In various sectors of the Venezuelan opposition, in the mainstream media or in the usual middle-class “political science trotskyist” circles, a new chant is circulating. The slow exit from the Western blockade is due to the fact that Nicolas Maduro has finally “embraced capitalism” or “taken a neoliberal turn”. For Alberto Barrera Tyszka of the New York Times (1), neoliberalism is even the economic arm of Maduro’s “dictatorship”. The “evidence” varies: from images of posh neighborhoods in Caracas with ostentatious stores, restaurants and luxury casinos, to job offers on digital platforms and the circulation of dollars in the economy. For the “Communist Party of Venezuela” (now in opposition and allied here and there with the right), “the low wages, the reduction of public spending and the so-called privatization attempts framed in the anti-blockade law are expressions of this neoliberalism that confirm Maduro’s distance from Chavismo.”
“El Alto on his feet, never on his knees!” is a slogan that reflects the combative character of the inhabitants of this indigenous Aymara city in Bolivia, which since 2003, has shaped the country’s history. This city led the uprising against the privatization of natural resources in 2003, and then the defense of democracy in the face of the 2019 coup. Both struggles resulted in numerous massacres against those of El Alto who stood up to defend the country. Located at more than 4,000 meters above sea level, it mostly comprises migrants from rural areas between La Paz and the Peruvian border.
We were in our distinct regions when the coup took place. I was the first to leave my province because we met with the grassroots organizations, and they decided, “You are the representative of this province. While we defend our [vote] in the streets, you need to defend it in Parliament. Whatever it takes, you have to get back into Parliament.” I was able to re-enter, and I stayed there, while the rest were on the outside in the streets, communicating with us –they told us everything that was happening– they were being tear-gassed and arrested, they were chased, some lost their shoes, their aguayos or bundles. I chose the role of security inside Parliament. The right wanted to shut down Parliament and rule all branches of government.
Bolivia - Bolivia is living through continuous threats of violence and destabilisation by the far-right minority based in the eastern province of Santa Cruz, which intends to break the constitutional order, and argues that they are fighting a communist dictatorship. On November 30 2020, the former MP Lidia Patty filed a complaint to the Prosecutor’s Office against the coup plotter Luis Fernando Camacho, his father Jose Luis Camacho, former comanding officer of the armed forces General Williams Kaliman, former commanding officer of the police and others, for crimes of terrorism, conspiracy and sedition committed in the coup 2019, which resulted in the resignation of the then president of the Plurinational State of Bolivia Evo Morales. This case is known as “Coup d’etat 1” and lists all the illegal measures taken by Luis Fernando Camacho and his accomplices. Camacho has been summoned four times to make his statement, but he has refused to take part, undermining due process with a clear intention of obstructing legal process.
Laura Richardson, the Chief of the U.S. Southern Command, which oversees military operations in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, spoke about the importance of Latin America’s resources for U.S. foreign policy in an interview with the U.S. think tank Atlantic Council. “Why is this region important?” Richardson asked. “With all its rich resources and rare earth elements, there is the lithium triangle, which today is necessary for technology. Sixty percent of the world’s lithium is found in the lithium triangle: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile.” She also pointed out that “the largest oil reserves, including light and sweet crude, [were] discovered off Guyana more than a year ago.” The general also mentioned Venezuela’s rich oil, copper, and gold resources. She highlighted the importance of the Amazon as “the lungs of the world,” and added that “we have 31 percent of the world’s fresh water in this region.”
Bolivia’s social movements have declared a state of emergency and permanent mobilization in support of President Luis Arce in response to riots in Santa Cruz by groups loyal to arrested coup leader, Luis Fernando Camacho. Social movements that made the declaration include the COB workers confederation, the campesino confederations (CSTUCB, Interculturales), and indigenous organizations (CONAMAQ, Bartolinas). Executive Secretary of the COB, Juan Carlos Huarachi, held a press conference late last night after a meeting President Luis Arce, he said, “Today, all the social movements agree to declare ourselves in a state of emergency for everything that is happening in the department of Santa Cruz.
After a few days of truce due to the festivities, Peruvian farmers, workers, merchants, transporters, and other citizens of the Cusco and Puno regions resumed massive protests to demand the resignation of President Dina Boluarte, the call for early general elections, and the release of former President Pedro Castillo. Roadblocks to the south and north of the country have managed to restrict vehicular traffic on the main Peruvian highways, which has relatively paralyzed normal economic activities. One of the main interconnection roads between Peru and Bolivia, the road from Puno to the city of Desaguadero, is completely blocked by social organizations that joined the strike called for Wednesday.
The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), the left-wing economic and political bloc uniting countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, has forcefully opposed the coup d’etat in Peru and expressed its support for the country’s democratically elected President Pedro Castillo. ALBA member states released a joint declaration stating that they “reject the political trap created by the right-wing forces of that country against the Constitutional President Pedro Castillo, forcing him to take measures that were later used by his adversaries in parliament to oust him from office.” The alliance condemned the violent “repression by the law enforcement agencies against the Peruvian people who are defending a government democratically elected at the polls.”
The governments of Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and Bolivia released a joint statement supporting Peru’s democratically elected President Pedro Castillo, saying he is the victim of “anti-democratic harassment.” Castillo was overthrown in a coup d’etat on December 7, led by the infamously corrupt right-wing opposition that controls Peru’s unicameral congress, which has an approval rating of between 7% and 11%. The US-dominated Organization of American States (OAS) and State Department have openly supported the coup, backing unelected leader Dina Boluarte, who declared herself president in collaboration with the congress. Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, and Colombia wrote that they “express their profound concern for the recent events that resulted in the removal and detention of José Pedro Castillo Terrones, president of the Republic of Peru.”
Santa Cruz, Bolivia - Far-right opposition groups in the city of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, are violating international law by attacking health workers and hindering the passage of ambulances. The city’s police have registered more than 20 cases of physical attacks against health workers and ambulances, many of them resulting in patients being unable to reach a medical center. Protesters say they want the national census to be brought forward six months, and their preferred tactic is to block roads and demand payment from anyone who wants to pass through. Those who fail to comply are assaulted by young men armed with sticks and baseball bats. The secretary of the Health Workers union at the San Juan de Dios Hospital, Ulises Guzmán, said, “I don’t know what they are waiting for, maybe for someone from our sector to die so that they just give us guarantees?”
Santa Cruz, Bolivia - On November 23, 33 days after the start of a violent indefinite strike in Bolivia’s Santa Cruz department, a key agreement was reached between far-right sectors in the department and the national government on the date of the Population and Housing Census. Luis Fernando Camacho, the far-right opposition leader, governor of Santa Cruz and one of the organizers of the strike, accepted that the census would be held in March 2024 and called on the legislators of Creemos and Citizens Community parties to accept this agreement as well. Nevertheless, the strike, sparked by the census disagreement, persists and the climate of violence and insecurity continues to intensify.
In the last 21 days former coup leader and current governor of the Department of Santa Cruz, Luis Fernando Camach, has been allowed “to carry out a coup d’état in the city of Santa Cruz,” in the words of Pedro Damián Dorado, vice president of the association of municipalities of the department by the same name. Constant media misinformation is the glue that holds together Camacho’s base, which can be counted in the nearly 230,000, mostly middle-class people who turned out for his latest political meeting. In late October, Camacho launched the shutdown of the city for the foreseeable future. It is Bolivia’s largest and most prosperous metropolis – and the economic motor of the country. Camacho is a very rich man and to preserve the wealth of the few, he is once again acting as a threat to Bolivian democracy.
Santa Cruz, Bolivia - This Sunday, November 13, the leadership of the Single Trade Union Federation of Peasant Workers of Santa Cruz described the burning down of its headquarters in the capital of Santa Cruz, which occurred on Friday, as an act of terrorism. It was denounced at a national and international level, in order for those responsible to be punished. “It was a criminal attack that they launched on our federation, we denounced this act of terrorism at the national and international level,” said Franklin Vargas, the organization’s top leader, in an interview with Bolivian state media. Vargas recalled how the violent events occurred at the headquarters when 60 to 70 people were inside.