Andean Theater

Bolivia: Evo appoints rads to cabinet

You can almost feel blood pressures rising on Wall Street and in corporate board rooms. From Dow Jones Newswire, Jan. 23:

Bolivia Pres Names Cabinet; Marxist In Energy Post
Bolivian President Evo Morales on Monday announced his 16-member Cabinet, which includes a Marxist journalist to drive Bolivia's energy policy and a street protest leader to head the new Ministry of Water.

The appointment of Andres Soliz Rada as Minister of Hydrocarbons could signal a tough fight for the multinational gas and oil companies operating in Bolivia.

Bolivia: Bechtel surrenders

Days before the historic inauguration of Evo Morales in Bolivia, the Andean nation scored another victory—in its struggle against Bechtel, the California engineering giant which had sued the impoverished nation before a World Bank trade court to demand compensation for a water-system privatization contract cancelled by a popular uprising in 2000. Apparently sensing the turning tide, Bechtel has withdrawn its suit. This Jan. 19 account from The Democracy Center in Cochabamba:

Bolivia: Evo celebrates inauguration at Tiwanaku ruins

Evo Morales was sworn in as Bolivia's president before assembled foreign dignitaries at the congressional building in La Paz Jan. 22, dressed in a sports jacket and white shirt but no tie. One day before, he celebrated with his indigenous supporters at the pre-Columbian ruins of Tiwanaku, dressed in full indigenous regalia, including a head-dress embroidered with the wiphala, symbol of the Quechua-Aymara peoples. This marked the first time that Bolivia's traditional indigenous authorities, known as mallkus (condors), handed over a staff of command and ceremonial vestments to a Bolivian president-elect. (IPS, Jan. 19)

Venezuelan intellectuals speak out on anti-Semitism flap

From the AP, via Israel's Ha'aretz, Jan. 22:

CARACAS - Hundreds of Venezuelan intellectuals expressed "shock and consternation" in a public condemnation Saturday of allegedly anti-Semitic remarks made recently by President Hugo Chavez.

Peru-Venezuela tensions as Chavez hails Humala

The lines are drawn ever more sharply in Latin America. Peru could be the next to join the growing anti-imperialist bloc if the indigenist/populist candidate Ollanta Humala takes the presidency in this year's election. And Venezuela's Hugo Chavez has wasted no time in showing whose side he is on. From Reuters, Jan. 13:

Bolivia: Evo woos China on gas investment

From AP, via the New York Times, Jan. 10:

President-elect Evo Morales of Bolivia met with President Hu Jintao of China in Beijing and called China an "ideological ally," a day after he invited it to develop Bolivia's vast gas reserves. China has been developing links with Latin American nations as sources of fuel and raw materials and as markets for its exports. Mr. Hu promised to encourage "strong and prestigious" Chinese companies to invest in Bolivia, the official New China News Agency reported. On Sunday, Mr. Morales met with Tang Jiaxuan, the Chinese state councilor, and invited China to help with his country's gas industry after he carries out plans to nationalize its reserves.

Chile: Mapuche community attacked

On Dec. 21, police agents from Chile's militarized Carabineros Special Forces attacked the Mapuche community of Juan Paillalef in Cunco commune in the 9th region (Araucania). The attack came as community members were protesting a decision by the Ministry of Public Works to widen and pave a road through Mapuche land without following required legal procedures. Police used tear gas, clubs and firearms against community members and badly beat lonko (chief) Juana Rosa Calfunao Paillalef; some children were among those injured in the raid.


from Weekly News Update on the Americas


Early on Dec. 8, a delegation of 12 cooperative members from the autonomous worker-controlled Bauen hotel were violently ousted from the Buenos Aires municipal legislature as they sought to attend a debate concerning their dispute with the hotel's former owners. A larger group of Bauen workers had been waiting for eight hours outside the legislature, but when the debate finally began at around 2:30 AM, only 12 of the 60 workers remaining outside were allowed to enter the chambers, even though the sessions are supposed to be open to the public.

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