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Chávez and the New "Idiot Right" in Bolivia

Posted in the database on Thursday, December 01st, 2005 @ 18:53:12 MST (993 views)
by Luis Gomez    The Narcosphere  

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Venezuela is once again at odds with other Latin American governments. This time, it’s with Bolivia, because of the general elections coming on December 18. Once again, the Latin American right is reacting with “rage” to a president who wins elections and has the support of his people. And in the middle are the Bolivian Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party, a Venezuelan official, and a bunch of idiots burning a Venezuelan flag in front of that country’s embassy in La Paz. Let’s take a look at the gossip, kind readers.

It simply won’t do for don Azael Valero to say such ugly things about former president Jorge “Tuto” Quiroga (now second in the race to occupy the big chair in the Palace of Government, according to the latest poll). Oh, dear — the commercial attaché to the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has really botched this one and come out as the bad guy. Look, kind readers: calling Quiroga a “candidate of the empire and of the transnational corporations,” is just not acceptable. Señor Valero even said it on two television stations last Wednesday, November 23… and then the Bolivian foreign minister jumped right into the fray, saying that he was worried by such a “clear interference in internal affairs that are not the concern of a foreign diplomatic representative in our country.”

And the Rodríguez government has a point, because Azael Valero spoke very sincerely and he has no business criticizing ex-President Quiroga, the champion of free trade. The press statement quoted above had just barely come out and both the Bolivian commercial media and Quiroga’s political party were up to their old tricks, profiting from it. Yesterday, there was a “citizen” march to the Venezuelan embassy to protest the “interference” and, while they were at it, burn a Venezuelan flag right on Arce Avenue to demonstrate that some people are indeed pained when others meddle in their fatherland. Strangely, all those people showed up without the march having been promoted at all. Now that the henhouse is all riled up, everyone in the country is squabbling over it (and some, like Quiroga and his party, are even seeking electoral advantages)…

This online newspaper, which really wanted to stay as far away as possible from the electoral circus in Bolivia, seizes this opportunity and very diplomatically recommends that Valero be punished with three hard spanks and two hours in the corner, and that he not be served any more rum until Christmas. But before sending our proposal to the government of democratically elected President Hugo Chávez Frías, kind readers, let’s continue with this ugly gossip, Narco News style.

Letters from the “Candidate of the Empire”

It all started when don Tuto Quiroga decided to write a few letters to the Venezuelan president as part of his campaign, protesting what Quiroga considers interference in Bolivian politics. In a tone more doleful than firm, Quiroga has sent Hugo Chávez four missives. In the first, the candidate from the Democratic and Social Power ticket (abbreviated in Spanish as “Podemos,” which also means “we can”) makes a series of political observations and a few criticisms, especially because Venezuela supported a Chilean for leader of the Organization of American States (OAS). That, according to Tuto, is contradictory to Chávez’s declared support for Bolivia in its maritime dispute with Chile.

In the second and third letters, the former Bolivian president keeps on singing his sea shanty about the Chileans; he also insists on Bolivian “sovereignty,” because according to Quiroga, Hugo Chávez was threatening this with his declarations and biases (it’s no secret to anyone that the Venezuelan president is a friend of Evo Morales). But things really get ugly in the third letter, because Quiroga concludes, without giving any proof, that Chávez has had power or influence in “activating” the mobilizations that have shook Bolivia in past months: “It remains relevant that some international media have attributed to him a decisive influence in ‘deactivating’ the crisis that recently afflicted Bolivia. If someone has the power to ‘deactivate,’ one could infer that he also had something to do with the mobilizations’ ‘activation.’”

Ouch… but don Tuto Quiroga doesn’t stop there. In fact he accuses “a few” in Bolivia of being Hugo Chávez’s “godchildren.” (As in The Godfather, wonders this correspondent? Or as in receiving a little money once in a while, like my godfather used to send me?) He further accuses them of wanting to turn this country into a “satellite of his political project.” Can Quiroga prove these untruths, or is this just an exercise in the style of Roger F. Noriega when he worked for the Bush administration?

Well, there is one entertaining part of this third epistle from Quiroga to Chávez:

Be sure that if there are a few who hope for that, the rest of us want a Bolivia of progress, peace, and prosperity; the rest of us want a sovereign Bolivia, independent of any external power, whether that be the United States, another country, or the political project that you hope to export. And the rest of us, as will become clear, are many more [than that “few”].

This beautiful, sentimental, and patriotic paragraph leaves one thing clear, I think: that Jorge Quiroga’s “rest of us” who are “many more” make up around 27 percent of the voters, considerably less than the 33 percent Evo Morales has according to the latest, above-mentioned poll. And that “rest” surely included the hundred who marched against Hugo Chávez Frías yesterday, because several Bolivian media found Podemos party members among the demonstration…

Letter #4 to the Comandante from Abroad

On November 10, don Tuto Quiroga, obviously worried (though whether by the polls or something else, we don’t know), picked up his pen once again and wrote yet another letter to the president of Venezuela. Indeed, on his official campaign website, Quiroga’s team has posted the four missives in a section titled “In Defense of the Country.” (Check it out, kind readers: the campaigning Quiroga is defending the country from Chávez… aren’t Bolivians lucky people?) And he goes on about the maritime issue and the support for Insulza in the OAS (the ex-president is obsessive)… and he goes on about Chávez’s “meddling…”

Among other things, Quiroga accuses Chávez of wanting to hold back Bolivia’s economic development: “A second issue has to do with a news item published November 9 in a Chilean newspaper, about the participation of his country, Argentina, and Brazil in the construction of an energy ‘mega-syndicate’ that will exclude Bolivia. Put another way, what his government hopes to do is rob my country of its principal gas markets, and leave us as mere observers of a process that will damage our development. Obviously that is something that, out of dignity, we are not going to allow.”

While Quiroga claims that this “mega-syndicate” would rob Bolivia of its principal gas markets, and very dignifiedly threatens to impede the supposed economic blockade, he offers no proof for what he says… How would they rob Bolivia of those markets? In the open competition of free trade? Which markets? The Argentine and Brazilian ones? The Chilean, which was in part the motive for the October 2003 insurrection in this country?

Finally, after stating his demands and complaints about Venezuela’s behavior toward Bolivia, Jorge Quiroga closes his fourth letter marvelously:

Be secure in the knowledge that in the approaching election, we Bolivians will not accept the presence of a “comandante” from outside. In this election, we are going to vote for a president from within, one that defends us at any time, in any place, and without humiliating himself before anyone.

The President “From Within”

Well, yeah, the Bolivian people are going to vote next December 18 for a “president from within”; you’ve got that right, Mr. Quiroga. And you are now running a campaign to see if you can end up in that office. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it. You want to be that president that “defends us at any time, in any place, and without humiliating himself before anyone.” How nice… let’s just hope that doesn’t mean more deaths in this country, like when you governed previously it and in the first 180 days of your one-year administration, at least 57 people died at the hands of your repressive security forces…

Did I forget to mention that a great part of the deaths during the Quiroga administration were cocaleros, coca growers from the Chapare… in other words, Evo Morales’ people? Didn’t we already mention that Evo is first in the polls right now? Yes, Evo Morales, Chávez’s best friend in Bolivia… which lets us infer that Quiroga is talking about him —though he never mentions Morales by name his letters — when he speaks of “godchildren.”

And from this, we can infer (in the same way that Jorge Quiroga infers and implies throughout his own letters) that defending Bolivia and its interests has to do with, for example, the famous Supreme Decree #26366, signed by the former president on October 24, 2001, which allows multinational oil companies to partly free themselves from their obligation to invest and exploit hydrocarbons (that is, spend money in this country). Or might we rather infer how Quiroga will defend Bolivian interests for his business? I say this because he and his family are the principal shareholders in the Banco Mercantil, whose investment subsidiary, the Bolivian Investment Corporation (Bisca), owns 22 percent of Aguas de Illimani, the private water company that has kept water and sewage services out of reach of the people of El Alto.

So, now that we have seen that Quiroga wrote four letters as part of his campaign, that last week’s xenophobic “citizen” anti-Chávez demonstration was full of Podemos’ people, that when Quiroga talks of defending Bolivia, he could be talking about more deaths and support for transnationals and their ability to ransack the country more comfortably… At Narco News, we wonder if don Tuto Quiroga might not be using deceptive rhetoric, typical of traditional politics during election season…

Ah, signs of the times, of the electoral circus… an ex-president trying to win votes by putting down another democratically elected president… And curiously, the Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé administration is using the same term (“meddling”) as Quiroga to refer to the incident with the Venezuelan diplomat… what ugly gossip, no? “They are the new idiot right,” Bolivian musician Alvaro Montenegro once told me, speaking of Jorge Quiroga’s followers. “They don’t even have the depth of character to think for themselves…”



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