Andean Theater


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


from Weekly News Update on the Americas


On July 14, some 500,000 people--construction workers, teachers, students and many others--marched in seven of Peru's regions to protest the Andean free trade treaty being negotiated between the US, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. The protests, organized by the General Confederation of Peruvian Workers (CGTP), were also seeking an end to privatization and other neoliberal economic policies, and the resignation of Labor Minister Juan Sheput. The CGTP is also demanding the convening of a constituent assembly to rewrite Peru's Constitution, and a new social security law based on the principles of solidarity. (Adital - World Data Service, July 15; Campana Continental Contra el ALCA, July 15)

Chile: Mapuche acquitted of "terrorist" charges

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 31:

In a 2-1 decision, a three-judge panel of the Oral Criminal Court in the Chilean city of Temuco acquitted six Mapuche rights activists in a retrial on charges of "terrorist illicit association." The ruling was handed down at the close of the trial on July 22, and was officially announced at a brief hearing on July 27. The regional prosecutor's office had charged lonkos (community leaders) Pascual Pichun and Aniceto Norin, Mapuche activists Jose Llanca Ailla, Jorge Huaiquin Antinao and Marcelo Quintrileo Contreras, and non-Mapuche sympathizer Patricia Troncoso with forming an illegal association to plan and commit "terrorist" acts--including incendiary attacks, theft and other crimes--on behalf of the Arauco-Malleco Coordinating Committee (CAM), a Mapuche land rights group. Most of the alleged crimes were against property and none posed a direct threat to life. "The Chilean government should take careful note of today's verdict and stop using the country's antiterrorism law in cases for which it clearly is inapplicable," said Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director for the US-based Human Rights Watch on July 22.

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