Amy Goodman

A view from the South

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Evo Morales knows about “change you can believe in.” He also knows what happens when a powerful elite is forced to make changes it doesn’t want.

Morales is the first indigenous president of Bolivia, the poorest country in South America. He was inaugurated in January 2006. Against tremendous internal opposition, he nationalized Bolivia’s natural-gas fields, transforming the country’s economic stability and, interestingly, enriching the very elite that originally criticized the move.

Yet last September, the backlash came to a peak. In an interview in New York this week, Morales told me: “The opposition, the right-wing parties ... decided to do a violent coup. ... They couldn’t do it.”

In response, presidents from South American nations met in Chile for an emergency summit, led by the two women presidents, Michelle Bachelet of Chile and Cristina Kirchner of Argentina. The group issued a statement condemning the violence and supporting Morales.

Morales continued in our interview: “The reason why I’m here in the U.S.: I want to express my respect to the international community, because everybody condemned the coup against democracy to the rule of law—everybody but the U.S., but the ambassador of the U.S. It’s incredible.”

After the attempted coup, Morales ejected U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg, declaring, “He is conspiring against democracy and seeking the division of Bolivia.” Morales went on: “He used to call me the Andean bin Laden. And the coca growers, he used to call them Taliban. ... Permanently, from the State Department of the U.S., I have been accused of being a drug trafficker and a terrorist. And even now that I’m president, that continues on the part of the embassy. I know it does not come from the American people.”

Morales has now given the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration three months to leave the country, and announced at the United Nations Monday that the DEA will not be allowed back. Morales was a “cocalero,” a coca grower. Coca is central to Bolivian indigenous culture and the local economy. As Roger Burbach, director of the Center for the Study of the Americas, writes, “Morales advocated ‘Coca Yes, Cocaine No,’ and called for an end to violent U.S.-sponsored coca eradication raids, and for the right of Bolivian peasants to grow coca for domestic consumption, medicinal uses and even for export as an herb in tea and other products.”

Morales aims to preserve the Bolivian heritage of coca growing, while eliminating the scourge of drug trafficking. He says the U.S. uses the war on drugs as a cover to destabilize his country: “If they really fought against drug trafficking, it would be very different.” He said the South American leaders are finally organizing amongst themselves: “We are actually setting up a national intelligence in collaboration with our neighbors Argentina, Chile, Brazil. And that way, the fight against drug trafficking is going to be more effective, but it’s going to be something that has a political element in it. If we don’t permit the DEA to come back, that doesn’t mean we’ll break relationships with the U.S.”

The resurgent democracies in Latin America are hoping for better relations with an Obama administration. On the election of the first African-American U.S. president, the first indigenous president of Bolivia told me, “Maybe we can complement each other to look for equality among people, people who are here on Mother Earth.” After we spoke, Morales headed off to Washington, D.C., to visit the Lincoln Memorial and to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “I want to honor my brothers, the movement, the Afro-American movement. I have the obligation to honor the people who preceded us, the ones who fought for the respect of human rights and rights in general.”

Thousands are gathering outside Fort Benning, Ga., this weekend for the annual mass protest and civil disobedience against the U.S. School of the Americas (now called WHINSEC), a military training facility that is alleged to have trained hundreds of Latin American soldiers who have gone home to commit human-rights violations. The wounds of U.S. intervention in Latin America are still raw. President-Elect Obama has an opportunity to reach out and grab the extended olive branch being offered by President Morales.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column. Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America. She has been awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and will receive the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

SVCR Aaron Neville
Past Columns
Real Election Fraud

July 12, 2017

White House for Sale

June 21, 2017

Produce the note

February 4, 2009

A long train ride

January 21, 2009

Israeli voices for peace

January 7, 2009

Voices of resistance sing on

December 31, 2008

Bush and the monkey wrench guy

December 23, 2008

A tale of two Nobel nations

December 9, 2008

Unchaining history

November 5, 2008

Election protection

October 29, 2008

Invasion of the Sea-Smurfs

October 8, 2008

Events
Today
Sounds by the bay

9:41am

Look to the skies

8:43pm

Sounds by the bay

9:41am

Look to the skies

8:43pm

Sounds by the bay

9:41am

Look to the skies

8:43pm

Sounds by the bay

9:41am

Look to the skies

8:43pm

Marrowstone Music Festival

7:00pm|Western Washington University

Kids' Craft Fairs

10:00am|Area libraries

Sounds by the bay

9:41am

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Lynden Farmers Market

12:00pm|Front Street

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Bow Farmers Market

1:00pm|Samish Bay Cheese

Bard on the Beach

2:00pm|Vanier Park

Blues and Brews

5:00pm|Hotel Bellwether

Riverwalk Summer Concert Series

6:00pm|Riverwalk Plaza

Concerts in the Columbia

6:00pm

Greek Summer Menu

6:30pm|Cordata Community Food Co-op

Welcome to the cardboard jungle

6:30pm

Skagit River Shakespeare Festival

7:00pm|Rexville Grange Amphitheater

Balkan Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Graffiti Dance Theater

7:30pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

I and You

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Bellingham Farmer’s Market
Tomorrow
Sounds by the bay

9:41am

Look to the skies

8:43pm

Sounds by the bay

9:41am

Look to the skies

8:43pm

Sounds by the bay

9:41am

Look to the skies

8:43pm

Sounds by the bay

9:41am

Look to the skies

8:43pm

Marrowstone Music Festival

7:00pm|Western Washington University

Kids' Craft Fairs

10:00am|Area libraries

Sounds by the bay

9:41am

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

2:00pm|Vanier Park

Skagit River Shakespeare Festival

7:00pm|Rexville Grange Amphitheater

Graffiti Dance Theater

7:30pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

I and You

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Wild Things

9:30am|Boulevard Park

Quilt Project

10:00am|Deming Library

Plover Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Whatcom Old Settlers Picnic

12:00pm|Pioneer Park

Valley Writers

1:00pm|South Whatcom Library

Ferndale Farmers Market

3:00pm|Centennial Riverwalk Park

Sin & Gin Tours

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Anacortes Summer Concert Series

6:00pm|Seafarers Park

Dancing on the Green

7:00pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Lion King Jr.

7:00pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Burlington Summer Nights

7:00pm|Burlington Visitors Center Amphitheater

American Portraits

7:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

The Cemetery Club

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

An Improvised Musical

9:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Bellingham Farmer’s Market Lester and Hyldahl
Saturday
Sounds by the bay

9:41am

Look to the skies

8:43pm

Sounds by the bay

9:41am

Look to the skies

8:43pm

Sounds by the bay

9:41am

Look to the skies

8:43pm

Sounds by the bay

9:41am

Look to the skies

8:43pm

Marrowstone Music Festival

7:00pm|Western Washington University

Sounds by the bay

9:41am

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

2:00pm|Vanier Park

Skagit River Shakespeare Festival

7:00pm|Rexville Grange Amphitheater

Graffiti Dance Theater

7:30pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

I and You

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Whatcom Old Settlers Picnic

12:00pm|Pioneer Park

Plover Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Sin & Gin Tours

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Lion King Jr.

7:00pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

The Cemetery Club

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

An Improvised Musical

9:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Tour de Whatcom

7:30am|Boundary Bay Brewery

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Twin Sisters Farmers Market

9:00am|North Fork Library, Nugents Corner

Mount Vernon Farmers Market

9:00am|Riverfront Plaza

Old Settlers 5K

9:00am|Pioneer Park

Lummi Island Saturday Market

10:00am|Lummi Island

Blaine Gardeners Market

10:00am|H Street Plaza

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Public Sail

10:00am|Cap Sante Marina

Cold Brew Coffee Class

10:30am|Community Food Co-op

Plover Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Rockin' the Park

12:00pm|Lake Associates Recreation Club

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Farm to Glass Distillery Tours

12:00pm|BelleWood Acres

Nooksack River Walk

3:00pm|Horseshoe Bend Trailhead

Rocks the Farm

4:00pm|Bellingham Country Gardens

Seabear Sounds

5:00pm|Heart of Anacortes

Salish Stories

7:00pm|Chair 9

Mr. Feelgood and the Firm Believers

7:00pm|Boulevard Park

Brian Regan National Tour

8:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Look to the skies

8:43pm

see our complete calendar ยป

Village Books Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Trove Bellingham Farmer’s Market Lester and Hyldahl