Klaus Hart Brasilientexte

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“Bolivia for the Bolivians” – Befreiungstheologe Frei Betto.

Ever since the arrival of the Spaniards in the sixteenth century the peoples and the lands of the Bolivian Altiplano suffered exploitation exhaustively.  Towards the end of the century 80% of the silver of the Vice Royalty of Peru came from Potosi which produced 50% of the world™s silver. In 1610, Cerro Rico de Potosi had 180,000 inhabitants. It surpassed the populations of all Spanish cities and equaled London and Paris.

During the republican era the indigenous people continued to be exploited by the white descendants of Europeans. Until Evo Morales™ election as president, a person with an indigenous name could not enter university nor become an officer in the army. In Sucre, the constitutional capital of the country, some restaurants explicitly prohibited the entry of indigenous people.

The eastern part of Bolivian territory, whose main city is Santa Cruz de la Sierra, began to develop in the 1970s thanks to generous donations of large extensions of land to white ”colonizers. The latifundium which relies on indigenous labour, mainly Guarani and Chiquitano, is frequently found to employ slave labour.

The Bolivian elite always governed with a strong arm, squandering the natural riches of the country and encouraging cocaine traffic. The family of Simon Patiño, who owned the tin mines until mid twentieth century, threw parties in Paris which were the envy of European millionaires.

When workers, particularly miners, managed to gain power through pressure, they were violently repressed in the style of the worst dictatorships implanted in Latin America by the USA.

The election of Evo Morales was only made possible after years of strong social mobilization such as occurred with Lula in Brazil. For the first time, in a country whose population is 70% indigenous, an Aimara reached the Presidency. And for the first time the groups who dominated have found themselves out of central power.

They continue to have total dominion over the news media and control the power in the departamentos (states) of Tarija, Santa Cruz, Beni and Pando, where new Bolivian riches are to be found “ gas and petroleum. The governors of all these departamentos are political followers of General Hugo Banzer who was twice president of the country, first through a coup (1971-78) when he implemented a dictatorship supported by USA and another when elected in 1997, governing under state of siege between 2000 and 2001.

Evo Morales inherited a corrupt bankrupt state structure with practically no representation in the more distant departamentos in the Amazon area, Beni and Pando. There, a few families are a law unto themselves.
Whilst they could influence the central power, these oligarchies never spoke of ”autonomy. The objective of the proposals for autonomy is to maintain dominion over lands and natural resources in those departamentos. The so-called autonomous statutes are in truth parallel constitutions, they ignore federal laws as well as the central government.

The oligarchy refuse to accept agrarian reform as approved by the new Constitution which limits rural properties to 5000 hectares and aims at controlling petroleum and gas profits

The expulsion of Ambassador Philip Goldberg “ the bearer of a sinister curriculum marked by his involvement in the wars that divided ex Yugoslavia “ was not an chance action. The government warned him on several occasions regarding his interference in the country™s politics and his relations with opposition groups interested in boycotting the law.

Several strategies were attempted towards weakening the government with support from the White House.  The most recent consisted in a revocatory referendum to decide on whether President Morales should continue in government. Contrary to what was foreseen the government adopted the measure and it back fired: Morales was approved with 67% of the vote, an increase in the percentage which won him the election (54%) even in the departamentos of the so-called ”media luna (half moon) region.

One must remember that after World War II important figures from the Hitler regime escaped to South America. According to Eduardo Simas, a Brazilian who is active in social projects in Bolivia, many installed themselves in Santa Cruz where Croats escaping communism also settled in the 1970s. One of the Nazi leaders was Klaus Barbie ”the butcher of Lyon. He lived in Bolivia for 40 years and supported the dictatorships disseminating Nazi ideology before being captured in 1983. (It was from him that the family of Anne Frank fled and it was he who murdered Jean Moulin, leader of the French Resistance).

In the departamentos which rose up against the government many anti Morales activists belong to neo Nazi groups such as the Uniáo Juvenil Cruceñista (Santa Cruz Youth Union). They are not ashamed to exhibit the swastika in the streets or to threaten and attack people according to the colour of their skin or their place of origin.

A country cannot be owned by a group of families. In Bolivia the indigenous people are the majority. President Lula is right to back the government of Evo Morales and to respect Bolivian sovereignty.

*Frei Betto is a writer, author of ”Cartas de Prisáo (Letters from Prison) (Agir).

He is a Brazilian Dominican with an international reputation as a liberation theologian.
Within Brazil he is equally famous as a writer, with over 52 books to his name.  In 1985 he won Brazil™s most important literary prize, the Jabuti, and was elected Intellectual of the Year by the members of the Brazilian Writers™ Union.Frei Betto has always been active in Brazilian social movements, and has been an adviser to the Church™s ministry to workers in Sáo Paulo™s industrial belt, to the Church base communities, and to the Landless Rural Workers™ Movement (MST).

In 2003-2004, he was Special Adviser to President Lula and Coordinator of Social Mobilisation for the Brazilian Government™s Zero Hunger programme.

Dieser Beitrag wurde am Sonntag, 12. Oktober 2008 um 19:52 Uhr veröffentlicht und wurde unter der Kategorie Politik abgelegt. Du kannst die Kommentare zu diesen Eintrag durch den RSS-Feed verfolgen.

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