Thursday, April 22, 2010

Naomi Klein interviewed at the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, Cochabamba, Bolivia

Canadian activist and author of The Shock Doctrine - The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein, was asked by Bolivia TV for her views on the climate change disaster facing the planet last night. Klein, who was voted 11th in a poll of the world's top intellectuals, is currently taking part in the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The conference was organised by Bolivian president, Evo Morales, after world leaders' monumental failure to reach an agreement on global warming in Copenhagen last year. Unwilling to leave the fate of the planet in the hands of politicians, the World People's Conference is aiming to give a voice to grass roots activists and populations effected  by climate change worldwide. 

In a relatively short but info packed interview, Klein commented on the following topics:


Klein put the blame for the summit's failure squarely on the shoulders of Barack Obama who, soon after receiving his Nobel Peace Prize award, came to the table at Copenhagen "only to overturn it". Rather than embracing the democratic principles he so enjoys preaching, he tried to get away with doing a closed door "global" deal  with only 5 other countries at the table. Klein characterised this deal as a "Devil's agreement". The terms of the US agreement failed to reduce carbon emissions to levels that would stop global warming, allowing global destruction such as the disappearance of Bolivia's glaciers to continue unabated. To recompense affected countries, a "bribe" would be paid to force acceptance and adaptation to the devastating environmental changes. Unsurprisingly, the deal was rejected by the vast majority of nations not party to the secretive talks. 


Klein then went on to talk about the increasing concern of the US government, particularly the military, with regard to the potential consequences of climate change on US immigration and general world stability. CIA and Pentagon papers, Klein said, alluded to fears of a flood of immigrants to the US, a consequence of displacement caused by the  effects of global warming. The US reaction to this "threat" would be to turn the country into a fortress, Klein added. The number of wars around the world would also rise as the US and other powerful nations competed for the planet's increasingly scarce resources. 


Climate Debt
Klein fully supported affected countries' claims to compensation from the world's biggest carbon polluters. The idea was simple, if you break something you should pay for it. However, she added that compensation was not enough, polluting countries had to reduce their emissions as well. 

Climate Tribunal
She then highlighted the importance of enforcement of climate agreements as a key topic being debated at the conference by citing her own home country as an example. Canada, she said, was a "climate criminal". Since signing the Kyoto Agreement, its emissions had increased by 35%. Without a climate tribunal with the power to enforce climate regulation, the whole exercise was futile. 

Protection of "whole ecosystem"
Klein concluded that any successful climate policy must protect the complete ecosystem of the planet. Humans should also be considered a "natural" part of the ecosystem. 


Bolivia's fight for survival can help save democracy too

by Naomi Klein

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Genius of Hugo Chavez - Massive Joint Venture Oil Deals with Russia and China

Venezuelan oil reserves were once the exclusive property of the USA. It's corrupt political puppets in Venezuela granted oil rights to US companies at bargain prices and annexed a handsome share of the profits for themselves. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. Hugo Chavez, elected in 1998 with 59% of the vote on the platform of fairly sharing the oil wealth, regained state control of the petroleum industry in 2004. It's no surprise that, since then, he has been subject to an intense barrage of political propaganda from US media outlets. Despite being democratically elected in some of the cleanest elections on the continent, he is consistently characterised as a dictator by the US political elite. The US are even stationing their military on the soil of Venezuela's neighbour, Colombia, under the guise of the "War on Drugs". Anybody the least bit familiar with historical US interventions on South American soil recognise this military build up as nothing less than bully boy tactics.

Chavez understands that power comes in numbers. His strategy in dealing with US aggression has been to form strategic unions with Latin American countries and other important world powers. Yesterday saw the consolidation of arguably the most important of Venezuela's geopolitical relationships - that with China. Most economists recognise that China will surpass the US as the world's major economic power in the next 40 to 50 years. Chavez has capitalised on this fact by forming a huge $20bn joint venture with China to develop the oil reserves of the Orinoco block, the world's biggest, off the coast of Venezuela. Chavez took the time to highlight the difference between historical financing arrangements with US organisations, such as the IMF, that came with a host of US friendly conditions and the new deal with China, that's condition free.

This latest agreement comes weeks after a similar deal with Russia. Venezuela also has other oil deals with Japan, Argentina, Italy and Spain. Chavez's ultimate aim is to emancipate Venezuela and South America from US influence. The formation of long-term oil-development joint ventures that strengthen political alliances with non-US powers is the perfect way to achieve this.

Monday, April 12, 2010

3 of Bolivia's best Andean folk music bands

Los Kjarkas

Kala Marka


The Law of the Jungle: 8th anniversary of the failed coup d'état attempt in Venezuela, 11th April 2002

8 years ago, whilst the military and police were oppressing the masses on the streets of Caracas, the private media outlets were providing their support to the coup plotters by maintaining absolute silence on the matter. Whilst people were being shot, one channel even broadcast the famous Disney cartoon "The Jungle Book" to trick the public into thinking that this was just another day. Words alone can barely do justice to the intense drama as events unfolded over the following 47 hours. For a fascinating insider's view of these events, direct from the palace of Miraflores, from the day of the coup until Chavez finally regained power from Venezuela's extreme right just two days later, I urge you to watch the below documentary, "The revolution will not be televised", 

Friday, April 9, 2010

Álvaro Uribe's interview on CNN en Español. A perfect example of highly biased US media reporting on South America

Anybody who's familiar with the history of US involvement in South America's affairs won't be  surprised to hear that so called respected US media outlets are highly biased towards pro-US forces on the continent. Last night's CNN en Español interview of Álvaro Uribe was a perfect example of a famous news channel displaying absolute contempt for real journalism.

Alberto Padilla, CNN's "reporter", was given the opportunity to  interview the pro-US Colombian president, currently hosting the World Economic Forum in Cartagena, Colombia. Any journalist worth his salt would have pressured Uribe on Colombia's shameful human rights record as highlighted by groups such as Amnesty International. Instead, Padilla behaved like a shameless sycophant, concluding that Uribe is leaving his post with much recognition in Latin America and abroad. 

Recognition, yes. But of the notorious kind. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Evo no MAS? An analysis of Bolivia's local elections, 4th April 2010

Elections for mayors and governors across Bolivia have just concluded. Movimiento Al Socialismo (Movement Towards Socialism), the party of President Evo Morales, made gains across the country but it was a far cry from his sweeping 63% victory in the presidential elections just 4 months earlier. There were no major surprises in the passionately anti-Morales east, which was won by the traditional opposition parties, the only exception being Pando. The much more illuminating results were those from Evo’s traditional strongholds, El Alto and La Paz.

El Alto is a bastion for Evo and MAS. It’s a sprawling, disorganised and densely populated city that looks down on La Paz from the edge of the Antiplano. The ever growing population of El Alto is primarily made up of the decedents of migrants who left the countryside to earn a better living in the city and they are constantly being joined by new migrants doing the same. It’s poor, it’s Aymaran, and it’s Evo through and through. Well, until tonight that is. 90+% of El Alto backed Evo in the December 09 presidential elections but this time the mayoral candidate for MAS, Edgar Patana, got just 36%, winning by a margin of just 4%. Evo’s party doesn't have a majority in the local government that propelled him to two-thirds control of the national parliament. Analysts from the opposition channel, UNITEL, took this rejection as a sign of Evo’s failing policies. But this is grossly misleading.

Four months ago, Morales’ main presidential opposition was an old school right-wing politician, Mafred Reyes Villa, widely assumed to be corrupt and who, in the eyes of the Morales faithful, represented Bolivia’s tumultuous past. He fled to Miami days after losing the election to escape corruption charges. These latest elections have seen the emergence of a new opposition that, thankfully, is a completely different breed to the likes of Reyes-Villa. Runner up for mayor of El Alto with 32% of the vote was a twenty something newcomer to the political scene Soledad Chapéton. Like her fellow candidates, she’s a local Alteno. But unlike her older male MAS counterpart, who rested on his laurels assuming an easy victory, she campaigned from house to house, putting forward a fresh and credible message that resonated with those who voted for Evo last December. She’s definitely one to watch in the future and her appearance on the political scene is a sign of a healthy democracy in Bolivia.

Similarly, in La Paz, a new socialist party is offering a serious alternative to Evo's MAS. The incumbent mayor of La Paz, Juan del Granado’s Movimiento Sin Miedo (Movement Without Fear) was popularised after a very public falling out with Evo Morales. MSM overturned the opinion polls and won the all important mayor’s office in La Paz. Despite being no spring chicken, the charismatic and popular del Granado is already being tipped as a potential presidential candidate in 5 years time. The new mayor, Luis Revilla, was simply much more credible than the candidate shipped in by Evo. His candidate, Elizabeth Salguero, had no experience, barely knew La Paz and according to people close to her, didn’t even like cities! Pacenos didn't appreciate Evo forcing this highly inappropriate candidate upon them.

Evo’s response to the disappointing results and the emergence of new political foes was positive. He affirmed the formation of political parties as a constitutional right of all Bolivians and welcomed the appearance of the new challengers. Bolivia’s democracy has been strengthened by Evo’s new constitution. Controls now in place make election fraud extremely difficult. His government recently passed much needed anti-corruption laws. However, having laid the foundations for a healthy democracy, it remains to be seen whether Evo can work constructively with the new parties, especially MSM, given the bad blood with its leader. He's not scared of bringing in new (especially female) candidates into the party and may consider trying to poach Soledad Chápeton as a shortcut to solving his problems. But many analysts point to the lack of new leaders in his party as evidence that Evo doesn't want serious challengers to emerge. A common complaint from the Evo faithful is that, although they trust him, they don't trust the people around him. His middle class supporters dislike his increasingly confrontational and belligerent style. If Evo wants to regain the support of his traditional base, he needs to listen to what the Bolivian people have told him via these elections.

***Update 9th April 2010

My El Alto contacts insist that Soledad Chápeton's strong performance in the election was more a protest vote against the unpopular MAS candidate, Edgar Patana, than evidence of her popularity

© 2010 by The Veins of Latin America