Andean Theater

BOLIVIA: EVO MORALES VICTORY CONFIRMED

from Weekly News Update on the Americas

On Dec. 23, with 99.7% of the votes counted from the Dec. 18 general elections, Bolivia's National Electoral Court (CNE) announced that Evo Morales Ayma of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) had won the presidency with nearly 54% of the valid votes cast. Morales got more than 1.5 million votes; turnout was an unprecedented 84.52% of the country's 3,670,971 registered voters. He will be inaugurated on Jan. 22 for a five-year term, taking over from interim president Eduardo Rodriguez Veltze, the former Supreme Court president who became president of Bolivia last June 9 after popular protests forced out the previous president, Carlos Mesa Gisbert.

BOLIVIA: "GAS WAR" IMPUNITY AGGRAVATES TENSIONS

by Kathryn Ledebur and Julia Dietz

Over two years have passed since Bolivian security forces killed 59 and left over 200 people seriously injured during widespread demonstrations protesting the management of Bolivia's gas reserves in September and October of 2003. As in other social conflicts in Bolivia, there have not been legal consequences for the human rights violations committed during the "Gas War."

By the time President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada resigned, the armed forces and police had killed almost as many people during his fourteen-month presidency as during the seven years of the Hugo Banzer dictatorship (1971-1978), considered one of Bolivia's bloodiest military governments since the 1952 revolution. The military's systematic refusal to cooperate in a meaningful way with investigations—although ordered to do so by the Bolivian Supreme court—and the delay of the United States government to deliver subpoenas to Sánchez de Lozada and two former cabinet ministers living in the U.S. have impeded attempts to seek justice for the victims and stem future human rights violations in a politically tenuous climate.

Anti-Semitism in Venezuela?

A disturbing clip from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:

Chavez makes anti-Semitic slur
Venezuela's president said in his Christmas speech that "the descendants of those who crucified Christ" own the riches of the world.

"The world offers riches to all. However, minorities such as the descendants of those who crucified Christ" have become "the owners of the riches of the world," Chavez said Dec. 24 on a visit to a rehabilitation center in the Venezuelan countryside. (JTA, Dec. 30)

Maine tribes view Venezuela oil deal

From Indian Country Today, Dec. 16:

PORTLAND, Maine - American Indian leaders from four tribes in Maine met with representatives of the Venezuelan Embassy and became the first tribes in the nation to begin working out details for the delivery of low-cost heating oil to tribal members.

ECUADOR: TEN THOUSAND PROTEST TRADE PACT

from Weekly News Update on the Americas

Some 10,000 indigenous people from throughout Ecuador gathered in the capital, Quito, Nov. 16-18 to demand that President Alfredo Palacio not sign a free trade treaty (TLC) with the US. The protesters are also demanding that the Palacio government cancel its contract with the US oil company Occidental (Oxy), and that a national constitutional assembly be convened to rewrite the country's Constitution. In addition, the indigenous movement is demanding that the government end its cooperation with "Plan Colombia," the US-backed military program which is intensifying the war in Colombia and spreading it across the border into Ecuador.

VENEZUELA: OIL FOR U.S. POOR; "HOLOCAUST" IN PRISONS?

from Weekly News Update on the Americas

OIL DEAL FOR U.S. POOR

The Houston-based oil company CITGO, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), is set to supply 9 million gallons of discounted home heating oil to 45,000 low-income families in Massachusetts in December, and another 3 million gallons to local charities. The deal—arranged by Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA), the Boston-based nonprofit energy corporation Citizens Energy and left-populist Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez Frias—provides the oil at a 40% discount. CITGO and Citizens Energy, which is headed by former US representative Joseph Kennedy II, were scheduled to sign a contract on Nov. 22.

COLOMBIA: INDIGENOUS, PEACE COMMUNITIES UNDER ATTACK

from Weekly News Update on the Americas

CAUCA: ONE KILLED IN EVICTION

On the morning of Nov. 9 some 500 Colombian police agents attempted the forcible removal of 400 members of Paez (Nasa) indigenous communities from the El Japio farm, in Caloto municipality in the southwestern department of Cauca, which they had been occupying since Oct. 12. A 16-year old indigenous youth—Belisario Camallo Guetoto, according to the Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), and Belisario Tamayo, according to most media reports—was killed by a shot to the head. At least 36 indigenous people and 10 police agents were reportedly wounded during fighting which continued through Nov. 10. At least one anti-riot vehicle was set on fire.

PARAGUAY: THE PENTAGON'S NEW LATIN BEACHHEAD

Is the Real Enemy Islamic Terrorism, or Bolivia's Indigenous Revolution?

by Benjamin Dangl

The recent shift to the left among Latin American governments has been a cause for concern in the Bush administration. The White House has tried in vain to put this shift in check. Presidential elections in Bolivia on December 18 are likely to further challenge US hegemony. Evo Morales, an indigenous, socialist congressman, is expected to win the election. How far will the US go to prevent a leftist victory in Bolivia? Some Bolivians fear the worst.

In the past year, US military operations in neighboring Paraguay, Bolivia's neighbor on the southeast, have complicated the already tumultuous political climate in the region. White House officials claim the operations are part of humanitarian aid efforts. However, political analysts in both Paraguay and Bolivia say the activity is aimed at securing the region's gas and water reserves—and intervening in Bolivia if Morales wins.

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