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Bolivia

Bolivia: Fuel subsidy backdown reveals pressures on Morales

Protest against fuel subsidy cut, El Alto, December 30.

By Federico Fuentes

January 24, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- On December 31, the Bolivian government of President Evo Morales repealed a decree, passed five days earlier, to remove subsidies for fuel. The repeal came after protests and discontent at the resulting price increases from many of the government’s poor supporters.

“Why is the government making us suffer during these days … I don’t understand, I don’t understand”, Carla, a housewife in El Alto told Radio Atipiri on New Years Eve. An elderly woman expressed the shock of many supporters of Bolivia’s first indigenous president: “We are poor, we don’t have anything, what are we going to now, Evo has betrayed us, he must go.”

They were among the many that came out against the government’s decree, which sent petrol and diesel prices up by 73% and 83% respectively. It also caused spikes in the price of transport and food.

Cancun climate agreement stripped bare by Bolivia's dissent; Pablo Solon on why Bolivia opposed the Cancún deal

Activists from Via Campesina, an international movement of peasants, demonstrate during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, December 7, 2010. Photo AP/Eduardo Verdugo.

[For more analysis of the Cancun climate talks, click HERE.]

By Nick Buxton

December 16, 2010 -- Transnational Institute -- In the famous Hans Christian Anderson fable, "The Emperor's New Clothes", a weaver famously plays on an emperor's arrogance and persuades him to wear a non-existent suit with the argument that it is only invisible to the "hopelessly stupid".

Cuba on Cancun climate talks: `Another year has been lost since the deception of Copenhagen'

Two speeches by Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Cuba's minister of foreign affairs, at the COP16 of the UNFCCC, Cancun, Mexico

December 8, 2010 -- Translation by Granma International -- Powerful forces are assuring us without hesitation that climate change does not exist, that there is nothing to be concerned about and that the serious problem bringing us here today is a total fabrication.

They are those in the United States Congress who are currently opposing the ratification of the weak agreements which control the proliferation of nuclear weapons, in a senseless crusade whose sole purpose is to retrieve a small part of the power that they lost barely two years ago.

El capitalismo climático gana en Cancún -- todos los demás pierden

Por Patrick Bond, Cancún

12 de diciembre -- Bolpress/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- La clausura el 11 de diciembre de la 16 Conferencia de las Partes –la cumbre global del clima– en Cancún fue mostrada por la mayoría de los participantes y periodistas de los medios dominantes como una victoria, un ‘paso adelante’. El jefe negociador del Departamento de Estado de EE.UU., Todd Stern, alardeó: “El año pasado las ideas fueron esquemáticas y no se aprobaron, ahora se han elaborado y se han aprobado”.

‘Climate capitalism’ won at Cancun – everyone else loses

Protest in Cancun.

[For more analysis of the Cancun climate talks, click HERE.]

By Patrick Bond, Cancun, Mexico

December 12, 2010 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – The December 11 closure of the 16th Conference of the Parties – COP16 global climate summit – in balmy Cancun was portrayed by most participants and mainstream journalists as a victory, a “step forward”. Bragged US State Department lead negotiator Todd Stern, “Ideas that were first of all, skeletal last year, and not approved, are now approved and elaborated.”

Wikileaks: Bolivia's UN rep on secret US manipulation of climate talks & West's blocking action at Cancun

[For more analysis of the Cancun climate talks, click HERE.]

December 6, 2010 -- Democracy Now! -- Secret diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks have revealed new details about how the United States manipulated last year’s climate talks in Copenhagen. The cables show how the United States sought dirt on nations opposed to its approach to tackling global warming, how financial and other aid was used to gain political backing, and how the United States mounted a secret global diplomatic offensive to overwhelm opposition to the [US-sponsored and -imposed] "Copenhagen Accord". We speak to Bolivia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Pablo Solón. Several of the cables addressed Bolivia’s opposition to the US-backed accord.

* * *

The state, social movements and revolution in Latin America

By Federico Fuentes

November 28, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- It should come as no surprise that Latin America, a region converted into a laboratory for ongoing experiments in social change, has increasingly become the topic of discussion and debate among the broader left.

Latin America has not only dealt blows to imperialism but also raised the banner of socialism on a global scale. It is of strategic importance for those fighting for a better world, especially at a time when capitalism is in systemic crisis.

Latin America’s landscape of powerful social movements, left governments of various shades, revolutionary insurrections, and growing expressions of indigenous resistance and worker control, provides a perfect scenario for leftists to learn about, and debate, revolutionary strategy and tactics.

This should not simply be an academic debate. It should look at how to best build solidarity with these movements for change and gain insight for struggles at home.

Of late, burning dispute has opened up, mostly among those writing from an anti-capitalist orientation: a debate over the complex relationship, or “dance” as Ben Dangl calls it, between social movements and states in Latin America.

(Updated Nov. 29) Cancun climate summit should not be `Copenhagen Accord Part II', says Bolivia

Statement by the Plurinational State of Bolivia

November 27, 2010 – At the next meeting of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 16), which begins November 29 in Cancun, Mexico, the 192 member states must agree on a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

However, on November 24, the president of the Ad-Hoc Working group on Long-Term Action issued a new document that attempts to legitimise the “Copenhagen Accord”, which the United Nations merely “took note of” last December in Denmark.

This new document put forth by the president of the Ad-Hoc Working Group, instead taking into account the proposals of all the parties put forth during the process of negotiations, downplays the need for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. [The latest document] was developed underwithout the mandate from the parties, and promotes emissions reductions by all countries without clearly distinguishing between developed countries and developing countries, leaving aside the fundamental principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” among nations.

Battlelines drawn for Cancun climate summit: `Nature has no price!'

Protesters in Newcastle,Australia, December 20, 2009. Photo by Rising Tide.

By Simon Butler

November 22, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly --  If at first you don’t succeed, redefine success. This phrase has become the unofficial motto of this year’s United Nations climate conference in Cancun, Mexico. Just out from Cancun, which runs over November 29 to December 10, there is little hope of meaningful progress. Yet key players have sought to throw a shroud of official optimism over the looming failure.

Few Western politicians want a repeat of last year’s Copenhagen climate conference. They consider it a public relations disaster.

In the lead-up to Copenhagen, public expectations were high. There was a widespread feeling that politicians could no longer ignore the warnings from climate scientists. Many politicians said they agreed strong, decisive action to curb emissions was needed.

But when the big polluting countries blocked a new legally binding treaty at Copenhagen, they were badly exposed.

Ecuador, Venezuela: Danger south of the border

Supporters of Ecuador's President Rafael Correa celebrate his return following defeat of the attempted coup.

By Paul Kellogg

October 26, 2010 -- Polecon.net -- It is not difficult to see that the events of September 30, in the Latin American country of Ecuador, amounted to an attempted right-wing coup d’état. Mass mobilisations in the streets and plazas of Quito (the capital) and other cities – in conjunction with action by sections of the armed forces which stayed loyal to the government – stopped the coup before the day was out. But those few hours highlighted, again, the deep dangers facing those fighting for progressive change in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Remarkably, the first task is to re-assert that in fact a coup attempt took place. In the wake of the failure of the coup, commentator after commentator was trying to minimise what happened. Peruvian “libertarian” Álvaro Vargas Llosa – darling of the World Economic Forum and outspoken critic of Che Guevara and the current governments of Bolivia and Venezuela – insists that it was not a coup just an “ill-advised, violent protest by the police against a law that cut their benefits”.[1]

Bolivia: Morales faces new challenges; Behind the ‘MAS crisis’

Problems and challenges face Bolivia's radical government -- led by President Evo Morales (above), the country’s first Indigenous head of state -- and the process of change it leads. Australia's Green Left Weekly has published two articles on the question, by Eduardo Paz Rada, editor of Bolivia-based magazine Patria Grande, and Pablo Stefanoni, editor of the Bolivian edition of Le Monde Diplomatique. Both were translated by Federico Fuentes. See also Fuente's "Bolivia: Warning signs as social tensions erupt" and the related comments.

* * *

By Eduardo Paz Rada

September 5, 2010 -- Following the political and social transformations undertaken over the past five years by the Evo Morales government with the huge, active support of Bolivia’s popular sectors that have mobilised around their demands since 2000, the political map has radically changed.

Ian Angus: What next for ecosocialists?

By Ian Angus

August 30, 2010 -- Canadian Dimension via Climate & Capitalism -- Not long ago, most socialists had little to say about environmental issues, and the environmental movement was focused on individual (change your light bulbs) and capitalist (create a market for emissions) solutions to the ecological crisis.

In 2007, immediately after the founding of the Ecosocialist International Network, I wrote a Canadian Dimension article on the challenges facing ecosocialists. In it, I discussed two parallel trends that, though in their infancy, seemed to portend a new wave of anti-capitalist and pro-ecology action.

  • Some socialists were moving away from the left’s abstention from the environmental movement, and attempting to develop a distinctly socialist approach to the global environmental crisis.

Estallan tensiones sociales en Bolivia

Escrito por Federico Fuentes (Green Left Weekly), traducido por Robert Cavooris y Janina Suárez-Pinzón (Upside Down World)

Agusto 24, 2010 -- Las escenas recientes de bloqueos de carreteras, huelgas e incluso un atentado con dinamita en la casa de un vice-ministerio en el departamento boliviano de Potosí, recuerdan los tiempos de los anteriores gobiernos neoliberales y han dejado a muchos preguntándose qué está sucediendo realmente en la “nueva” Bolivia del presidente indígena Evo Morales.

Desde el 29 de julio, la ciudad de Potosí, que tiene 160.000 habitantes, se ha parado abruptamente. La gente está enardecida y preparada para luchar por lo que ellos perciben como una falta de apoyo del gobierno nacional para el desarrollo regional.

Potosí es el departamento más pobre del país, pero el más importante para la industria minera, que está a punto de superar al gas como principal producto de exportación, debido a los crecientes precios de los minerales.

Bolivia: Warning signs as social tensions erupt

Indigenous Quechua protesters blockaded the main road between La Paz and Potosi on August 8.

By Federico Fuentes

August 15, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- Recent scenes of roadblocks, strikes and even the dynamiting of a vice-minister’s home in the Bolivian department (administrative district) of Potosi, reminiscent of the days of previous neoliberal governments, have left many asking themselves what is really going on in the “new” Bolivia of Indigenous President Evo Morales.

Since July 29, the city of Potosi, which has 160,000 inhabitants, has ground to a halt. Locals are up in arms over what they perceive to be a lack of support for regional development on the part of the national government. Potosi is Bolivia’s poorest department but the most important for the mining sector, which is on the verge of surpassing gas as the country’s principal export because of rising mineral prices.

Bolivia's UN ambassador: Despite extreme weather, rich countries fail to cut greenhouse gases

August 10, 2010 -- Democracy Now! -- Even as the world faces a series of extreme weather events that scientists warn is related to global warming, international climate negotiations are moving at a glacial pace. The latest round of climate talks in Bonn, Germany, ended last week, and diplomats have just one more short meeting in China in the coming months to hash out their differences before the critical high-level climate conference in Cancún, Mexico, at the end of the year.

At the meetings in Bonn, the negotiating text got a lot bigger, and a number of proposals from developing countries were added into the controversial agreement that came out of the divisive Copenhagen summit last year. Some fear the new text could slow down talks in Cancún, but others say the concerns of the majority of the world’s countries are finally represented in the text.

`Water is life' -- General Assembly supports Bolivia's call for `the human right to water and sanitation'

Speech delivered by Ambassador Pablo Solón of the Plurinational State of Bolivia before the General Assembly of the United Nations on July 28, 2010.

[The historic resolution passed with 122 countries voting for it and 41 abstaining, but with no negative votes. See below for the 41 governments that abstained.]

* * *

Allow me to begin the presentation of this resolution by recalling that human beings are essentially water. Around two-thirds of our organism is comprised of water. Some 75% of our brain is made up of water, and water is the principal vehicle for the electrochemical transmissions of our body.

Our blood flows like a network of rivers in our body. Blood helps transport nutrients and energy to our organism. Water also carries from our cells waste products for excretion. Water helps to regulate the temperature of our body.

`South of the Border': An Interview with Oliver Stone & Tariq Ali

Oliver Stone with Hugo Chavez.

July 28, 2010 -- www.alborada.net -- Oliver Stone’s new documentary South of the Border chronicles the emergence of progressive governments in Latin America, their quest for social and political transformation and their growing independence from Washington. Roberto Navarrete interviews Oliver Stone and Tariq Ali (one of the film’s scriptwriters) to find out some background.

Bolivia's Pablo Solon: We need 'a global movement to defend Mother Earth'

Pablo Solon (second from left) and the Bolivian delegation address a press conference during the Copenhagen climate talks, December 2009.

Pablo Solon interviewed by Derrick O'Keefe

June 29, 2010 -- Rabble.ca -- While G20 leaders barely made mention of the climate crisis, Pablo Solon, Bolivia's UN ambassador, was in Toronto to encourage action on the Cochabamba protocols.

It is no surprise that Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s chief climate negotiator and ambassador to the United Nations, was not on the list of special invitees to the G8/G20 meetings in Ontario this weekend. After all, in April Solon and the Bolivian government he represents organised the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, an international convergence of as many as 30,000 people determined to challenge the Copenhagen Accord being pushed by the world’s richest countries.

In defence of the People's Agreement -- Tanuro and Invernizzi get Cochabamba wrong

[For more information about, documents from and discussion of the World People's Conference on Climate Change, click HERE.]

By Ben Courtice

June 28, 2010 -- In their article "World People's Conference on Climate Change: Some critical comments on the People's Agreement", the Fourth International's Daniel Tanuro and Sandra Invernizzi have missed the main usefulness of this document.

They note, “The words `coal' and `natural gas' are simply not mentioned. The expression `renewable energies' is also absent” and that the document “overlooks the struggle against the capitalist energy lobbies and the sectors linked to it (cars, petrochemicals, shipbuilding, the aeronautics industry, transport …), whereas this is obviously the key question in the framework of an anti-capitalist strategy of stabilisation of the climate.”

It is true the conference did not target the hydrocarbon industries. The Bolivian hydrocarbon ministry in fact had a stall at the conference.

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