly engaged in violence and murder. Just imagine if Canada financed paramilitary forces in the United States which wiped out 80% of the production of Sudafed and Iodine because they are used in the manufacture of crystal meth. How long would Americans stand for that?
In response to the intrusive, oppressive policies of the United States and its puppet Bolivian president, Hugo Banzer, Evo Morales emerged as a leader of the Cocaleros, an opposition movement comprised primarily of coca growers. His support in Chapare and Carrasco de Cochabamba was strong enough that he was elected to the national Congress in Bolivia in 1997 by the widest margin amongst the 68 Congresspeople who won in that election.
In the words of Morales:
'There is a unanimous defence of coca because the coca leaf is becoming the banner for national unity, a symbol of national unity in defence of our dignity. Since coca is a victim of the United States, as coca growers we are also victims of the United States, but then we rise up to question these policies to eradicate coca.
'Now is the moment to see the defence of coca as the defence of all natural resources, just like hydrocarbon, oil, gas; and this consciousness is growing. That is why it is an issue of national unity.'
As a leader with widespread popular support, and a powerful force within the Movement to Socialism (MAS) party, Morales began to broaden his agenda beyond that of supporting the cultivation of coca. Like Chavez in Venezuela, Morales has emerged as a champion of the poor and oppressed, and by default, a fierce opponent of the blatantly corrupt plutocracy in Washington DC.
The (Corporate) "American Way"
In early 2000, Morales began intense efforts to stymie the imperial policies of the United States, which enable multinational corporations to engage in obscene exploitation of other nations. Demonstrating the depths of the cruelty of the "free market", neoliberal economic policies which the corporatocracy of the United States imposes on other nations, a large multi-national corporation called Aguas de Tanari was on the verge of purchasing the water works in Cochabamba, a Morales strong-hold. Under their business plan, 65% of the locals would not have been able to afford drinking water. Supporting Aguas de Tanari's dreams of imposing nightmares on the people, local laws were passed which criminalized catching and using rain water. Morales and his allies led powerful protests, which included road-blocks, and eventually crushed the despicable effort to inflict misery and suffering to generate profit.
Down, but definitely not out
In early 2002, the Bolivian government issued Supreme Decree 26415, which essentially prohibited the sale of coca-leaf. Riots broke out in Sacaba, which was home to a legal coca market. Four campesinos and three Bolivian soldiers were killed. Pressure from the US embassy led to the removal of Morales from his Congressional seat for his involvement in so called "terrorism" in Sacaba. His removal was later determined to be unconstitutional.
The next round of elections in Bolivia in June of 2002 whisked Morales back into office. In pre-election polling, MAS barely registered with a paltry 4%. However, thanks to powerful opposition to US presence and influence in their nation, 20.94% of Bolivians supported MAS in the election. MAS came in only slightly behind the winning party. Unfortunately for the Bolivian people, they traded one proponent of US policies for another. Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada replaced Jorge Quiroga.
Leave our hydrocarbons alone!
Lozada's allegiance to US interests eventually cost him his presidency. Bolivia possesses vast natural gas reserves, which until the Bolivian Gas War in 2003, were exploited by multi-nationals through neoliberal policies instituted by the United States. In October of 2003, the Bolivian military killed nearly one hundred members of the poor and working class who participated in strikes and created road blocks in opposition to the theft of their nation's precious resources. Lozada resigned and fled the country, leaving his vice-president, Carlos Mesa, to rule Bolivia.
More protests against Bolivian government-enabled exploitation of the nation's hydrocarbon resources erupted in mid-2005. Morales was instrumental in the protests and in the subsequent ouster of Mesa as president. Attacking from yet another angle, Morales (and his increasingly powerful MAS party) also called for the indictments of Mesa, Quiroga, and Lozada for their complicity in partnering with multi-national corporations in plundering Bolivian oil and natural gas (without the approval of the Bolivian Congress).
Take another moment to empathize here
Envision LUKoil of Russia seizing control of the oil industry in Alaska. In return for paying small royalties and minimal taxes, LUKoil gets to pump, keep, and sell as much American oil as it chooses. LUKoil profits handsomely while consuming our resources with minimal return to the United States. Somehow, I do not think that would fly with the American public. Yet our government enables powerful corporations to treat Bolivians in this manner. Maybe that is why they are called free market policies. Hypocrisy be thy name.
As Morales gears up for the impending presidential election in December, his commitment to economic justice and human rights in the face of the oppressive, malevolent agenda of the United States government and its proxies in Bolivia remains clear and strong.
Summarizing his position succinctly, Morales stated,
"The worst enemy of humanity is capitalism. That is what provokes uprisings like our own, a rebellion against a system, against a neoliberal model, which is the representation of a savage capitalism. If the entire world doesn't acknowledge this reality, that the national states are not providing even minimally for health, education and nourishment, then each day the most fundamental human rights are being violated."
To what conclusion do the facts lead?
After careful consideration of the facts, it becomes quite clear why the corporate interests and incredibly wealthy hijackers of our constitutional republic in the United States are so desperate to convince their "electorate" that men like Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales are our "enemies". These men do pose a grave threat. If they maintain their hold on power and continue to advance the Bolivarian Revolution throughout Central and South America, powerful corporations will lose their capacity to commit legal larceny by plundering resources (a practice which leaves much of the Latin American population living in abject poverty). Morales is undermining the charade our government calls the "War on Drugs", which is simply another means of employing military intervention in the region and supporting ruthless leaders who implement policies favorable to the interests of the wealthy elite of the United States.
Yes, Morales is a dangerous man indeed. Like Chavez, he is rising like an ominous storm on the horizon, poised to strike powerful bolts of lightening through the fat wallets of the proponents of neoliberal economic policies (which are modern means of non-violent colonization). The Bush regime has legitimate reasons for fearing these men. They are imminent threats to the health of US cash cows throughout the Latin American region.
Based on the fact that the US government and media are defining Morales and Chavez as our "enemies" because they champion human rights and economic equality for their people in the face of American neocolonialism, I conclude that the Bush regime and many members of our Fourth Estate are morally bankrupt. What is even more distressing about their persistent efforts to convince Americans that Morales and Chavez are Antichrists is the fact that those who stand to "suffer" from this Bolivarian "diabolical scheme" to end US economic exploitation and oppression in Latin America represent a small fraction of the US population.
Who will "feel the pain" if multi-nationals can no longer steal from Latin Americans?
Members of the Bush regime....do you really care?
The 1% of Americans who own 33% of the wealth....yawn
Executives and major share-holders of large corporations.....oh, the pain, the pain
Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez are friends to the majority of Americans, and to most of humanity. Each step of success for the Bolivarian Revolution will be a step in the evolution of humanity toward the fulfillment of the teachings and dreams of Christ, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and other great spiritual leaders throughout human history. Progress for the Bolivarians means regression for the cancer on humanity referred to as neoliberalism, or more appropriately, economic imperial conquest.
So the next time Fox or CNN portrays Morales and Chavez as enemies of the United States, remember that sometimes rooting for the "bad guys" can be a good thing.