Wednesday, July 06, 2005

NGO Shenanigans - Whats Behind "Bolivia Blog" and Jim Schultz, Part II

I wanted to take a closer look at what the Center For Democracy a/k/a Jim Schultz is supposed to stand for, and what is has done in Bolivia.


Since its founding in 1992 The Democracy Center has trained and counseled thousands of citizen advocates on five continents. We have worked with.......social justice advocates in Bolivia


Sounds fair enough, but look closer and you see its key tenets are not promoting democracy per se, but taking an anti free-market and anti-capitalist (and implicitly an anti-US) position:

A special emphasis of our work is economic globalization and the movement for global democracy and justice.


This 'work' including training local activists, is described this way.


The Center's training programs include a broad mix of topics, from developing advocacy strategy to media advocacy, to coalition building and lobbying.


All this proselitizing is now based out of Bolivia:

And since 1998 "The Democracy Center shifted its base to Cochabamba, Bolivia, from which it carries out a set of worldwide activities to educate and empower citizens to take an active role in public issues"


They admit to training activists in Bolivia, so what kind of education have they provided????
In addition, a small group of activists has worked diligently for more than a year to educate community leaders, journalists and the public at large about the perils Bolivia faces under the FTAA, and to organize that opposition into a real campaign. The first national organizing workshop, last April, drew more than 200 people – students, campesino farmers, labour leaders, environmentalists, women’s leaders and others. Those people fanned out across the country to spread the word and mobilize support.


Results from these campaigns:
This is nothing more than spreading anti-trade and anti-market rhetoric to political groups.


Campaigners have already accomplished a good deal more than they expected. The first step, public education, has stained the FTAA with deep public scepticism that is expressed regularly here – in public forums, radio talk shows, private conversations. The second step, to force the Government into formal discussions, is now under way. Their objective is to make participation in the FTAA subject to a referendum.


Look how he put the campaign against FTAA itself. "Stained the FTAA with deep public scepticism." A non-economist propagandizing actively against free trade iniatives in a foreign country.

But, the agenda goes deeper than merely fighting against free trade treaties. Its ultimate expression was found in the revolts that toppled the elected government of Gonzalo Sanchez De Lozada. These revolts started as protests against the proposal to pipe natural gas through Chile, for eventual sale to the U.S., something that Schultz hated as much as FTAA - and for which he provided his 'assistance' to the Bolivian left.
During the last couple of days of Goni's rule, Schultz actually becomes part of the story as he joins the tail end of a hunger strike, as he describes in this article. In that article and in this this interview Shultz gave he can barely restrain his glee when Goni leaves:
COCHABAMBA, BOLIVIA — This morning, Bolivia is in the news all over the world. The people have booted out their President and a new one has come to power. Events like this do not happen very often in the world, and this is the first time I have witnessed a head of state being fired since the U.S. did it to Richard Nixon. I was a high school student in Nixon's California hometown and it made me very happy



Jim Schultz: I think the repercussions will be huge. A president of a country was kicked out as a result of a political fight over globalization. People are just beginning to tune into something that's been going on for awhile, which is, this pocket of South America is communicating a very powerful message to the world, not just about it wants, but about what it's willing to go through to get it, and its ability to win it.




EXTERNAL PROPAGANDIZING

While Schultz has contributed cheap slogans and outdated ideology to poor Bolivians, he has also managed to sell himself as an 'expert' on Bolivia, to some surprisingly respectable news outlets. He moderates the language and goes on full spin attack.

Start with the Newspaper of Record for example. In a New York Times Article titled Latin America Fails to Deliver On Basic Needs by Juan Forero, the author describes Schultz as the director of a "policy group in Cochabamba, Bolivia's third-largest city, that studies the effects of free market reforms." Schultz informs us in his blog that he had"several conversations with the author of the article as he prepared it and am quoted near the end." He gets more print in the following June 8, 2005 edition of the NYT, right when Mesa was about to quit at the height of the last crisis:

The bottom line is that Latin America is in open rebellion of the economic policies of the Washington Consensus," said Jim Shultz, director of the Democracy Center, a group in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba that is critical of free market reforms in the country. "Sometimes it happens in the ballot box. Sometimes it happens on the street, like in Bolivia. It is in essence the same rebellion."


The spin he puts on this is amazing. It is the U.S.' fault that Bolivians are up in arms against a consortium of Spanish, French, British and Brazilian companies, drilling for gas thousands of miles away. Many people reading this would believe that this guy is some sort of even-handed and non-biased expert on Bolivia, when in fact he is actively proselytyzing among Bolivia's left, pushing an outdated anti-market agenda. He is intellectualy dishonest by selling himself this way, Forero and the Times are also being lax in not exposing him for what he really is.

9 comments:

tollas said...

Here here. The irony is that Jim Schultz, like other hippies in Bolivia, most likely lives in a nice house. NGO workers in Bolivia get to live cushy lives as they get their salaries guarenteed by foreign assistance. I visited the home of a gringo working for CEDLA (www.cedla.org), a group that does some of the same propaganda work, and was amazed at the luxury of his Zona Sur house.

Logan Foster said...

excellent blog....very informative

Anonymous said...

wow, pretty amazing. This blog is extremely interesting, it really shows the opposite side. I have been reading fairly well educated blogs, with very well documented facts and yet, I can still see here, how all of that is worthless to the obtuse minds that have gathered here. Let me see, a sports fanatic discussing politics without having the facts of any of it. WOW. Where are you guys getting your news from? FOX News? are you guys in Orange County California? you sound like a bunch of ignorant republicans!

tollas: why were you visiting the home of a gringo who does "some" propaganda work? were you invited? were you just spying? Le tme get this straight, you want those gringos to live poorly? like the peasants in order for their work to be more real to you?

What kind fo house do you live in? or should the gringos that go there to help should live in a smaller house than yours? You are sad.

Boli-Nica said...

,
wow, pretty amazing. This blog is extremely interesting, it really shows the opposite side. I have been reading fairly well educated blogs, with very well documented facts and yet, I can still see here, how all of that is worthless to the obtuse minds that have gathered here. Let me see, a sports fanatic discussing politics without having the facts of any of it. WOW. Where are you guys getting your news from? FOX News? are you guys in Orange County California? you sound like a bunch of ignorant republicans!


Wow, you should really lay off the internet, you really suck at it!!!

How can you say there is no documentation on my original post, when all I have done is cite the guys work?????

Read ALL my posts Nancy-Boy, I back my stuff up. Plus, I actually know a thing or two about Bolivia and Nicaragua, namely THEIR HISTORIES, which a lot of people ignore.

Geez, you are to easy to mock.

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