Andean Theater


from Weekly News Update on the Americas


In the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 1, some 3,000 to 6,000 residents of campesino communities in northern Peru seized control of the Henry Hills mining camp, owned by the mining company Majaz in El Tambo, Huancabamba province. The campesinos came from Ayabaca and Huacabamba (Piura region) and Paicapampa and San Ignacio (in Jaen province, Cajamarca). Many of them are members of the rondas, campesino self-defense groups formed during the 1980s to combat Maoist rebels. Armed only with sticks and agricultural tools, and a few old back-loading rifles, they quickly surprised and overpowered the camp's guards.


from Weekly News Update on the Americas

On Aug. 4, residents of the southern Bolivian city of Camiri, in Santa Cruz department, lifted their general strike after Hydrocarbons Minister Jaime Dunn signed an agreement promising to speed up the re-establishment of the state oil company, Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales de Bolivia (YPFB). The agreement, reached after eight hours of negotiations, lays out a timetable under which the process will culminate in three weeks. The government also committed to install gas service in 3,800 homes in Camiri by 2006, and to locate the exploration and drilling management headquarters of the newly founded YPFB in Camiri. The re-establishment of the state firm was mandated by a hydrocarbons law enacted by Congress on May 17, but its implementation has been delayed.


from Weekly News Update on the Americas

On Aug. 15, residents of the Amazon provinces of Sucumbios and Orellana in northern Ecuador began an open-ended civic strike--backed by local elected officials--to demand higher wages, more jobs and the construction of roads, schools and health clinics in the region, as well as the cancellation of contracts with two transnational oil companies, the US-based Occidental (OXY) and Canada's EnCana. The Ecuadoran prosecutor's office has legally challenged OXY--the largest private oil producer in Ecuador--for breach of contract, saying it bought some of EnCana's operating rights without the required approval from authorities. The strikers are demanding that OXY abandon Ecuador altogether. Some protest leaders are apparently demanding that the government renegotiate all contracts with foreign oil companies to demand a 50% share of the profits they make in Ecuador; others are demanding the full nationalization of Ecuador's oil. (Adital, Aug. 18; Financial Times, Aug. 19; AFP, Aug. 20)

Pat Robertson: liar

"Robertson Apologizes for Chavez Remark" reads the Fox News headline Aug. 24. Actually, what he did was lie about what he said. From Blog for America, Aug. 25:

Pat Robertson announced yesterday that his comments on last weekend's "700 Club" were misinterpreted and that his use of the phrase "take him out" did not mean killing:

Pat Robertson: whack Chavez

Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson has given Hugo Chavez ample reason for his paranoia, calling for the US to assassinate the Venezuelan president, calling him "a terrific danger" bent on exporting Communism and Islamic extremism across the Americas. "If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson told viewers on his "The 700 Club" show Aug. 21. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war." Robertson called Chavez "a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling huge pool of oil, that could hurt us badly."

The Bolivarian revolution goes mainstream

In the belly of the beast, the Business section of the NYT, appeared today an unbelievably nice article about the Venezuelan socialist revolution underway.

The articles describes Chavez' push to transform both public and private enterprises into worker-managed and worker-owned businesses.

While worker-managed businesses have been the dream of the world's socialists, in Venezuela they may become a reality. Using tottering companies as the entry point, Venezuela is offering financial incentives in exchange for carrying out "co-management," in which workers are decision makers, in some cases even owners, of businesses across the country. The plan essentially casts the state in the role of rescuer. Four state-owned companies - another aluminum plant besides Alcasa, a coal plant and a power plant - have begun the programs. But incentives like cheap credit and debt write-downs from the government have also enticed more than 100 private, small and medium-size companies to adopt worker management models. Twenty-three of those have agreed to hand over between 10 percent and 49 percent of their shares to employees.


from Weekly News Update on the Americas

Two stories from Venezuela this month exemplify the pressures faced by President Hugo Chavez: on one hand, an increased push from Washington and the bourgeois opposition to capitulate in his populist programs or face destabilization; on the other, a powerful campesino movement demanding an extension and faster pace of populist reforms, especially land redistribution. Reports of local military commanders taking a hard line with campesino protesters point to continuing divisions within Venezuela's armed forces.—WW4 REPORT



from Weekly News Update on the Americas

In spite of the "Justice and Peace" law passed in June, which provides an amnesty for Colombia's right-wing paramilitary networks in exchange for "demobilization," the networks appear to be as active as ever. Peasant and unionist leaders throughout the country continue to be targeted, even as the government of President Alvaro Uribe touts the "demobilization" program as evidence of progress towards peace to keep the US aid flowing in. Killings are reported this month from Dabeiba and Ciudad Bolivar, both in the Cordillera Occidental in Antioquia department, and El Castillo, on the edge of the Amazon rainforest in Meta department.—WW4 REPORT

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