New Threat of SOA Intervention in Bolivia Print
For the past five years, the Bolivian indigenous and campesino communities have been resisting corporate globalization in the Americas and have bravely stood up to the sell-out of their natural resources to multinational corporations. Today, 80,000 people are protesting in La Paz in favor of the nationalization of gas and oil. All major cities have been shut down. The Bolivian President Carlos Mesa announced on Monday that he will step down, and he warned yesterday that the country may slide into civil war unless immediate elections are held.

There are rumors that the conservative powers around the Bolivian Senate leader Hormando Vaca Diez could call out the military to put a violent end to the protests and blockades. Diez could rely on hundreds of SOA graduates within the Bolivian armed forces to take action against their own people.

Soldiers attending the SOA, now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation or WHINSEC, are trained to protect the interests of U.S. corporations and maintain the economic status quo for the few rich and powerful in the U.S. and their cohorts in Latin America.

The SOA/ WHINSEC?s official website states, ?Our course offerings are designed to support the strategic objectives of the Commanders, U.S Northern Command and U.S. Southern Command in implementing the National Security Strategy in the Western Hemisphere.?

Part of the Bush Administration?s National Security Strategy includes the aim of achieving ?free trade agreements with a mix of developed and developing countries in all regions of the world. Initially, Central America, Southern Africa, Morocco, and Australia will be our principal focal points?.?

In recent years "privatization" has become an economic theology in Latin America, driven by a set of commandments written by the U.S., and the U.S.-dominated lenders, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. After being delayed for days by massive protests, the Central American Free Trade Agreement was passed in Guatemala in March while legions of riot police surrounded the Congress and tear gas filled downtown Guatemala City.

How did the military training provided at the SOA support these developments? In one example, Bolivia's most recent governments have been very obedient to these foreign commandments, selling off everything from the national airline to the electricity system.

In January of 2000, just months after it took over control of the water system of Bolivia's third largest city, Cochabamba, the California-based Bechtel corporation hit water users with enormous price increases. These increases forced some of the poorest families in South America to literally choose between food and water.

Thousands took the streets, and in response the Bolivian President and former military dictator, SOA graduate Hugo Banzer, sent out the armed forces to attack civilians. A plainclothes officer, behind a line of uniformed soldiers, fired into the crowd. Victor Hugo, 17, was killed with a bullet through his face. The sniper, Captain Robinson Iriarte de La Fuente, attended a combat weapons training course at the SOA.

Iriarte and Banzer aren?t the only SOA graduates. According to the Andean Information Center, Cochabamba?s new military governor, Gen. Walter Cespedes Ramallo, is also an SOA grad. He was the Commander of the Joint Task Forces (a combination of military and police forces) in the Chapare coca-growing region in 1998. During road blockades and resistance, 15 farmers were killed, others were brutally tortured and many were wounded.

It is no surprise that as state-sponsored violence is used to support economic injustice against the people in Latin America, graduates of the 'School of Assassins' are consistently at the forefront of the conflict.

MORE INFORMATION:

Bolivia military denies it is plotting coup
http://www.soaw.org/index.php?option=com_content&id=1118

The Democracy Center?s Jim Shultz is on the ground in Bolivia:
http://www.democracyctr.org/blog/index.htm

Bolivia leader warns of civil war (BBC News)
http://www.soaw.org/index.php?option=com_content&id=1121

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EMERGENCY DELEGATION organized by Global Exchange to Bolivia

Bolivia: The Battle for Resources- Popular Social Movements and Sovereignty
June 18-29, 2005 -- Cost: $1400 (arriving to Santa Cruz, departing from La Paz)

Due to the major events the past few weeks in Bolivia, Global Exchange is making an emergency call to join a delegation to Bolivia to examine the current situation in the country. Among popular calls for 100% nationalization of hydrocarbons, it is logical to fear Bolivian government repression and economic isolation from the United States in the days or weeks to come. US citizens have a special responsibility to accurately portray the events happening in Bolivia as communicated to them by Bolivian indigenous and campesino communities who are involved in the conflict. Discounts are possible for groups and individuals.

Some of the program highlights include meeting with social movement leaders, academics, business leaders and more; traveling to the Amazonian regions of Chapare and Yungas to meet with local cocalero federations; visiting the Altiplano to learn about the indigenous Aymara cultural resistance; celebrating the Andean New Year ? and much more!

Please consider joining us to be able to accurately represent the current situation in Bolivia within the US. For more information, please see http://www.globalexchange.org/tours/616.html, or contact Zach Hurwitz at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or 415-255-7296 ext. 226.