Saturday, May 31, 2008

Autonomy in Bolivia:  Are Morales & the MAS Admitting Defeat?


The Bolivian Constituent Assembly
Source:  El Deber

There is interesting news out of Bolivia.  Evo Morales and his MAS Party (Movimiento al Socialismo) may be blinking for the first time and signaling that they are willing to negotiate a settlement with the four Bolivian Departments of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, and Tarija; the so-called Media Luna (Half Moon) departments who constitute the more developed and prosperous eastern one-third of the country and who are in the midst of completing a process of autonomous separation from the remainder of the country.  Earlier this month voters in the Department of Santa Cruz, the most populous and prosperous of the four, approved an autonomy referendum by an overwhelming 86% - 14% margin and the other three departments have scheduled their individual referenda votes over the next three weeks.  Morales and the MAS Party have been persistent in their denials of the legitimacy of the autonomic process, referring to the movements as "separatist" and "secessionist," but the Media Luna departments; who may eventually be joined by the Departments of Chuquisaca and Morales's own Cochabamba, both of whom are considering more limited autonomy proposals, have proceeded in spite of threats, intimidation, and occasionally violent clashes with MAS supporters.

At the heart of the autonomy movement in the Media Luna is a cultural conflict of long duration drawn between the largely European and Mestizo population of the eastern half of Bolivia and the so-called Originarios; the native Andean peoples of the mountainous western portion of the country, particularly the Aymara, the largest of these ethnic groups occupying the high plateaus of the Bolivian Altiplano.  The Aymara and other related native Andeans have supported Morales and his MAS Party in overwhelming numbers, enabling MAS's success against a divided opposition that otherwise would constitute a little less than half of total population in Bolivia.

Though the east-west or European-Originario conflict has been one of long duration, it has only recently boiled over following the attempt of Morales and MAS to impose a new constitution while only possessing a simple majority in the Bolivian Constituent Assembly, rather than the two-thirds required to amend or rewrite under the current constitution.  Morales and his supporters have sought to overcome this impediment by first moving the assembly to a private military base near the city of Sucre, which provoked an opposition boycott of the proceedings, and later holding the final vote for its approval for submission to a national referendum in a session in which MAS demonstrators violently prevented opposition delegates to the assembly from voting in order to secure the super-majority needed to guarantee its passage.  What has followed this overt attempt to circumvent existing Bolivian constitutional law is the strengthening of an already-existing autonomy movement in the eastern departments, where resentment against Morales and distrust of the government he heads has resulted in a full-fledged challenge to the authority of the national government.  The desire of the Media Luna to achieve autonomy had been a minority viewpoint before the Constitutent Assembly; Morales's rough treatment of his opposition transformed it into a popular cause that is sweeping all before it.

The political meltdown that has been underway in Bolivia since then has been a near total disaster.  Bolivia's national electoral court declared both the proposed new constitution and the autonomy statute referenda illegal, but Morales and the Media Luna Departments ignored the rulings, since the body had been rendered practically meaningless over the course of the Constituent Assembly's deliberations, when several of its decisions were ignored, especially by the MAS delegates.  Morales had demanded a halt to the holding of the Santa Cruz referendum on May 4 and insisted that the eastern departments enter into direct negotiations with his government, an option they unanimously refused.  A group of South American sister nations led by Brazil and Argentina, but which included Colombia and Chile, offered to act as mediators.  But the Media Luna stated their distrust of Brazil and Argentina openly for the close ties the leaders of the two neighboring countries have to Hugo Chavez, whose support of Morales and MAS has been quite open, and which killed that proposal.  Morales asked the Catholic Church to act as a mediator, a role the Church refused to play overtly, though they did make two separate attempts to bring the two sides together that failed because the Media Luna departments rejected the insistence of Morales and his government that the autonomy referenda be postponed while talks proceeded.  The Organization of American States also launched its own attempt to negotiate a settlement, and after Morales finally decided to pull back from holding the national referendum on the new constitution, but that effort came too late.  The first autonomy vote went ahead as scheduled in Santa Cruz on May 4 and the process continues.

Today, June 1, both the departments of Beni and Pando are holding their own votes on their individual autonomy statutes.  Both measures are almost certain to pass, in spite of the fact that Morales and his government continue to declare the votes illegal and are calling for an official boycott of the polling places.  In recent weeks government officials loyal to Morales who were present in Beni and Pando have literally been run out of town by local authorities.  MAS activists who have attempted to threaten and intimidate residents of some of the municipalities in the western edge of the departments of Beni and Pando have been met with determined resistance from locals and even though some violence has occurred, a full-scale conflict has been avoided.  And what is more, the CONALDE, a semi-official association of mostly opposition departmental and local government officials, including some outside of the Media Luna departments, has called upon Morales to begin talks designed to bring the eastern departments back into the constitutional process by offering to include their autonomy statutes within the new constitution.  Everything has gone against Morales and MAS in recent weeks.

Speaking Friday in Santa Cruz, Bolivian Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linera made a shocking public statement directed to the members of the still-not-dismissed Constituent Assembly.  Linera called upon the delegates to prepare to incorporate the autonomy statutes within the new constitution.  He asked delegates of both MAS and the Podemos opposition to attend a meeting scheduled on the 9th of this month "with the end of searching for agreements that permit making the constitutional project compatible with the autonomy statues in the Congress."  His remarks were a surprise to everyone, perhaps especially so to MAS delegate and floor leader in the assembly Roman Loayza, who called the idea "a joke."  But there may be more going on here than meets the eye.

The following are the main points arising out of the report on Linera's speech and reactions to it:

  • Part of the dialog between the Morales government and the departments pursuing autonomy should include the incorporation of the autonomy statutes into the new constitution.

  • After an agreement on their inclusion, the Constituent Assembly should be called back into session to include the changes into the text of the new constitution.

  • Reaction from MAS delegates was mixed.  Constituent Assembly floor leader Roman Loayza said the idea was "a joke," and that the document "should have been approved May 4," while another MAS leader, Carlos Romero, differed in saying "we have the mission of finding alternatives to get out of the political crisis in which the country is immersed."

  • Podemos leader Jose Antonio Aruquipa questioned the legality of any changes to the document after the session in late February when MAS protestors prevented Podemos delegates from voting -- known as the "circle" session -- and he also pointed to the conflicting signals emanating from MAS in the distinct positions of Linera and Loayza.  He stated that ultimately Morales would have to become involved to give the proposal credibility.

  • The article also mentioned that this past Wednesday representatives from CONALDE had brought a letter to Morales asking him to resolve contradictions in the statements of his spokesmen and added further that they [CONALDE] are awaiting the conclusion of the final referendum in Tarija on the 22nd of this month to comment further on what must be done to end the political crisis.

    So What is Going On Here?

    I can only make a couple of brief comments, because the truth is that it is difficult to tell from this distance exactly what is happening in Bolivia, given that the situation is quite chaotic.  The first thing that leaps out at me is that what is significant about Linera's statement is that high officials in the Morales government are now looking at the autonomy movements in the Media Luna as constituting a political power they must confront with means other than brute force.  That is something worth noting, but it does not get us very far.  Obviously there are disagreements among MAS party members about what to do here, and it appears that many of them are not willing to accept autonomy for the eastern departments in any form.  That hard line attitude may be more threatening to Morales than his followers recognize right now, given that the vital resources that provide the Bolivian national government its income largely originate in the Media Luna departments.

    My own best guess is that Linera has floated a "trial balloon" in his speech.  Since Morales has not spoken much on the issue, he is personally protected while he awaits the reaction from his followers.  But we may have reached a turning point in which the Media Luna's drive for autonomy has now become a legitimate fact of Bolivian political life and the players are now beginning to adjust. 


    Read More. . . .

    Thursday, May 29, 2008

    The Gorilla Within:  Castroite Blogger Yohandry


    I have always been a proponent of the use of the internet as a forum for free and open discussion, which I naturally believe will benefit the causes of freedom and democracy I support in this blog project.  But I also am aware that free access to the world through internet blogging brings perils along with it, and I am going to introduce one of the most dangerous bloggers I have encountered thus far in this post.  I refer to the Cuban blogger who uses the internet pseudonym "Yohandry," whose blog at the forum of the Spanish newspaper El Pais has evidently just been removed by the decision of web site's managers following a dangerously threatening post directed at renowned Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez, whose story I have been following in this blog for some time.

    I must be honest and state that, even though Yohandry is introduced elsewhere as Yohandry Fontana Guethón; I doubt this is his or her real name given that it begins with the letter "Y," which Yoani Sanchez stated was a mark of unique distinction in Cuba.  The name "Yohandry" is feminine, but the writing style is uniquely masculine and I would like to point out that posters who have responded as commentators to Yohandry's "closure" notice at the La Comunidad forum have addressed him/her as a member of either gender.  The Blog de Yohandry hosted at the El Pais website was up for at least several months; a fact I gather from other blogs that go back to last February which either reference posts from the blog, comment upon them, or even give Yohandry an opportunity to post short messages.  I cannot say more given that it is now closed.

    Beyond a general tendency to proselytize the Castro party line on a number of issues, Yohandry has made a reputation for attacking at least two bloggers I am able to identify at this time; the already-mentioned Yoani Sanchez and an additional Cuban blog known as Potro Salvaje, a name that translates to "Wild Colt" (Note: the Latino music group of the same name is evidently of no relation).  Yohandry accused Potro Salvaje of being responsible for the cyber-attacks that denied Cubans on the island access to Yoani Sanchez's blog last March.  I have read a little of the Potro blog and I must say that I regard this charge as near insanity.  Potro is thoroughly dedicated to the diffusion of information regarding freedom of the press, internet freedom, and access to cyber-technology in Cuba, as well as to the provision of assistance in the way of technical advice, tips, and tricks to fellow Cubans who wish to avoid detection and discovery of their efforts to use the internet free from the retaliation of the Castro regime.  But Yohandry would have us believe that Potro was out to shut Yoani Sanchez down.  You may guess my profane response to this accusation at your own expense.

    Earlier this week Yohandry published an entry at the La Comunidad forum which leveled dangerously serious allegations against Yoani Sanchez, or perhaps I should state "dangerously serious allegations understood by anyone who knows the nature of political repression in Cuba."  Since El Pais has closed the site down, I have searched for a copy of the text from elsewhere without success.  It is no longer available in the Google cache and I am only able to read second-hand didactions of its content.  On Tuesday Laz at Cuba Independiente published an entry containing details of a new crackdown on dissidents underway in Cuba that cited Yohandry's blog as evidence that the regime's repressive actions may foreshadow a move against Yoani Sanchez.  I would like to post a translated quote from that blog containing the report of Yohandry's accusations:

    ". . . This is a clear signal of where the next steps to Tyranny are heading.  In the same vein, the award-winning Yoani Sanchez, owner of the Blog Generacion Y, was accused by a shady and almost unknown blogger using the pseudonym "Yohandry" of working for the CIA and corresponding with the writer in exile Carlos Alberto Montaner, who also is accused of being an agent of the same agency. . . ."

    Anyone who is familiar with the nature of the Castro regime in Cuba understands the seriousness of these allegations.  They can result in jail terms lasting decades.

    Soon after the Cuba Independiente post, other blog sites who track the progress of human rights in Cuba picked up on the story.  Martha Colmenares opened her own discussion thread and began circulating the information among bloggers and human rights groups.  Spanish Pundit picked it up and, I believe, may have the exact translation of Yohandry's accusation, which is as follows:

    ". . . That is not a debate blog, that is a blog where all the scum against Cuba meets.  Yoani is lucky, she has all those people there united and not walking aroung the net.  I accuse Yoani of being linked to elements of CIA, specifically to Montaner, the true owner of that blog, I accuse her of being linked with terrorist elements who live in Europe, Montaner and I accuse of fulfilling the editorial policy imposed by Montaner, the true owner. . . ."

    Again; the dangerous nature of accusations such as these for a Cuban blogger like Yoani Sanchez must be regarded as severe.  We are discussing the life and freedom of a human being when we examine this in the real world.  In the context of international political blogging and the Latin American Left, the risks are more than serious; they are life-altering.

    So where does this leave us when we deal with the question of how we enter into direct discussion with supporters of the Castro regime in Cuba?  I am very sorry to say that the answer is nowhere.  Yohandry has shown only the most recent evidence of a basic psychological truth that anyone who has followed the brutal history of the repression of human freedom that will always remain as the Castro regime's legacy should understand ...

    Within the heart of every Castrista lurks that inner gorilla that is always ready to brutalize and destroy anyone who dares to speak freely of the failures of the regime.

    And the Spanish newspaper El Pais should put aside its support of the Spanish Socialist Party for just a few minutes -- just this once -- and apologize to the world for having provided the means of the intimidation of one of the most important spokespersons for human freedom on the third planet of this solar system -- Yoani Sanchez.


    Read More. . . .

    Wednesday, May 21, 2008

    One of My Blogs Published in Diario de América

    Well; I opened this blog April 5 and a little less than seven weeks later I have one of my entries published in Diario de América.  I think I'm doing okay so far.

    The entry is my May 15 posting "Before the Reyes Documents ..." in which I included a translation of an article Martha Colmenares had published at the end of January for the Spanish news service Minuto Digital.  Martha has written for Diario de América before and she was able to take the translation, along with my blog, and get them published.  Martha has been very supportive of my work and I am most grateful to her.

    Un abrazo Martha


    Read More. . . .

    Tuesday, May 20, 2008

    Yoani Sanchez Warns of Her Possible Impending Arrest (Translation)


    Yoani Sanchez

    I do not think I need to put much of an introduction up here, but the treasured Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez, this year's winner of the Ortega y Gasset prize for digital journalism, has posted an entry at her Generación Y blog warning that she has been threatened with action by the Castro regime.

    I simply will post the translation:


    Written by Yoani Sanchez in Generación Y

    They are warning me that "my case" is lying on the table in some office.  A file full of evidence of offenses committed, a bulky dossier of illegalities that I have accumulated in these years.  Neighbors insinuate that I disguise myself with sunglasses and disconnect the phone when I wish to speak of something in private.  Little, very little -- they are making clear to me -- can now be done so that they do not knock on my door very early one morning.

    In expectation of this, I want to point out that I do not keep weapons under the bed.  Nevertheless, I have committed a systematic and heinous crime:  I thought myself free.  Nor do I have a concrete plan to change things, but in me complaining has replaced triumphalism and -- definitely -- that is punishable.  I could never slap anyone, but I refused to accept my systematic smacking "I am civil."  This last thing is reprehensible to an extreme degree.  On top of that, and despite not having pilfered anything belonging to others, I have wanted to "steal" -- on repeated occasions -- what I believed belonged to me:  an island, its dreams, its legacies.

    They do not trust me anymore; I am not entirely innocent.  I have brought a mountain of misdeeds upon myself:  I systematically purchased on the black market, I commented in a low voice -- and in critical terms -- about those who govern us, I have given nicknames to politicians and I have shared in pessimism.  Above all, I committed the heinous offense of believing in a future without "them" and in a version of history different from what I was taught.  I repeated the slogans without conviction, I washed the dirty rags in sight of all and -- a huge transgression -- I joined together words and phrases without permission.

    I declare -- and I assume the punishment that comes to me -- I was not able to survive and comply with all applicable laws at the same time.

    Yoani Sanchez

    Read More. . . .

    Monday, May 19, 2008

    Blog Review:  Las Armas de Coronel


    Gustavo Coronel

    I am finally going to sit down and write my first blog review, which I always have intended to be one of the special offerings of this freedom blog.  So may I take pleasure in introducing all of you who are following the causes of freedom and democracy in this world across the numerous blogging and news information sites on the internet -- I have a small list of some of these on the sidebar -- to one of my favorites; Las Armas de Coronel, the blog site of Gustavo Coronel, who is a man I consider fascinating for both his personal biography and unique blogging style.  His blog's subject matter is largely targeted towards Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, leftist politics, and public corruption in Latin America.  Blog entries are presented in either Spanish or English and my unscientific estimation is that about two thirds of these are in his native Spanish.

    Some Biographical Notes

    Gustavo Coronel is a Venezuelan Petroleum Geologist now living in Virginia who worked in the Venezuelan petroleum industry for decades; eventually serving as a Director of Petróleos de Venezuela, also known by its acronym PDVSA, from 1976 to 1979.  He served as the Venezuelan representative to Transparency International, a civic organization dedicated to fighting corruption in both public and private sectors worldwide, from 1996 to 2000.  He is a recognized expert on both the Venezuelan oil industry and civic watchfulness of public sector corruption.  In 1983 he published the authoritative study of Venezuelan oil history, The Nationalization of the Venezuelan Oil Industry, he has served as an associate editor and advisor for Petroleum World magazine, and he has continued as an important commentator on the Venezuelan petroleum industry writing for everyone from the The Washington Post to the Oil and Gas Journal.  His affiliation with Venezuelan oil is especially significant for his development as a Chavez critic because, as anyone who has learned the history of Chavez's rise to near absolute domination of Venezuelan political life between 1999-2006 will tell you, it was Chavez's decision to politicize PDVSA in 2002 that produced the mass demonstrations that led to the horrible events of April 11 of that year and which marked a key turning point in Chavez's administration.

    Coronel's civic work as an observer and commentator on public and private transparency in Latin America has been an ongoing endeavor that dates at least from the beginning of his association with Transparency International and has continued right up to the present day.  In 1996 he collaborated as part of the editorial group that produced the regional sourcebook for the organization, La hora de la Transparencia en América Latina (The Time of Transparency in Latin America); a little less than three years before Hugo Chavez came to power.  He has continued to apply himself to what he describes as his "personal crusade against the Populism of Hugo Chavez," not only writing for various publications but also touring Latin America to speak as an activist for the modernization of governmental and business transparency; that quiet revolution that has made great strides in Mexico, Central America, and Colombia in recent years, a story that has been largely untold in the U.S.  He has worked with the Cato Institute, another organization with whom he is affiliated, and he frequently speaks at forums and conferences they organize to disseminate information on public and business ethics reform, using the example of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela as offering lessons of wrongful thinking in the development of effective ethical practice and disclosure.  In recent years Coronel has become well-known in the region having visited Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Colombia, and elsewhere; disseminating the gospel of ethical practice in modern business and government.

    Coronel's Analysis of Corruption in the Chavez Regime

    Even though many fans of the Las Armas de Coronel blog delight in feasting upon the individual slices of the Chavez corruption pie that are served up regularly, Coronel is in fact among the very few analysts of the regime who has prepared a thorough and systematic study of the broad range of its corrupt practices which not only identifies them typologically, but also provides historical perspective on their origins, separating what may fall under the heading of tradition from what is new to the Chavez presidency.  Coronel traces the history of public corruption in Venezuela over at least the last half century as being largely determined by two timely factors which always must be understood to grasp its contemporary context; the nature of the current regime and the status of the Venezuelan oil industry with respect to both production levels and prices.  But though he does see continuity in public corruption in Venezuela as arising in part out of tradition, his perspective with respect to its breadth and scale under Chavez is that the regime sets new standards that are tragic for the country and its people.

    Coronel identifies three main categories of public corruption in Venezuela, under which he categorizes individual examples.  Grand Corruption refers to Chavez's personally corrupt behavior in seeking foreign financial assistance to enable his rise to power, deliberately flouting constitutional law as it existed in Venezuela to write a new constitution illegally, and buying political support abroad with state funds through direct disbursements or arms purchases.  Bureaucratic Corruption is that in which public resources are used for private gain and is certainly in line with Venezuelan tradition, but which now occurs on an unprecedented scale under Chavez.  It involves government contracting, military administration of social programs, the acquisition of a presidential airplane outside of budgetary restrictions, misuse of funds at a governmental agricultural complex, corruption at the Supreme Tribunal of Justice involving illegal commissions for judges and the purchase of protection for narcotics traffickers, an oil supply agreement with Cuba that returns an annual loss to the Venezuelan state of hundreds of millions of dollars that is not enforced by the bureaucracy for political reasons, and the deeply-rooted corruption at the National Electoral Council that is so severe millions of Venezuelans have refused to vote.  But especially important here is the intrusion of the regime into Petróleos de Venezuela, which has been completely and illegally politicized under Chavez, who has effectively destroyed its pre-existing professional organizational model.  Finally, there is Systemic Corruption, which Coronel defines as "The Interface between Government and the Private Sector," and which includes the "the liaison between government officials and private buccaneers to do business at the expense of the public good" and covers everything from bribes and extortion to the management of public programs in the interest of private individuals and companies.

    The examples Coronel provides to explain all three types of corruption are numerous and documented.  It is a solid case.  And I should add that he also makes clear that underlying the expansion of corrupt practices in every one of the above-mentioned categories is the ease with which Chavez has been able to proceed given the increase in state revenues that has accompanied the recent rise in the price of oil.

    The Las Armas de Coronel Blog

    Obviously Gustavo Coronel's personal history and advocacy for the development of greater transparency in public and business practices in Latin America have much to do with the subject matter of his blog.  But while these factors may help to explain what Coronel writes about, they do very little to describe how he writes.  I must confess that I know of no other blog anywhere that delivers its message in such stunning fashion as Las Armas de Coronel.  If I were to reach into the toolbox of literary criticism and pull out the necessary implements to make my point, then I would have to say that it is replete with satirical commentary, sarcastic wit, measured invective, and incisive observation often presented in an earthy fashion.  But that still does not do justice to his unique writing style.

    Though most of Coronel's blog entries are in Spanish, English language readers will still find much into which they can sink their teeth.  I would recommend his Dilemma of the Starving Monkey on the inherent problems of state-run oil companies in Latin America as a good start for providing a good combination of factual data that will inform his readers of the context of a problem, along with snippets of the incomparable Coronel wit.  Using the analogy of the monkey who cannot extract the kernel from the nut to feed himself because his hands do not fit, Coronel makes the following observation about Latin American popular attitudes to state run vs. privatized oil production:

    ". . . In the case of the oil industry, for example, many feel that the only way the oil can be "ours" is through state ownership of the companies exploiting the resource.  The massive evidence that has proven this wrong does not make a dent in the unmovable belief of the people.  As the industries deteriorate, as the state-owned companies show clear signs of corruption, inefficiency and under-investment, the cry continues to be:  "The oil is ours!"  It is almost the same cry of the starving monkey:  "This kernel is mine!" . . ."

    By way of observation, it appears that Coronel usually seems to choose English for a blog entry whenever he feels he either needs to inform American readers on a topic with which they may not be familiar, as in the case above, or when he directly targets individuals and/or issues known in the English-speaking world, such as his visceral examination of English Chavez apologist Roy Carson, to whom Coronel awards a "Ph.D. in Bootlicking," or the incisive observation that the so-called "experts" here in the U.S. who pre-emptively attempted to debunk the Interpol report on the laptops of FARC leader Raul Reyes not only had no expertise in computer forensics but were in fact Chavez enthusiasts with a record of politically supporting the Venezuelan ruler for some time.

    Though Coronel's English blogs are valuable both for their content and sampling of his unique style, they do not create the full impact of his Spanish language entries; some of which are absolute gems.  It is impossible to convey their impact adequately in English, since his use of colloquial euphemisms known to his readers does not always translate easily.  These are perhaps the most hard-hitting blogs anywhere on the internet and that alone makes them a significant contribution.  If you visit the Las Armas de Coronel site and observe the comments posted, you will see that there are more than a few Chavistas who show up from time to time to levy insults in return, and it is my personal opinion that Coronel probably is encouraged to know that his message is not circulating exclusively among Chavez's opponents.

    In order to try to convey to English language readers some of what you may be missing, I have decided to translate a recent blog post that reveals some of Coronel's singular style.  Before you read it, I must advise you that its content is not for the weak-hearted and I encourage you to continue to the notes on the text I will post afterwards.

    The following is my translation of Coronel's May 16 blog (title translated):

    "Now We Will See the 'Who is Who' of World Terrorism":

    Now We Will See the "Who is Who" of Terrorism

    Already we can see the "Who's Who" of world terrorism.

    Among the 609 gigabytes of documents contained in the computers of Raul Reyes, which are original and non-manipulated, according to the report from Interpol, are listed 7989 e-mail addresses.  This list has to be a "Who's Who" of world terrorism. It is likely that these addresses are neither all those there are nor all who are there, but the list is going to provide us a good cross section of this gloom-filled world that thrives on kidnapping, money laundering, death and drugs.  There we will see:,

    It would not be strange to see in the list addresses such as:, clage@vudú.org,, gordabella@alcaldia.rosa,, tobias@yahooju.bonos, diosdado.adan@cayman.muna, and gorilauno@obeso.tiuna .

    Some eight thousand names! I did not imagine that Raul Reyes could have had so many acquaintances. Who would have thought that criminals who confessed and are even proud of their crimes might have friends and active accomplices among thousands who aspire to live in the normal world, in the civilized world?

    Whoever calls for and observes a minute of silence for the "hero" killed by the evil forces of Colombian democracy, as Hugo Chavez did publicly, would probably not hesitate to give financial and even military support to the criminals of the FARC. Hence protests by Chavez on the Interpol report are clearly hypocritical. It is not easy to understand the attitude of the Venezuelan dictator. He often displays himself publicly as a supporter of the FARC, but protests indignantly when a report by international experts advances the process of clarifying the relationship between terrorists and his regime. It would appear that he thinks that if he says something it is okay, but he considers it an insult that someone else might say it. In the town where I grew up, Los Teques, there was a crazy man who ate turds but did not tolerate the boys who called him shit eater. History repeats itself.

    Gustavo Coronel


    You can certainly get an idea of the bite in the Coronel style from what is translated, but even the text does not go far enough.  I could go into the nuances of his style in Spanish, using hasta (up to, as far as) in combination with dependent clauses which I have translated as "even" in the above text which, when all are taken together, gives a Spanish language reader a sense of the breadth or scope of the perfidy revealed in Chavez's conduct that does not come across in English.  But what is especially important here is that unique cultural communication anti-Chavistas get to share among themselves, in a rare moment of unbridled free expression, which is denied them in Venezuela.  "" can be translated as (sorry, but) ""; "hiperbolsaltiplanico@bolsa.bol" is a reference to Chavez fellow-traveler and Cocalero Evo Morales in Bolivia and the translation puts new meaning -- a hiperbolsa could be a vegetable wholesaler -- into to the little sack chewers of treated coca leaves on the Bolivian altiplano carry; "hiper" being the Spanish equivalent of "hyper."  And there are more, but the point is there is something very special shared between Coronel and Venezuelans here, that gives his biting style purpose.

    I heartily recommend this one-of-a-kind blog to everyone.  I do think of it as a "Freedom Blog."  It may be an acquired taste, but its impact is something unique.  I am convinced that even the Chavistas who show up to throw jabs back at Gustavo Coronel know they are reading the truth.  For that reason I think I can close with ...

    ¡El Coronel no Tiene Quien Le Duda!


    Read More. . . .

    Saturday, May 17, 2008

    Blog Link - "Hugo Chavez:  Sponsor of Terrorism"

    Editor Aleksander Boyd

    With so much going up on the web in the past few days following the release of the Interpol report authenticating the information divulged from the Reyes laptops, I would like to take a brief moment to recommend a short, but valuable statement of three paragraphs Aleksander Boyd has posted at

    The real aftermath of the Interpol report should be that the defenders of Chavez can no longer be treated as unknowing dupes of a sponsor of terror.  I quote:

    ". . . From this day on, anyone openly siding with Chavez is, by association, a supporter of terrorism and should be treated as such by authorities and public opinion worldwide.  The honey moon has ended."

    I encourage everyone to keep an eye on VCrisis.  If you lose track of its name, I have them on the links sidebar as "Venezuela in Crisis."


    Read More. . . .

    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    Before the Reyes Documents:  Martha Colmenares on Chavez's Ties to the FARC (translation included)


    Interpol Secretary General Ronald Kenneth Noble

    The confirmation of the authenticity of the documents taken from the hard drives of former FARC leader Raul Reyes has been made.  In a press conference in Bogota on Thursday representatives from the Interpol computer forensics team who examined the four laptops at the request of the Colombian government made a full report to the world that presented their findings that the Colombian government did not insert new files, nor did they tamper with existing files, nor did they modify or alter the content of the hard drives in any way.  According to Interpol's Secretary General Ronald Kenneth Noble "the eight proofs [presented by the Colombian government] registered no modifications."  Noble went on to say "we did not request to be involved, but when the call came from Colombia we did not doubt that we would accept the task, even though we knew that this could create a lot of criticism."  Interpol also made clear that the volume of data to be examined was extensive, that analyzing it required the use of ten Interpol computers and more than four thousand hours of work time, and that there was too much data to do a thorough study of the content.

    Conclusions:  Colombia did not mess with the evidence and Interpol is not going to comment on the full meaning of what the documents present.

    I expect to see a rush on the part of many bloggers who have been waiting for this moment to trumpet the authenticity of the Reyes documents and I wish them well.  Some of these bloggers, like me for instance, have been studying Chavez for years and we've known the FARC connection was indisputable.  There have been some very shameful attempts on the part of Chavez idolators to discredit the information Colombia released to the public, in spite of some very good indications -- external evidence -- that events following in the wake of the seizure of the laptops; such as arrests in Thailand, the search of a FARC safe house in Costa Rica where $480,000 in cash was found, the seizure of 66 pounds of uranium in a home north of Bogota and more, all pointed to the likelihood that this was an intelligence bonanza.  But I want to take a step back from the cheering among the good guys right now and raise one very important question I consider timely at this moment.

    Haven't the Colombians and Venezuelan dissidents been telling us that Chavez was directly behind the FARC, both for reasons of substantial and indisputable evidence along with his own openly declared policies and known personal history?

    The answer is an obvious "yes," they have been informing the wider world.  But their repeated efforts to publicize the truth have been drowned out by the background noise of a concerted campaign to delegitimize them, and the story they tell, for their avowed opposition to leftist politics, as well as for the deliberate intent of a major news media establishment that neglects their view as either uninteresting or at odds with a political agenda they only attempt to disguise.

    And what did we hear from these sources?  Well; let me put up a quick list:

  • The details of Hugo Chavez's personal biography going back to at least the late 1980's show a consistent involvement with the Latin American Left; including Cuba and the Sao Paulo Forum, where his most important contacts were established and from whom he received significant resources enabling his rise to power.

  • Chavez has openly endorsed the FARC and they have returned the favor likewise, a relationship that has been well-established since the late 1990's, as has been made clear in the public statements of both.

  • Chavez's support of the FARC has been a publicly-stated policy of the Venezuelan government from the earliest days of his regime.

  • Venezuelan government officials under Chavez have openly admitted that they support the FARC as a policy initiative.

  • Chavez's involvement in recent efforts to free kidnapped hostages of the FARC has only been cynical political theater as his regime has assisted in the kidnapping of its own countrymen.

  • With the authentication of the Reyes documents, it is now time to revisit the information that has come from these sources, whose stories have been vindicated in the content of the archived correspondence of a known terrorist leader.  I have been presenting a good deal of evidence over the past three weeks from the Colombian perspective.  I now want to return to an important Venezuelan dissident, Martha Colmenares, whose work I have highlighted before.

    The following is a translation of an article by Martha which was posted on the Spanish news site Minuto Digital on January 29 of this year.  That's a full month before the attack on the FARC encampment in Ecuador where Reyes was killed.

    Read the details and ask yourself why we did not hear more of this before March 1.


    Translation:  Chavez's Relations with the FARC

    Published January 29, 2008 | Author: Martha Colmenares

    Chavez's relationship with his Colombian allies is longstanding, one part of it was kept secret, and another part has come into public view.  Before entering the Military Academy, Chavez was a communist agent, supervised by his brother Adan and together they must have begun their contacts with the Colombian guerrillas.

    On leaving prison pardoned in 1994, he traveled to Colombia to look for political and financial support for his political aspirations in Venezuela, offering compensation in return if he achieved his aspirations for power.  Therefore he traveled to Havana in December 1994, where he was received at the airport by Fidel Castro himself.  The alliance with Castro gave Chavez a direct passport to communism in Colombia.  Already by 1990 Castro had formed the Forum of Sao Paolo (FSP) with all the communists who were left disbanded following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

    In May 1995, Chavez traveled to Buenos Aires, picking up Argentine revisionist Norberto Ceresole, a denier of the Holocaust, on his way.  Both of them continued on to Montevideo, where leftist General Liber Seregni (of the Frente Amplio) received them, and who introduced Chavez and his MVR-200 (Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement - 200) at a meeting of the FSP.  The organization was holding its fifth gathering in that city.  Once enrolled in the Forum of Sao Paulo, Chavez took on a formal and functional relationship with the Communist Party of Colombia, the FARC and the ELN, who are also members of that organization.

    In 1996, Chavez traveled to El Salvador to participate in the Sixth Meeting of the FSP.  This would serve as a setting to interact with the Colombian delegates, including the FARC guerrilla Raul Reyes, who later publicly expressed his sympathy for Chavez and who classified him as a "patriot."  That same year he said that the FARC are "about the same" as Chavez.

    In January 1999, three weeks after assuming the presidency, Hugo Chavez publicly modified the traditional position of Venezuela regarding the Colombian guerrillas, who ceased to be enemies. Venezuela would be "neutral."  On October 2 of the same year, he told the news media that the guerrillas were no longer the common enemy of Colombia and Venezuela.  He previously had expressed his readiness for the ELN to carry out its national convention in Venezuela.  The terrorist group said that Chavez was a leader to follow.

    There is a document from the year 2000 which states that Chavez was the candidate of the Colombian guerrillas.  This can be confirmed from a review of the clippings in the Venezuelan press at that time.

    As early as February 2000, the FARC issued a statement supporting President Chavez.  Months later, the former director of the Venezuelan security agency DISIP (Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services), Jesus Urdaneta, said that Chavez was impelling the guerrillas against the government of Colombian President Andres Pastrana.

    Pastrana denounced the fact that the Colombian government ordered him to deliver 300 thousand U.S. dollars to the Colombian guerrillas, adding that President Chavez always had wanted to give them arms.  The guerrillas were trying to launch a final offensive towards Bogota and overthrow the Pastrana government.

    When the FARC linked the political party named Movimiento Bolivariano (Bolivarian Movement) with the "New Colombia," on the 5th of May, 2000, Chavez showed his satisfaction with the creation of the new party and publicly welcomed it.

    On July 16, 2000, General Victor Cruz Weffer, one of the military leaders closest to Chavez, told the weekly newspaper Quinto Dia that the Colombian oligarchy was more dangerous than the guerrillas.

    Since then, there have been numerous items of public evidence of the mutual support between Chavez and the Colombian Communists:  from the Communist Party, the Democratic Pole, the FARC and the ELN.  You can get enough of this evidence by regularly reading the FARC's website.

    That sequence of events was denounced in Venezuela, by people such as the President of Fuerza Solidaria (Solidarity Force), Alejandro Peña Esclusa.  Even then, there were sufficient reasons to judge him for betrayal of the country.

    In 2001, Hugo Chavez Frias refused to sign the Asuncion Declaration against Terrorism and Narcotics Trafficking in Paraguay to which the participating nations subscribed.

    The insolent and shameless eulogy to the FARC's war crimes delivered at the National Assembly of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, during the presentation of the report on government management last Friday January 11, on the part of the sinister Chavez, has only ratified his pretensions of ending the stability of the continent's democratic countries, especially Colombia.

    It is not left to anyone in the world to doubt his claims in the least.

    Like those of a ruler who indignantly denies the existence of dozens of kidnapped Venezuelans, repudiated by the people of his country for that reason.  For his alleged playing of the hero of the show, as we became witnesses to the occasion of the liberation of the Colombians Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzalez.

    Capable of bathing his country and his neighbor, Colombia, in blood to impose these heartless ones responsible for crimes against humanity with such force.  It was his decree of war to the death. Hence "Socialism, Homeland or Death," his sentence of judgment engraved in stone.

    But outside the spirit of that decree of War to the Death, which on June 15, 1813 the headquarters of Trujillo, Venezuela left as testimony to the Liberator Simón Bolívar, in response to the crimes committed by the worldly Domingo de Monteverde.

    Spaniards and Canarians, count on death, even if indifferent, if you do not actively work in favor of the independence of America.  Americans, count on life, even if guilty.  (see note below)

    In no way does this correspond to the patriotic sentiment of the Liberator, that of Hugo Chavez who proclaims these murdering insurgents of the FARC "Bolivarians."

    Chavez only profanes Bolivar every time he invokes him.

    Martha Colmenares


    Translator's Note:  This italicized quote is the final line from Simon Bolivar's famous Decree of War to the Death of June 15, 1813.


    Read More. . . .

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008

    Nueva agenda Demócrata para América Latina: Multipolarismo  ¿Un regreso a las esferas de influencia?  (Traducción)


    Barack ObamaHugo Chavez

    Autor:  StJacques    Traducción por:  StJacques y Jorge Pareja

    La siguiente es una traducción de mi propia entrada del 30 de abril titulado (en Inglés) "Part II of The New Democrat Foreign Policy Agenda for Latin America...".

    Esta es la segunda parte del análisis de la agenda de política exterior estadounidense tal como fue desarrollada por el Senador de Connecticut Christopher Dodd en su discurso reciente ante la Academia Naval, el cual creo, y teniendo en cuenta que el Senador en comento ha respaldado la candidatura de Barack Obama, puede llegar a tomarse como direccionador de las nuevas perspectivas del Partido Demócrata para las relaciones de EE.UU. con América Latina.

    Permítanme volver a los apartes del discurso del Senador, publicados en la parte 1, tomados del blog de Oppenheimer, para hacer énfasis en dos partes fundamentales de lo que Dodd dice:

    "[...] Colombia todavía lucha con la desmovilización de los paramilitares, con la impunidad y otras violaciones de los derechos humanos. Ha tenido avances hacia la seguridad de sus ciudadanos y establecer el imperio de la ley. Colombia ha soportado 40 años de violencia enfrentando organizaciones terroristas poderosas empeñadas en destruir el Estado. [...] Millares de ciudadanos fueron asesinados y secuestrados. En un caso particularmente descarado, las guerrillas se asociaron al cártel de la droga de Medellín, asediaron al Palacio de la Justicia colombiano por 26 horas, y asesinaron once Magistrados.

    A la luz de una historia violenta, y a la luz de los desafíos complejos que todavía asedian a Colombia, me parece que enfocar de manera tan estrecha la solución en los acuerdos comerciales bilaterales carece de sentido. El comercio bilateral [de Colombia] con los Estados Unidos es importante, pero es solamente un elemento.

    [...] El Presidente Uribe ha centrado sus esfuerzos en reuniones con los Estados Unidos, pero él tiene que aplicar la misma energía para reunirse con sus vecinos. El Presidente Uribe tiene que pasar tantas horas en viajes a la Argentina, al Brasil y a otros vecinos igual a la intensidad con que viaja a Washington. Al hacerlo, forjará relaciones políticas, sociales y económicas más profundas.

    [...] La seguridad y el futuro económico de América latina no están vinculados solamente a los acuerdos bilaterales con los Estados Unidos. El comercio regional y el compromiso político van a servir mucho mejor los intereses de todos juntos con repartos comerciales independientemente negociados e instituidos con los Estados Unidos. [...]"

    Es evidente que Dodd está empujando a la integración regional, a pesar de que apenas alude a la idea en su declaración. En el caso de las relaciones de Colombia con la Argentina y el Brasil esto tiene nombre propio: Mercosur. El movimiento hacia un “mercado común meridional”, un plan para la integración regional en el que Colombia participe, a pesar de las relaciones tensas con muchos de los socios de este grupo.

    Creo que debemos hacer un alto y dimensionar las implicaciones de esta decisión política:

    Dodd recomienda alejarse del libre comercio, y avanzar hacia la integración regional, dejando a Colombia gravitando en la esfera de intereses regionales definidos por Brasil y Argentina, abandonando el mantenimiento de los compromisos de Estados Unidos que se remontan a la negociación del Plan Colombia durante la presidencia de Clinton y de la continuación con su puesta en práctica durante la administración actual junto con la negociación de un Tratado de Libre Comercio.

    Con respecto al Brasil y a la Argentina, hay problemas serios con las políticas que han perseguido con respecto a su ayuda, a veces sutil a veces abierta, a la “izquierda bolivariana” en América Latina. Los regímenes de ambos países están endeudados con Hugo Chávez, especialmente en el caso de Argentina que se ha beneficiado de petróleo venezolano y subsidios de gas por miles de millones de dólares. Esta propuesta política lanzaría a Colombia a los brazos de las naciones que han ayudado abiertamente o secretamente a rasgar al país en pedazos. Es además la traición a una nación amiga que necesita desesperadamente el apoyo americano para el mantenimiento de su integridad territorial y su vida democrática.

    Christopher Dodd recomienda, y podemos asumir que concurre Barack Obama, que los Estados Unidos deben alejarse del compromiso de más de cincuenta años de apoyar un orden mundial basado en un sistema uniforme de seguridad colectiva que mantendría un estándar común para los valores humanos y continuaría la expansión económica del mundo. ¿Y qué lo sustituirá? Pues bien, si examinamos cuidadosamente las observaciones del Senador Dodd sobre el uso de “comercio regional”, parece que le favorece un orden que divide al mundo en lo que los euro-izquierdistas llaman “centros polares del poder regional”, que es la expresión moderna de las llamadas “Esferas de Influencia”.

    El orden mundial encarnado en las Naciones Unidas posterior a la Segunda Guerra Mundial fue creado en virtud de un entendimiento común de que el sistema que consistía en sustituir había sido definido por las esferas de la influencia regionales y/o imperiales y que las normas universales en materia de seguridad, expresión humana y la vida económica tenían que ser los principios básicos de un nuevo orden mundial que preservaría la paz y el futuro de la humanidad.

    La síntesis Multi-Polar se pone de lado del reconocimiento de los “centros polares de poder”, los orígenes de lo que representa un rechazo de la tradición del universalismo que ha formado la base del orden mundial desde la creación de la ONU. Esto no se trata de un cambio evolutivo en la política mundial y la sociedad, es una alteración fundamental del orden mundial, y debemos explicar por qué naciones desarrolladas y en desarrollo con excepción de los Estados Unidos impulsan su adopción.

    Aunque muchos factores pueden influir en el desarrollo de un orden mundial Multi-Polar, la influencia más importante es un juego de simple economía. Muchas de las sociedades desarrolladas del mundo han aprendido que no pueden sostener el crecimiento económico en un verdadero entorno competitivo capitalista, ya que han puesto en práctica políticas sociales que los han despojado del capital productivo y que los dejan rezagados para competir en la nueva economía global. Y hay otras naciones justo a las afueras de este grupo, que incluyen a China y Rusia, que tienen marcas muy desiguales de desarrollo capitalista, pero que aún temen las consecuencias políticas de la aceptación de valores universales como un desarrollo que crearía conflictos con sus intereses nacionales percibidos.

    Los orígenes verdaderos del Multi-Polarismo, especialmente en su formulación teórica, se encuentran en las naciones de Europa occidental, siendo Francia y Alemania los mejores ejemplos, donde onerosos programas sociales domésticos han levantado el coste del empleo empresarial a un punto que ha mantenido al desempleo gravitando entre el diez y el quince por ciento. Estas son cifras excesivamente elevadas que tienen el potencial de crear verdaderos conflictos internos y han llevado a estas naciones a impulsar políticas internacionales diseñadas para cambiar las reglas del juego, en lugar de hacer frente a estas dificultades dentro de sus sistemas políticos internos.

    La solución a los problemas del bajo crecimiento económico entre las sociedades desarrolladas ha sido una tarea que trata de definir las esferas de interés, donde podrán disfrutar las ventajas de la falta de competencia comercial que permitirá a sus economías nacionales funcionar sin hacer frente al gasto social nacional.

    Ya ha habido ejemplos visibles que muestran su efecto debilitante sobre el orden internacional. La rebatiña entre las principales naciones por el acceso preferencial al petróleo iraquí antes de la guerra de Irak, con TotalFinaElf de Francia es el mejor/peor ejemplo, donde se demostró que las preocupaciones por mantener los estándares del derecho internacional carecen de sentido cuando el interés económico nacional estaba en juego. Pero también hay otros casos que demuestran esta tendencia, como la negociación de mercados exclusivos en África para los granos “no modificados genéticamente” europeos. Se puede recordar la forma en que algunos miembros de la Unión Europea estaban dispuestos a dejar morir de hambre a los zambianos en 2002 por preservar su mercado de alimentos no alterados genéticamente.

    Las normas universales que fueron encarnadas en la formulación original de la Carta de las Naciones Unidas y el orden internacional del período posterior a la Segunda Guerra Mundial serían reliquias si el Multi-Polarismo se convierte en la base aceptada para la definición de un nuevo orden mundial y contaríamos con ello si los Estados Unidos lo respalda, como el discurso de Christopher Dodd parece sugerir.

    El Multi-Polarismo es el verdadero imperialismo social que cabe en la definición clásica de imperialismo de Vladimir Lenin mucho más que el modelo universal del orden posterior a la Segunda Guerra Mundial que se pretende sustituir. Se incorpora un nuevo orden, organizado para apoyar las metas gemelas de limitar la competencia económica entre las naciones desarrolladas a favor de la adquisición exclusiva de acceso al comercio, y sacrificar el nivel de crecimiento económico mundial. Pero, las sociedades en desarrollo necesitan de un sistema internacional regulado que preserve la paz social que las sociedades más avanzadas disfrutan actualmente a expensas de sus vecinos menos desarrollados.

    El Multi-Polarismo también augura un futuro oscuro para la libertad y la democracia, las razones se puede ver en el caso de Colombia, una nación que lucha por preservar la democracia y la libertad humana la están echado a un lado y la obligan a cambiar su camino para acomodar los intereses de potencias regionales que han apoyado su desestabilización y el debilitamiento de su sociedad democrática libre.

    Cuando se oye la llamada de Barack Obama para las conversaciones directas con Chávez y Castro, o cuando se lee los planteamientos del Senador Christopher Dodd, o cuando ambos se niegan a reconocer y discutir las amenazas a la democracia y la libertad que la “izquierda bolivariana” plantea a la región, se tiene su visión del futuro para la política exterior estadounidense si se adopta la síntesis Multi-Polarista, como los demócratas instan ahora. Es el único marco en el que serán capaces de promover una agenda social cuyos niveles de gasto nos despojará del capital productivo que ha hecho de los Estados Unidos una nación próspera desde el final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Y lo que es peor, la preservación y apoyo a la democracia y la libertad también están en riesgo.


    Read More. . . .

    Trying to Spin Tomorrow's Interpol Report Ahead of Time


    Slain FARC Terrorist Leader Raul Reyes

    Tomorrow the long-awaited and much-anticipated report from the Interpol computer forensics team will be presented to the public containing the results of their investigation into the four laptop computers recovered from former FARC terrorist leader Raul Reyes, who was killed in the March 1 cross-border raid into Ecuador.  The Interpol team was specifically tasked with an examination of the possibility of file tampering or hard drive manipulation on the part of the Colombian government so as to substantiate the authenticity of the Reyes Documents, whose contents have produced damaging revelations for Hugo Chavez, Rafael Correa, and others regarding the nexus of contacts in place and maintained to support the FARC's war on the Colombian government.  Translation:  They are going to tell us whether the Colombian government or anyone else planted new information on the hard drives or manipulated files that already existed before they were seized.

    It should come as no surprise to anyone who is aware of the awful support network that is in place in this country to support Chavez and his program that there is a rush on to control the spin of the information that will be made public when Interpol substantiates the veracity of the document content.  It is a sickening sight to see how the American news media permits blatantly open supporters of Chavez to appear suddenly and contest the authenticity of the Reyes documents -- before Interpol even releases its report -- presenting themselves as "experts" whose opinions can be taken as an objective analysis.  But we all knew it would happen, so we shouldn't be astounded, especially since the Chavez regime is jumping on the news, releasing it as fact in Venzuela.

    Venezuelan Dissident & Blogger Gustavo Coronel

    I encourage everyone to visit the Las Armas de Coronel blog to read this blog entry by Venezuelan dissident and all-round pesadilla de Chávez Gustavo Coronel.  Mr. Coronel nails the pre-emptive spin doctoring by the likes of Mark Weisbrot, Daniel Hellinger, James Early, and Miguel Tinker-Salas as nothing less than the purest form of leftist adulation and media-sponsored deception.  Go and get the truth!

    Oh, by the way, those guys know nothing about computer forensics, not that it makes much difference to the American media.

    ¡Buen hecho Señor Coronel!


    Read More. . . .

    Monday, May 12, 2008

    Nueva agenda exterior Demócrata para América Latina (Traducción)


    El Senador por Coneticut Christopher Dodd

    Autor:  StJacques    Traducción por:  StJacques y Jorge Pareja

    La siguiente es una traducción de mi propia entrada del 20 de abril titulado (en Inglés) "The New Democrat Foreign Policy Agenda for Latin America, Part I ...".

    Parte 1: Colombia  ¿Un aliado desechable?

    Visitando el blog “Oppenheimer Report on Latin America” encontré un acertado análisis a un discurso reciente del Senador por Coneticut Christopher Dodd -Reconocido al interior del Senado norteamericano como experto en América Latina-.  Andrés Oppenheimer concluye que el Senador Dodd está “aspirando a ser nuevo Secretario de Estado” y yo estoy plenamente de acuerdo con esta aseveración.  Pero si vamos más allá encontraremos que el Senador en mención, hace una presentación muy sutil de lo que en realidad son algunos cambios mayores que le depara a la política extranjera de los Estados Unidos incluyendo América Latina en caso, claro está, que los demócratas logren el control de la “Casa Blanca”.

    Les presentaré este análisis en dos partes:  en la segunda discutiré la síntesis “Multi-polar” que los demócratas ahora están impulsando y sus implicaciones para Latinoamérica.  Pero en esta parte 1, pretendo demostrar como la manipulación de la discusión pública, con la intención de ocultar del pueblo norteamericano la aterrorizante realidad que enfrenta día a día el pueblo colombiano.  Las consecuencias de la decisión de no voto al Tratado de Libre Comercio –TLC- son una puñalada sutil pero mortal a la espalda de los colombianos.

    Vamos a algunos apartes de la intervención del Senador Chris Dodd:

    "[...]  Colombia todavía lucha con la desmovilización de los paramilitares, con la impunidad y otras violaciones de los derechos humanos.  Ha tenido avances hacia la seguridad de sus ciudadanos y establecer el imperio de la ley.  Colombia ha soportado 40 años de violencia enfrentando organizaciones terroristas poderosas empeñadas en destruir el Estado.

    Millares de ciudadanos fueron asesinados y secuestrados. En un caso particularmente descarado, las guerrillas se asociaron al cártel de la droga de Medellín, asediaron al Palacio de la Justicia colombiano por 26 horas, y asesinaron once Magistrados.

    A la luz de una historia violenta, y a la luz de los desafíos complejos que todavía asedian a Colombia, me parece que enfocar de manera tan estrecha la solución en los acuerdos comerciales bilaterales carece de sentido.  El comercio bilateral [de Colombia] con los Estados Unidos es importante, pero es solamente un elemento.

    [...]  El Presidente Uribe ha centrado sus esfuerzos en reuniones con los Estados Unidos, pero él tiene que aplicar la misma energía para reunirse con sus vecinos.  El Presidente Uribe tiene que pasar tantas horas en viajes a la Argentina, al Brasil y a otros vecinos igual a la intensidad con que viaja a Washington.  Al hacerlo, forjará relaciones políticas, sociales y económicas más profundas.

    [...]  La seguridad y el futuro económico de América latina no están vinculados solamente a los acuerdos bilaterales con los Estados Unidos.  El comercio regional y el compromiso político van a servir mucho mejor los intereses de todos juntos con repartos comerciales independientemente negociados e instituidos con los Estados Unidos.  [...]"

    Comunicación Simbólica Entre los Demócratas:  No discutamos sobre las FARC

    Lo primero que debemos notar acerca de los comentarios de Dodd sobre Colombia, es que haciendo uso de la comunicación simbólica envía una señal para ser entendida por todos los aliados partidarios presentes:  la “línea del Partido” ahora será desarrollada.  Dodd se introduce en el tema colombiano con una referencia a las dificultades que los paramilitares representan para el país y después asocia el problema paramilitar como el problema más grande de la violencia en la historia reciente de Colombia, pues en el resto de su introducción, hablando del Palacio de Justicia nombra una organización que ya fue desmantelada  –El cártel de Medellín que fue desvertebrado a principios de los años 90-.  Y tras el habitual formato del discurso político, es después de su introducción sobre los problemas de Colombia que Dodd procede a dar sus recomendaciones para una correcta política exterior estadounidense para abordar esas dificultades.  Pero vamos a resistir examinar esas recomendaciones por el momento, ya que tengo intención en llegar a ellas en un segundo post.  Por ahora centrémonos en la introducción que dio Dodd, porque lo que no dijo es precisamente la parte clave de su comunicación.

    El Senador Christopher Dodd hace un recorrido transversal de los problemas de Colombia y hace sus recomendaciones para superarlos sin mencionar por su nombre a las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC.  Más adelante en el discurso, después de presentar sus sugerencias para los cambios en la política de los Estados Unidos con respecto a Colombia, él las refiere dos veces, pero esas dos referencias se hacen totalmente fuera de su análisis introductorio de las cuestiones importantes para la política extranjera de Colombia y de los Estados Unidos; son otras referencias oblicuas al incidente de frontera reciente con Ecuador y cómo la crisis fue evitada dentro del contexto de una reunión conjunta de los líderes latinoamericanos.

    La decisión de Chris Dodd de no hacer referencia directa a las FARC no puede ser considerada un accidente.  Se podría discutir que los incluye tangencialmente cuando menciona "organizaciones terroristas poderosas" quiénes están "empeñadas en destruir el gobierno colombiano".  ¿Pero si son tan poderosos y sus metas son tan terribles, porqué Dodd no puede desagregar y llamar a cada organización por su nombre?  La respuesta es que deben mantener esa comunicación simbólica crucial para su partido:  "no habrá discusión abierta del terrorismo de las FARC" porque se desviaría la atención del problema de los paramilitares y minaría la justificación política para “matar” el Tratado del Libre Comercio EE.UU-Colombia.

    El Senador entiende lo que cualquier otro opositor del Tratado del Libre Comercio EE.UU-Colombia entiende:  Deben prevenir el debate público de las actividades de las FARC en Colombia con el fin de evitar el escrutinio público de su decisión de “matar” al tratado.  "Mantengan el foco en los paramilitares" es la línea del partido Demócrata, muy bien leída por sus emisarios en el Congreso pues invocan simbólicamente a El Salvador de los años 80, cuando las escuadrillas de muerte paramilitares patrocinadas por el gobierno mataron a millares,  -situación totalmente diferente de los paras colombianos, que fueron organizados fuera de los auspicios del gobierno y representaron una respuesta popular a la incapacidad del Estado de protegerlos contra los depredadores de las FARC y otros grupos de guerrilla izquierdista-.  Con la estrategia de no referirse a las FARC, como mecanismo útil para justificar la “muerte del TLC” están evitando que este grupo terrorista forme parte de la discusión pública del pueblo norteamericano, lo que conlleva un encubrimiento de parte del Partido Demócrata hacia ellos.  Se trata pues, cuando menos, de un crimen político, porque las FARC llevan años ejerciendo actos de terrorismo que agravian a toda la humanidad.

    En los dos últimos decenios las FARC han matado a miles de colombianos inocentes en ataques directos y bombardeos terroristas.  Han secuestrado a miles más, algunos han logrado su libertad después de haber pagado rescates, algunos perdieron la vida cuando los términos de la negociación no fueron seguidos a su antojo, han reclutado por la fuerza a miles de jóvenes colombianos, niños y niñas llevados a servir en sus filas, matando a muchos de aquellos que se niegan a hacerlo.  Han construido un imperio del narcotráfico que les genera cientos de millones de dólares al año en ganancias que los conecta con redes de distribución que se extienden por Bolivia, Perú, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panamá, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, y especialmente en México.  Todo esto hace inobjetable decir que:  las FARC cometen crímenes contra la humanidad pues estamos hablando de asesinato en masa, ataques terroristas, secuestro extorsivo y narcotráfico generalizado.  En comparación, los paramilitares, que tienen también su terrible historia, están ahora dentro de un proceso de desmovilización supervisado por los grupos de Derechos Humanos [otra cosa que Dodd omitió en su análisis].

    Cada día en Estados Unidos vivimos con la tergiversación de la verdad como un hecho de la vida política.  Es algo que realmente no podemos evitar, pero debe haber límites.  Ocultar un crimen contra la humanidad está más allá de cualquier límite aceptable y cualquier persona que desvía la discusión del tema de las FARC está encubriendo un crimen.  Tales acciones constituyen crímenes en si mismos.


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    Friday, May 9, 2008

    Dynamic Situation in Bolivia:  Senate Passes Resolution for Referendum to Recall President Evo Morales, Hugo Chavez Threatens Intervention


    Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales

    The Political Situation in Bolivia

    Things are proceeding very quickly in Bolivia in the aftermath of Sunday's recall referendum in the Department of Santa Cruz, which voters approved by an overwhelming margin.  Yesterday the Bolivian Senate unanimously passed a referendum resolution which, if approved by more than the 53.7% of voters who elected Morales in 2005, would recall him along with the vice president and the sitting governors (prefects) of the nine departments of Bolivia.  The referendum would take place within 90 days if Morales signs the resolution, which he has promised he will do, according to press reports.

    Here is a translation of a short article on the issue from Spain's 20minutos web site:

    Translation:  Evo Morales Agrees to Submit to Referendum for the Ratification of his Mandate

  • The same measure was proposed a few months ago

  • Today the Senate, controlled by the opposition, surprisingly and unanimously adopted it

  • In addition to Morales's mandate, those of the Vice President and the Nine Governing Prefects Are to be Reviewed

  • The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, agreed to submit his mandate to a revocation referendum that he himself proposed a few months ago and which today the Senate, controlled by the opposition, approved in a surprising and unanimous manner.

    The political crisis in Bolivia has thus taken a new turn that guides the country toward a popular referendum to ratify or revoke the mandate of Morales, his vice president, Alvaro Garcia Linera, and the nine prefects (governors), mostly of the opposition.

    It was Morales who, in December, 2007, introduced the referendum bill before the National Congress when the country was living through a tense situation regarding the constitutional process.  That proposal, after being approved on the first vote in the Chamber of Deputies, remained blocked in the Senate for several months.

    Let the People Say Who Shall Serve

    "I want to reiterate my position of submitting ourselves to the people, let them tell us who shall serve and who is not to govern," the chief executive said today, for whom this popular consult "is a way of making democracy more profound" in the country and an expression of respect for the legal process, the rule of law and the National Congress.

    The president requested that the Congress send him the referendum convening bill as soon as possible to enact it immediately.

    According to Bolivian law, the vote should take place within ninety days following the chief executive's approval.


    There are complications to the process of convening this referendum vote that are not as apparent as one might think at first glance, as explained in an online article on the web site of the Bolivian newspaper El Mundo which offers additional information that may help to put these complex developments in perspective.  In the likely event that Morales approves the referendum call he then will have to involve the Constitutional Tribunal in the process, which at this moment is in limbo following the resignation of four of its five members during the constitutional crisis Morales and his MAS supporters provoked when they prevented the opposition Podemos party delegates to the constituent assembly from voting on the writing and approval of the new constitution, which has yet to be submitted to a popular referendum vote.  It is unclear how this matter will be addressed in the legal process of dealing with the referendum call resolution the Bolivian Senate has just passed.  MAS Senator Felix Rojas voiced his party's fear that the opposition would use this legal hurdle as a justification for avoiding the dialog Morales has demanded as an alternative to the movement for autonomy in the four departments of the so-called Media Luna region in the eastern part of the country, which includes Santa Cruz.  But the President of Bolivia's Senate, Oscar Ortiz (Podemos), stated in a press release today that the opposition is actually moving to face the regime with the illegality of its handling of the constitutional process which he stated "would lead the country into a scenario of confrontation and division."

    Hugo Chavez Threatens Intervention

    At the same time that Bolivian events appear to indicate that both Evo Morales and his opposition might be looking to the electoral process to settle their differences, the news out of Venezuela portends for the opposite result.

    The following is a translated excerpt from the original Spanish posted at Yahoo News:

    Translation:  Chavez Warns That He Will Act To Prevent Separation of Bolivia

    Caracas (AP) - President Hugo Chávez said on Thursday that his government "is not going to stand still with arms crossed" if a process of separation in Bolivia is carried out.

    "Venezuela is not going to stand still with its arms crossed with all this implies," said Chavez, in a meeting with South American energy ministers at the presidential palace, assuring that his government would intervene if any separation in Bolivia occurs.

    "There, yes, it is true, they accused me of interference once, they are accusing me of interference, I plead guilty from now on," he said.

    The president reiterated his criticism against the autonomy referendum that was held last weekend in the Bolivian locality of Santa Cruz, and argued that a vote such as that seeks the separation of Bolivia.

    "Up to now I am innocent of any interference anywhere, but if something comes to pass (in Bolivia) it simply breaks the rules of the game," he said.

    Chavez directly accused the United States of being behind Santa Cruz's autonomy vote.  "The plan against Bolivia is of U.S. origin," he added.

    . . .


    While it is always possible that El Primer Bolivariano is simply running his mouth, since he never said anything specific, this is a threat that must be taken seriously, given that the Bolivian opposition already has alleged that Chavez has been interfering in their country's affairs to support Morales.  This is not the type of talk one would expect to instill confidence among the opposition that the negotiation process Morales is asking them to join will produce a result that secures their safety in the future.

    From the Blogosphere

    There is not a lot to see on these two issues right now in English language sources, as for once I am somewhat ahead of the game in getting a post up quickly.  Gateway Pundit has an entry on Chavez's threatened intervention in Bolivia containing a few related links and interesting tidbits of related interest.  Bloggings by Boz has the recall referendum issue up in short form, raising the question of the risks Morales may be taking.

    And as is so frequently the case, if you read Spanish, Martha Colmenares has both issues covered in full; including Chavez's threatened intervention (contains a video of Chavez's statement), the Morales recall referendum announcement, and a third on the articles of the recall referendum text.


    Read More. . . .

    Thursday, May 8, 2008

    Cuban Blogger Yoani Sanchez Refused Travel Visa to Receive Ortega y Gasset Prize


    Ortega y Gasset Prize Winner Yoani Sanchez

    I do not think it is particularly surprising to report that Cuban authorities have refused permission for a travel visa to Generación Y blogger and Ortega y Gasset prize winner for digital journalism Yoani Sanchez to go to Spain to claim her prize.  I reported on the announcement of the award last month, now the news is "official" -- how ugly that word sounds now -- that she will not be permitted to leave Cuba.  This action comes as a tremendous disappointment to everyone who has followed Yoani's blogging; I'm actually afraid to put her blog on the sidebar for fear I will unnecesarily draw the wrong kind of attention to her, but it only serves as further proof of the realities of the supposed "changes" we read are coming for post-Fidel Cuba from leftist blogging sites all over the internet.  Welcome back to reality, little has changed.  Except for the fact that there is a courageous voice speaking very softly through the short blog snippets she posts to let the world know she is there.

    Yes; she really is there. Yoani Sanchez was named to Time magazine's list of the "100 Most Influential People" for 2008, a rare honor for someone who began blogging from obscurity less than two years ago, but an honor that clearly raises her profile.  If you would like to read a quick essay that expresses the significance of Yoani's blogging from the perspective of freedom-loving Cuban exiles, check out the article at KillKastro that really gets to the heart and soul of what Yoani represents spiritually to Cubans on and off the island.  The Babalu Blog follows Yoani as closely as anyone, in both English and Spanish.  You can find several entries on their homepage as of today, but you might want to check out their "Yoani Roundup" post to get links to a quick overview of several sources.  And as always, Marc Masferrer's Uncommon Sense blog keeps track of anything and everything to do with Cuban journalists and freedom of expression on the island.  He has two recent posts worth examining;  A Dangerous Woman and No White Card for Yoani.

    If you read Spanish, there are a number of places to look, but let me give you two quick links to help.  Penúltimos Días has a heart-rending "open letter" written to Yoani by Ernesto Hernández Busto from Barcelona expressing beautiful affection and sadness that she may not be present to pick up her prize; I wish everyone could read it to get a sense of how Yoani is really touching something deep inside people who understand the dangers of the path she walks.  And not surprisingly, Martha Colmenares continues to track Yoani's story.

    Yoani Sanchez is a true blogger-hero who does as much as anyone to bring dignity and meaning to this passion for online expression so many of us share.  We will continue to look to her for inspiration.  And we will also hope and pray that someday she and other Cubans will be able to travel abroad, expressing by their presence on and off the island that basic human right of free movement, which is only one of so many human rights denied them today.

    ¡Felicitaciones Yoani!


    Read More. . . .

    Tuesday, May 6, 2008

    Nancy Pelosi and the Politics of Poison



    Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's recent decision to refuse to schedule a vote on the U.S.-Colombian Free Trade Agreement has placed American trade and security policy within the center of the political landscape for the current election year.  Pelosi has justified her position publicly by reason of what she describes as Colombia's failure to make significant headway in addressing the problem of the paramilitaries in that country, who are still in a process of demobilization following a 2004 agreement to disarm and disband implemented by the Colombian government and monitored by international human rights groups.  Included among these is the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States, who last month released their report for 2007 on Colombia, in which they observed that the Colombian government had demonstrated "its commitment to pacification," though they also expressed concerns about the need for greater protection of witnesses testifying against former paramilitaries, within a legal process necessary for victims and their families to receive awards for damages and reparations, as well as presenting evidence that not all paramilitary groups had disarmed and there was even the possibility that some could be reforming.  But the sum total of all evidence regarding paramilitary violence in Colombia is that it has dropped off dramatically since the 2004 accord, which the IACHR has noted.

    A second issue Pelosi has raised, along with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, is that violence against labor union leaders in Colombia has not been addressed to their satisfaction.  This presentation has never been made forcefully to the American people, and for good reason as George Will has pointed out, given that the level of violence is so low that the life expectancy of labor union members in Colombia is above that of the general population.  Any honest and informed observer of the process should be able to say that the real motivating factors behind Pelosi's decision to deny a vote on the U.S.-Colombian Free Trade Agreement are two; she is keeping the Democratic Party marching in step with the trade protectionist positions of organized labor during an election year when they need labor's financial support and political activism and she is providing political cover for Barack Obama, who opposes the agreement and would be put under the microscope if the matter came up for a vote.  Hillary Clinton apparently opposes the agreement also, but her position has been ambiguous.

    This is not the first time Nancy Pelosi has used her influence within the House Democratic Leadership to prevent an important debate from proceeding before the eyes of the American people.  While still House Minority Leader in September, 2005 she played the leading role in preventing a full-fledged congressional investigation into the handling of the disaster response to Hurricane Katrina, insisting that only the actions of the federal government could be investigated -- read "investigate the Bush Administration but cover the rear of Louisiana's then Democratic Governor Kathleen Blanco" -- and no such inquiry has ever been held.  I live in Louisiana and within a week of Katrina's landfall I knew, along with many other Louisianans, that an open investigation would not show our state and Governor in a good light.  Inevitably the world would have known that the State of Louisiana had turned back private rescue efforts, that Governor Blanco's hesitation to call up the National Guard went so far as to extend beyond the outbreaks of post-storm violence and looting, that the State of Louisiana either did nothing or consented outright to the closure of a federal highway bridge leading into downtown New Orleans and therefore had a hand in isolating those who were stranded, and that from as early as the Tuesday after the storm Governor Blanco's own Department of State Homeland Security chief had refused permission to both the Red Cross and Salvation Army to travel to the Superdome and Convention Center to relieve the suffering saying the two sites might become "magnets," an outrageous remark that has never been explained.  What happened in New Orleans after Katrina may have been -- I actually would argue "was" -- the most significant civil rights crime in America since the era of legalized segregation and Pelosi refused to let the Congress investigate it or to have the facts discussed in front of the American people.  This was poisonous betrayal of the most vulnerable among us, pure and simple, but it gained political advantage for Pelosi in her drive to wrest control of the House of Representatives away from the Republicans, and she obviously has not forgotten the lesson.

    Pelosi Also Played a Major Role in Preventing an Open Discussion in Congress of the post-Katrina Abandonment of Displaced New Orleanians

    We can only hope that the venemous nature of political manipulation we have seen from Nancy Pelosi will be replaced by a more open and honest exercise of legislative leadership. This appears doubtful at present, so in the meantime we can only call it what it is openly.

    It is poison, pure and simple.


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