>On December 9 Bolivia’s Constituent Assembly approved President’s Evo Morales’ new national constitution that would expand his powers, including over natural resources, following his nationalization of Bolivia’s oil and natural gas industry in 2006. This past Saturday four states expressed their opposition to the communization of their country by seceding from Bolivia and effectively bringing the South American country to the brink of civil war. More than one third of Bolivia’s population lives in these four states alone. Pictured above: Governor Ruben Costas of the secessionist state of Santa Cruz addresses supporters after the approval of the declaration of autonomy from La Paz. Under this statute Santa Cruz will retain nearly two-thirds of the tax revenues it currently remits to central authorities, but a popular referendum is still required for legitimacy, at least in that state.
Four Bolivian regions declare autonomy from government
updated 10:54 p.m. EST, Sat December 15, 2007
From Helena DeMoura CNN
(CNN) — Tensions were rising in Bolivia on Saturday as members of the country’s four highest natural gas-producing regions declared autonomy from the central government.
Thousands waved the Santa Cruz region’s green-and-white flags in the streets as council members of the Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando districts made the public announcement.
The officials displayed a green-bound document containing a set of statutes paving the way to a permanent separation from the Bolivian government.
Council representatives vowed to legitimize the so-called autonomy statutes through a referendum that would legally separate the natural-gas rich districts from President Evo Morales’ government.
The move also aims to separate the states from Bolivia‘s new constitution, which calls for, among other things, a heavier taxation on the four regions to help finance more social programs.
“The statutes will be ratified,” said Oscar Ortiz, Santa Cruz senator. “With a public referendum, the people of our region will legitimize their will.”
About 35 percent of Bolivia’s 9.5 million people live in the four states, according to The Associated Press.
In the meantime, Bolivian network ATV showed what appeared to be armed, pro-government protesters creating blockades around the town of Yapacani, on the outskirts of Santa Cruz.
Some indigenous pro-Morales groups claim Bolivia’s richer, white-ruled Eastern regions want to control the country’s natural resources. Bolivia has South America’s second-largest natural gas reserves, behind Venezuela. Most of it is produced in the Eastern regions.
In the capital city La Paz on Saturday, Morales addressed thousands of flag-waving supporters in the Plaza Murillo, defending the new constitution and lashing out against what he called the racist policies of Bolivia’s elite.
“They must give back the money they took from us,” he told a cheering crowd, which included members of the Quechua and Aymara tribes. “We will retroactively investigate all the big fortunes, and the corrupt are now trembling with fear.”
Morales also cautioned those who he said want a “a division, a coup d’etat,” the AP reported.
“We won’t permit Bolivia to be divided,” he warned.
Morales — who belongs to the Aymara indigenous group — nationalized the country’s oil and natural gas reserves when he took power in 2006, creating what became known as the “gas wars.”
Running on a platform of redistribution of wealth among Bolivia’s poor, Morales has defied countries such as Brazil and the United States for the exploration of Bolivia’s natural reserves.
He has also protested the country’s racial divide.
“Bolivia is a nation among nations,” he said Saturday, referring to the diversity of Indian nations whose traditions date back centuries.
“We are not a country of blue-eyed, green-eyed folks only. It’s a plurinational country made of dark-skinned and white-skinned. This new constitution will unite us.”
The Katanga Crisis of 1960-1961: A Case Study in Anti-Communist Secessionism
A brief survey of the long-forgotten Katanga crisis of 1960-1961 sheds light on the current crisis in Bolivia. On July 11, 1960 the anti-communist government of the state of Katanga seceded from the Republic of the Congo, the central government of which had been taken over by Soviet-backed communists under the incipient dictatorship of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. After Colonel Mobutu Sese Seko seized power in his first coup on September 14, Lumumba was deposed and transported to Katanga where he was allegedly executed by Katangan troops in the presence of Belgian officials on January 17, 1961. The following month the United Nations expressed its solidarity with the deceased Lumumba with the following resolution:
The Security Council . . . having learned with deep regret the announcement of the killing of the Congolese leader, Mr. Patrice Lumumba . . . urges that measures be taken for the immediate withdrawal and evacuation from the Congo of all Belgian and other foreign military and paramilitary personnel and political advisors not under United Nations command. . . .
At the same time Lumumba’s deputy prime minister Antoine Gizenga organized a secessionist regime in Stanleyville, where he ruled as “prime minister” from December 13, 1960 to August 5, 1961. Gizenga’s regime was recognized by 21 African, Asian, and Eastern European countries in February 1961. G. Edward Griffin, writing in his classic expose The Fearful Master: A Second Look at the United Nations (1964), provides an eye-opening outline of Gizenga’s resume:
There is no better illustration of this than the circumstances surrounding United Nations and Washington support of the so-called “moderate” central Government that emerged after Lumumba’s death. To tell that part of the story, however, it is necessary to take a closer look at Antoine Gizenga.
Gizenga was a minor personality in Congolese politics until he was invited to Prague, Czechoslovakia, for Communist cadre training. When he returned, he became one of Lumumba’s strongest supporters and worked closely with him to implement plans for the Communist take-over of the whole Congo. When Lumumba was arrested and then killed, Gizenga set himself up as Lumumba’s successor. He established a Communist regime in the neighboring province of Orientale and gathered all of Lumumba’s followers around him. The Soviet and Czechoslovakian diplomats and consular officials who were kicked out of Leopoldville by Colonel Mobutu popped up in the Gizenga stronghold of Stanleyville where they quickly received official accreditation. The Soviets lost no time in announcing to the world that they now recognized Gizenga’s regime as the “only legitimate Government of the Congo.”
In short, Gizenga was a communist and therefore his insurrectionist government was supported by the UN.
On August 2, 1961, the Congolese parliament approved Cyrille Adoula as the new premier. Adoula then “announced that Antoine Gizenga, leader of the Communist faction in Stanleyville, had been appointed to the number two spot of vice-premier.” The UN dispatched its troops to brutally bring Katanga under the re-formed communist regime in Leopoldville, later renamed as Kinshasa. Griffin’s book, linked above, chronicles in detail the merciless, face-saving UN military operation that denied freedom to Katanga.
More than three decades later, in May 1997, Marxist rebel Laurent-Désiré Kabila and his Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo ousted Mobutu. Kabila became president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo until his assassination in January 2001, at which time he was replaced by his son Joseph. Gizenga survived imprisonment and exile to re-enter Congolese politics in the twenty-first century. President Joseph Kabila appointed the old African communist as prime minister on December 30, 2006. After patiently laboring for 32 years to oust the Mobutu military regime, which was formally installed during the colonel’s second coup in 1965, the communists, operating through Kabila’s People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy and Gizenga’s Unified Lumumbist Party, again control the Congo.
Fast forward to Bolivia 2007. Will the UN again dispatch its troops to suppress states seceding from a communist-controlled central government? Or will Trotskyist President Evo Morales request additional troops from Venezuela to supplement the ones currently in his country and assist the Bolivian army in suppressing the rebels?
Meanwhile, neo-communist Venezuela and Brazil are consolidating their strategic parternship in a move that should dispel any notions that Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who co-founded the narco-terrorist Sao Paulo Forum with Cuban Tyrant Fidel Castro, has somehow moderated his leftist ideology. Think again. Granma, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of Cuba, reports that the state oil companies PDVSA (Venezuela) and PETROBRAS (Brazil) will form a joint enterprise for the construction and operation of a refinery in the Brazilian province of Pernambuco. Lula da Silva made a short trip to Caracas on December 14 wheer this agreement was inked.
Venezuela-Brazil strategic alliance
December 14, 2007
CARACAS (PL).— The strategic alliance between Venezuela and Brazil has emerged today as an important element in the development of two of South America’s main economies, supported by their respective strengths and the signing of new commercial agreements.
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s short visit to Venezuela produced nine new agreements in the areas of health care, agriculture, food and the oil industry.
Once again the energy component took center stage with the decision by the state oil companies PDVSA (Venezuela) and PETROBRAS (Brazil) to create a joint enterprise for the construction and operation of a refinery in the Brazilian province of Pernambuco. Brazil will control 60% of the consortium.
The plant will have the capacity to process 200,000 barrels of oil daily and will be supplied by PDVSA with up to 100,000 tons a day from the Orinoco oil fields.
The Venezuelan company indicated that options remain open for further participation by PETROBRAS in crude oil processing projects.
Joint work in the Carabobo Block I project has facilitated the certification of 45.5 billion barrels of oil onsite.
Lula and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez discussed the possibility of establishing a binational investment fund, for supporting other joint ventures.
The new agreements, signed just days before the MERCOSUR Summit, constitute a positive development strengthening the Venezuelan position in support of regional integration.
In addition to cooperation between state enterprises, Latin Ameria’s Red Axis is also opting out of the United Nations’ financial institutions, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which apparently are not communist enough in their orientation for ideologues like Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, by establishing the Bank of the South, or Banco del Sur. The documents that will organize the new regional bank were signed by seven national leaders at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires on December 10. Commenting on the new institution, President Lula da Silva said: “The bank’s formation is a decisive step towards the integration of South America, and we invite other countries in the region to join.”