Bolivia: civilian defense training begins amid intervention fears

Bolivia’s government announced Aug. 5 it has started a program of military training for civilians at army barracks in the east of the country—a stronghold of the right-wing opposition. Army officials said the program will extend to all the country’s military bases. Questions about the training program arose after a TV station broadcast images of young men armed with rifles taking target practice at a base in the regional capital of Santa Cruz. Also shown in the video were young indigenous women in traditional billowing skirts and bowler hats doing calisthenics.

Vice President Alvaro García, himself a former leftist guerilla, said the purpose of the program is to enable civilians to assist in defending the homeland. He called participation “a citizen’s duty.” His words were echoed by other officials, who denied there are plans to arm civilians. “These training activities that we have with the citizenry are for the defense of the country,” Gen. Ramiro Siles, commander of the army’s 8th Division, told reporters in Santa Cruz. Commander of the Cochabamba-based 7th Division, Gen. Hernan Ampuero, said the military training was intended for citizens of all social classes, but acknowledged that many participants came from indigenous communities.

Opposition Sen. Herman Antelo (himself a scion of the Santa Cruz landed elite) demanded an explanation. “We are asking ourselves if the goal is the create paramilitary forces in support of the government,” he said. The Civic Committee opposition coalition in Santa Cruz issued a statement saying military training for civilians violates Article 10 of Bolivia’s new constitution, which declares the country a pacifist state that rejects all wars of aggression.

Bolivian President Evo Morales meanwhile voiced warnings against the US is preparing military intervention in Latin America, with the “central objective” of seizing oil reserves and other natural resources. He specifically invoked the establishment of US military bases in Colombia. (AHN, Aug. 6; AP, Aug. 5)

Morales has made such warnings before. A similar program of civil defense training has been established in his ally Venezuela.

See our last post on Bolivia.

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  1. WHY?
    This hate-filled narco-government has these peace loving indigious folks so screwed up in the head its incredible. If I hadn’t seen it myself, I wouldn’t have believed that men – military men – could be so dishonorable as to encourage those ladies to needlessly do calisthenics in the cold. To train for what? To defend? Defend against what? The US? Yeah right! Why on earth would the US launch an attack against Bolivia? What is really happening here is that Evo, just like Chavez and Cuba, needs to create Boogiemen to distract the people away from the real threat – Evo himself. He’s got the whole country screwed up. Changes were indeed needed, but Evo’s extremism is ruining this wonderful country.

    1. You touched on some important points
      Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales are 2 peas in a pod…they are from the same ideology…just following the Karl Marx recipe book on how to destroy totally a democratic, open market society to its knees and once the smoke clears…the ONLY choice the entire population has in order to feed their families are to consent to COMUNISM in order to feed their children…AMERICA SHOULD RESPOND SOONER THAN LATER….this is very serious…..take over of an entire hemisphere, continent into a Cuba style COMUNIST monopoly take over. In essence this is the HIJACKING of a Democracy by Chavez and Evo. Action is needed now!

        …certainly helps make your points. So does spelling “communism” with one M.

        Yes, Bolivia was certainly a paragon of democracy under Hugo Banzer and Klaus Barbie.

        1. An evil that will not last a hundred years
          Here are some of the tricks that Evo is using to destroy freedom:
          1. Claiming that anyone who opposes him is an oligarchic landowner. (How can the million people who turned out to protest against what he is doing all be part of the oligarchy?)
          2. Turning over all secret police, intelligence and presidential security matters to Cubans and Venezuelans.
          3. Changing the constitution by having it rewritten in a room where the opposition is locked outside.
          4. Grabbing land that doesn’t belong to him by claiming that its owners were involved in (unproven)illegal activities.
          5. Following Chavez’ urging to pursue the politics of tiny steps to see if he can catch the opposition napping.
          6. Betyraying Bolivar’s principles whilst claiming to support them.

          Remember the German “Democratic” Republic? Evo’s idea of democracy is on the same level. His speeches are wrtten by an ex Shining Path terrorist. Four legs good, two legs bad..

            1. Tupac Amaru, not Shining Path
              Correction, Tupac Amaru, which has very similar aims

              Perú Reclama al Consejero de Evo Morales
              LA PAZ, Bolivia, AP – Un consejero del Presidente Evo Morales solicitado en Perú por una presunta ayuda a los rebeldes izquierdistas dijo este martes que es inocente y peleará contra los alegatos en su contra. “Voy a cumplir con lo que la ley indica,” dijo Walter Chávez a los reporteros en su primera aparición pública desde que los líderes de la oposición solicitaron su renuncia. Guillermo Cabala, fiscal jefe anti-terrorista, dijo a Associated Press el lunes en la tarde que ha solicitado a la corte una orden de arresto internacional contra Chávez, que según el gobierno boliviano es un refugiado político asilado en este país desde hace ya algún tiempo. Cabala dijo que Chávez fue arrestado en 1990 cuando presuntamente recibía 10.000 dólares al extorsionar a un empresario peruano para el Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru y es acusado de recibir 5.000 dólares en otra oportunidad. Chávez fue liberado bajo fianza y desapareció antes de entregarse a las autoridades bolivianas en 1992. Bolivia le otorgó asilo político a Chávez en 1998.

              1. MRTA, Sendero not too “similar”…
                Yes, we have noted that. But please be careful with words like “similar.” Tupac Amaru were adventurist, especially in the Japanese embassy occupation which proved to be their undoing. But they did not suffer from the exterminationist bloodlust of the Shining Path. In fact, the two groups were often violently opposed. Please.