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Propaganda Blitz Against Bolivia’s Progressive Government

by Cassandra Howath, 3 September 2019

On 26 August, Novara Media’s website published a vicious and reactionary article titled ‘It’s Not Just Brazil’s Forests That Are Burning, Bolivia Is on Fire Too’ by prominent Extinction Rebellion speaker and activist Claire Wordley.  Novara and Wordley are recycling from the same imperialist playbook which has been drawn on in recent attacks against Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua – the so-called Troika of Tyranny. The gist of Wordley’s article is that Bolivian President Evo Morales is to blame for the fires raging in the Amazon rainforest; that he is as ‘damaging as … the capitalists Morales claims to hate’; that he hasn’t responded to the fires effectively; and that when he has responded – such as by hiring a Boeing 747 Supertanker to douse the flames – he was forced to do so by ‘volunteer citizens’.

The Guardian and Independent promptly threw their weight behind this propaganda blitz: a 27 August opinion piece by Harriet Marsden in the Independent urges us to ‘look to Bolivia’, not Bolsonaro, when placing blame for the fires; and a 2 September Guardian headline tars Morales as a ‘murderer of nature’. This media offensive is evidently timed to try and exploit the Amazon fires to discredit Bolivia’s government in the run-up to the country’s general election on 20 October, in which Morales’ party Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) is expected to win a fifth term.

The core of Wordley’s article is claims by ‘Bolivian activist’ Jhanisse Vaca-Daza, a professional regime change operative and ‘the spearhead of a network of Western organizations that trained and advised the leaders of regime-change operations from Venezuela to Eastern Europe to the on-going anti-China protests in Hong Kong’ (Grayzone). She was trained at the US’ Kennedy School which boasts all the key players in the recent attempted coup administration in Venezuela. Heavily funded by the US government, Vaca-Daza has led the propaganda attacks against Morales and kickstarted the #SOSBolivia hashtag to beg the imperialist nations for intervention, exploiting the forest fires for this purpose. Opposition candidate Carlos Mesa, who received $10 million from the US earlier this year, has also echoed these calls for outside ‘aid’.

Extinction Rebellion has eagerly responded to these calls by staging protests outside Bolivian embassies across Europe. Wordley’s article also quotes El Deber, one of the largest pro-opposition media outlets in Bolivia. While Wordley says her research was ‘unfunded work’ performed out of interest, she is producing regime change propaganda in the imperialist nations for free; those sources she cites and promotes are being handsomely rewarded by Washington.

The truth is less convenient for the interests of imperialism. For several weeks, there has been an increase in the fires in the Amazon rainforest, primarily in Brazil but which spilled over the border into Bolivia in early August. In response to this, Morales hired a Boeing 747 Supertanker, which in the past week has discharged 979,000 of the 1,892,330 litres of water which have been dropped on affected areas. In addition, the government’s efforts have included five helicopters dropping 873,720 litres, and contracted aircraft dropping a further 39,610 litres. The UN has recognised and praised these efforts due to ‘the large forces mobilised and Morales’ calls for a region-wide response’. Bolivia’s government reported that by the end of August ‘85% of the fires had been extinguished in around eight days of its operations’ (Grayzone, 29 August 2019). Morales also announced an ‘ecological pause’, which means that in fire-affected areas, land sales are prohibited so that agribusiness cannot profit from the fires and the damage caused – by using the newly cleared land for cattle grazing – and won’t be tempted to deliberately burn more forest, and so that once the fires have been extinguished a program of reforestation rather than exploitation can commence.

While it is true that earlier this year the Bolivian government allowed small farmers to burn some areas of forest land to clear way for crop production, saying ‘If small families don’t set fires, what are they going to live on?’, a NASA report has confirmed that the fires are concentrated overwhelmingly in Brazil. Wordley’s article ignores that of the one million hectares that have been consumed by fire in Bolivia since the beginning of August, less than a quarter has been rainforest, and that these figures are on a par with or less than the figures for previous years. The total area burnt in 2004 was 4.8 million hectares (more than twice the figure for 2019 so far) and in 2010 it was 6.1 million (including 2.7 million in forests alone, outstripping the total for all land types burnt this year) (Reporte: Incendios y Quemas en Bolivia).

As we reported in FRFI 271, “in 2011 [Bolivia] became the first country in the world to introduce legal protections for the environment on a par with rights protecting human beings.” In June 2015, Morales called capitalism ‘a cancer for Mother Earth’. Bolivia has only recently managed to throw off the hawk-like claws of the IMF and is in no hurry to hand its sovereignty back to the US in exchange for so-called aid. Earlier in 2019, in response to flash flooding, Bolivian Vice President Alvaro García Lineras said ‘Bolivia has the resources…the era of begging [to outsiders] has passed, leave that to Carlos Mesa’. As we saw in Haiti in 2010, international emergency aid is militarisation and occupation under another name.

Across Latin America, capitalism cannot allow even progressive social democratic governments like Bolivia’s to thrive, and with the presidential election approaching, these will only be the first of many vicious attacks against Morales and MAS.


First published by RCG.  Copyright by RCG.

 

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Barovsky

See also: https://libya360.wordpress.com/2019/09/04/green-smearing-from-nicaragua-to-bolivia/

Green-Smearing: From Nicaragua to Bolivia
Posted by Internationalist 360° on September 4, 2019

Stephen Sefton

On one level the intensifying deceit of Western media foreign affairs coverage corresponds to the increasing desperation of Western elites confronting their failing global power and influence. But it also signals yet another crisis of capitalist economic growth. After 1945, North America and Western Europe based their genocidal imperialism on a social compact promising prosperity to their peoples at home in exchange for their collusion in imperialist military aggression and neocolonial crimes overseas. That system operated successfully based on the fundamental neocolonial fiction that Western governments and societies promote freedom, justice and democracy around the world, while doing the very opposite.

Robbobbobin
Robbobbobin

“Across Latin America, capitalism cannot allow even progressive social democratic governments like Bolivia’s to thrive…”

Anywhere it can prevent it, capitalism cannot allow even progressive social democratic governments like Bolivia’s to thrive…

And a social democracy is not even socialism, it’s capitalism hoping for socialism one day provided the capitalists don’t beat it even more senseless than it already is, at playtime when teacher isn’t looking. Or to put the “senseless” in terms of logical positivism, social democracy is a proposition full of hope but bereft of meaningful content: there is no such thing as a mixed economy.

Francis Lee
Francis Lee

”No such thing as a mixed economy.” I think Hitler and Mussolini might have quibbled over that. Additionally during WW2 the United States became what was virtually a mixed economy. The US 1941-45 didn’t so much stimulate the economy, to a large extent it replaced it.

”In many industries, corporate executives resisted to converting to military production because they did not want to lose consumer market share to competitors who did not covert. Conversion thus became a public goal pursued by public officials and labour leaders. Auto companies only finally converted to wartime production in 1942 and began substantially contributing to aircraft production by 1943. The bombing of Pearl Harbour was an enormous spur to conversion. From the beginning of preparedness in 1939 through the peak production by 1944 the war economy could not be left to the capitalist sector to deliver. To organize a war economy and ensure that it produced the goods needed for war, the federal government created an array of mobilization agencies, which often purchased goods, closely directed those goods manufacture, and heavily influenced the operation of private companies and whole industries …

The US Treasury Department introduced the first income tax in US history and war bonds were sold to the public. Beginning in 1940 the government extended income tax to virtually all citizens and controlled it by deductions from wages at source. Those subject to income tax rose from $4 million in 1939 to $43 million in 1945 … ”

This sounds rather like a mixed economy to me. But I take what you mean.

Robbobbobin
Robbobbobin

“…I take what you mean.”

So put it back? With erudite elucidations?

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

Sound observations, Robbo … especially this classic 🙂

“World leaders and their invisible supporters would attack a local cricket club if it came to light that its’ groundsman was a paid up member of the National Grasscutters and Hedge Trimmers Union. ”

Worthy of repetition.

(Indeed, Ethel Zimmermann might have added a few expletives … 😉 )

“Capitalism has failed” said Christine Lagarde, in Mansion House, under specific jurisdiction for elitist’s benefit, in May 2014. Lagarde surely still believes in the “mixed economy”, that can still prosper & evolve from a “future, inclusive Capitalism” & Corporate Control …

Graft
Graft

Ash Sarkar is literally not a communist you idiot! Novara media is a mini vice news

DomesticExtremi
DomesticExtremi

It looks increasingly like Extinction Rebellion are set up to be the Otpor of the twenty-teens, viz. a fully fed and watered offshoot of globalised capitalism.
Anybody who has had to live with the consequences of one of Otpor’s democracy installation operations will tell you that they did not get what they were promised.
One wonders how many of the ER crowd are actually congnisant of who they really work for and how many are unwitting dupes.

nottheonly1
nottheonly1

I found a typo:

Across Latin America, capitalism cannot allow even progressive social democratic governments like Bolivia’s to thrive, and with the presidential election approaching, these will only be the first of many vicious attacks against Morales and MAS.

Should read:

Across Latin America, the U.S. regime cannot allow even progressive social democratic governments like Bolivia’s to thrive, and with the presidential election approaching, these will only be the first of many vicious attacks against Morales and MAS.

And let’s call it what it is: Fascism.

iskratov
iskratov
Cynicl Gnome
Cynicl Gnome

Morales is the last of Bolivarian left, outside of besieged Venezuela. I’ve never understood why he doesn’t come in for more flak to be honest. He’s a thorn in the US’ side, but seems to escape the harsh treatment of Cuba and Venezuela.

It almost makes me suspicious of him.

Frank Teaparty
Frank Teaparty

It almost makes me suspicious of him.

I hope that’s meant with your tongue firmly in your cheek. I’ve never heard Morales be anything but supremely reasonable.

Ringo Flaherty
Ringo Flaherty

I would never believe Morales is “controlled opposition” or a “gatekeeper” or whatever the preferred nomenclature may be. But it is certainly true he’s treated with relative softness by the Imperial powers.

I don’t know enough about Bolivia to comment on why, outside of suggesting:

1. Evo is a subtle political genius, even compared to his leftist colleagues in Latin America, and has played his hand so well he’s hard to undermine.
2. US has been trying to oust him for decades and is even more blaringly incompetent in Bolivia than they are everywhere else.
3. Bolivia has nothing the Americans want, and is therefore left alone.

Maybe some mixture of all three.

Loverat
Loverat

I would say fairly good points. I guess also the US is quite stretched causing havoc with Venezuala, Syria, Iran and China and Russia. The other thing I was thinking the other day is that Bolivia is land-locked so aside from trying to stir things up from within, harder to take on more directly given being surrounded by other states. But yes, perhaps mainly Bolivia doesn’t have the plundering potential of the others.

Jen
Jen

Here’s an old Green Left Weekly article from 2008 detailing US attempts to destabilise Bolivia and overthrow Evo Morales through sending humanitarian aid to departmental and local municipal governments in the country, particularly to Santa Cruz province in eastern Bolivia.

mark
mark

Wait till Wall Street decides it needs the lithium deposits of Bolivia.
Then the Eco Warriors of Goldman Sachs will crank into Regime Change action to “save the planet”, “to protect the Amazon”, “to safeguard the lungs of the planet”, in a wholly noble and disinterested way, of course.

Jen
Jen

The likes of the New York Times, Washington Post and the so-called quality British media (British Bull-shitting Corporation, The Fraudian, The Co-Dependent, maybe a couple of others) can only deal with one US regime-change operation at a time.

Also in case you haven’t noticed, in 2013 the US and three European nations effectively conspired to ground Evo Morales’ Presidential plane (in effect,forcing the Bolivian leader himself into detention and also putting his life in danger) in Vienna by denying it airspace and refuelling rights, on the suspicion that the plane was carrying US whistle-blower Edward Snowden and after Morales had joked about offering Snowden asylum while in Moscow. On top of that, Austrian authorities searched the plane for Snowden.

One wonders if any other world leader would have been kidnapped and held hostage the same way, if s/he were not leader of a small nation with little influence outside its continent, and moreover a small nation following a political / economic / social agenda that the US, the UK and their fellow gang members disapprove of.

Robbobbobin
Robbobbobin

“One wonders if any other world leader would have been kidnapped and held hostage the same way, if s/he were not leader of a small nation with little influence outside its continent…”

World leaders and their invisible supporters would attack a local cricket club if it came to light that its groundsman was a paid up member of the National Grasscutters and Hedge Trimmers Union.

Barovsky

Re Evo Morales

See this on Jhanisse Vaca Daza:

https://orinocotribune.com/tag/jhanisse-vaca-daza

As Brazil’s Bolsonaro allows elite landowners to incinerate the Amazon, professional regime-change operatives like Jhanisse V. Daza seek to redirect blame for the fires onto the leftist government of Bolivia, whose President Evo Morales faces elections in October.

/../

With fires set by landowners raging throughout the Amazon for nearly a month, a group of Western-backed information warriors has begun working to redirect outrage from the far-right Brazilian government toward a more convenient target.

After a flurry of media pinned the blame on everyone from poor people eating meat to China, a new target has come into focus: the leftist Bolivian government of President Evo Morales.

Originally content to merely accuse Bolivians of not responding fast enough, the regime-change machine is switching gears and making the absurd claim that Bolivia bears the majority of responsibility for the Amazon fires.

The campaign has been orchestrated by Jhanisse Vaca Daza, an anti-Morales operative identified merely as an “environmental activist” in a recent BBC report pointing the finger at the Bolivian president for the fires.

A closer look at Daza’s work, however, reveals that she is the spearhead of a network of Western organizations that trained and advised the leaders of regime-change operations from Venezuela to Eastern Europe to the ongoing anti-China protests in Hong Kong.

#SOSBolivia

Jhanisse V. Daza’s invective against Bolivia’s Evo Morales social-democratic government, which she regularly caricatures as an “authoritarian regime,” could hardly be cruder.

Say no more.

Barovsky

Whoops, I just realized that the Orinoco Tribune have republished the Grayzone piece.

Barovsky

I checked out the NACLA piece that Novara used as its source on the events and it’s clear that the Novara piece took it completely out of context! Here’s what the NACLA article says about the police use of violence against protestors:

In a Monday evening press conference, President Evo Morales lamented and repudiated the violence and abuses committed by police—while suggesting that the outcome could have been worse, had the marchers been permitted to confront the colonists. He denied ordering the police action and called for a full investigation by a high-level commission of human rights monitors, international organizations, and Bolivia’s independent Ombudsman.

Morales also announced that he would “suspend construction” of the controversial road through the TIPNIS park and indigenous territory, pending the outcome of a national debate and a referendum to be held in the Cochabamba and Beni departments. He emphasized the road’s importance for Bolivia’s economic integration, its basis in past legal norms, and its support by 12 (out of 64) indigenous communities within the TIPNIS.

https://nacla.org/blog/2011/9/28/police-attack-tipnis-marchers-roils-bolivia

Capricornia Man
Capricornia Man

The BBC’s characterisation of Daza as an ‘environmental activist’ is on a par with its description of the hard-right neocon rump in the PLP as ‘moderates’.

Grafter
Grafter

“Capitalism a cancer for mother earth”…………How true.