Monday, November 19, 2007

Bolivia: MAS, Evo's Minions Feud, Attack NGO's, hilarity ensues

Watch Out For The Friendly Fire While Evo is aping (no pun intended) Chavez by firing up anti-US hysteria his underlings and associates are taking it a bit further, and even going after their own. The target Non Governmental Organizations (NGO's). While Evo has made threatening noises against NGO's funded by the US Agency For International Development and some Western governments, others in and around MAS are going after NGO's closely linked to the MAS government.

Bolivia's current Water Minister, Abel Mamami, in words of one leading academic a voice of "constant complaint..[but] irregular proposal", accused Bolivia's ambassador to Spain and 2 MAS senators of corruption and conflict of interest. This is based on their being on the board of a Spanish NGO, which has a consulting contract with the superintendency of water - a regulatory agency separate from the ministry. This sounds like a turf war, or even a sloppy attempt at finding Spanish misdeeds to follow up on King vs. Chavez. Or both.

El ministro de Aguas de Bolivia, Abel Mamani, denunció a la embajadora boliviana en España, María del Carmen Almendras, y a dos senadores del oficialista Movimiento Al Socialismo (MAS), en la firma irregular de un contrato entre el Estado y una organización no gubernamental.

Mamani denunció que el hecho, registrado en agosto de este año, tiene que ver en la prestación de servicios de consultoría de la organización no gubernamental "Agua Sustentable" a la estatal Superintendencia de Aguas, informaron este lunes medios locales.

El ministro explicó que la diplomática y los senadores del MAS, María Esther Udaeta y Omar Fernández, son miembros del directorio de la ONG Agua Sustentable.

Manami acotó que se cometieron los delitos de "uso indebido de influencias, negociaciones incompatibles con el ejercicio de las funciones públicas, contratos lesivos al Estado y conducta antieconómica".

"Yo soy ministro de Estado, soy funcionario público, y como dijo el presidente de la República (Evo Morales), tengo toda la obligación respecto a irregularidades, sin importar quién sea", dijo Mamani,

then there is this fun example:

Former energy minister Soliz Rada is the architect of Evo's "nationalization", so he does have some weight. in this interview he sounds more like a classics professor complaining about deconstructionists in the faculty, when discussing intramural conflicts in the ruling coalition over the new constitution. Soliz Rada claims that indigenista fundamentalist positions of some MAS allied social movements are pretty much an "invention" of US and European NGO's that work with them. Ultimately these NGO's are instruments of the "sources of world power" - meaning the US/Europe/Capitalists. Demands for tribal "autonomy" and for pressing separate identities, are nothing more than a foreign-directed conspiracy to "atomize" and split Bolivia, so foreign powers can seize these resources by dealing with "sub-groups" rather than with a state.

Previamente se necesita derrotar a las corrientes fundamentalistas del indigenismo, detrás de las cuales se encuentran ONG norteamericanas y europeas que simulan olvidar que el Viejo Continente no ha adoptado el camino del plurinacionalismo sino del supranacionalismo. Las ONG, con excepciones, forman parte de la estrategia de los centros de poder mundial por apropiarse de los recursos naturales de nuestros países, mediante la parcelación de nuestros estados nacionales.

The former minister says that in the constitutional assembly these demands create conflict and stall the process. They also carry a heavy political price since they alienate the nationalist Mestizo-indigenous middle class. While the international press talks about the "indigenous President", Soliz Rada pointedly describes Morales as an "Indo-Mestizo", culturally (and racially) pretty indistinguishable from many urban middle class voters that were crucial in his election.

Since this is Bolivia, there is of course a very real political argument going on here. Some of the social movements claim they were shut out of the Constituent Assembly by MAS. Soliz Rada, on the other hand, uses the term of art "Stalinist" to describe these "sectors" , recalling the bickering between Troskos and Pro-Moscow Communists.

This reveals a cultural cleavage between the Bolivian hard-left which is at the core of the MAS coalition. On the one hand, the old-school Bolivian left-nationalist in the tradition of Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz, claiming the mantle of the 1952 revolution. On the other are some social and indigenous movements, which are identified with indigenous and community groups of more recent movilization and who Soliz Rada says tend to be more "single issue" oriented.

Typical of Bolivia's mess nothing fits neatly in one category, there are similarities, grey areas and contradictions. Both "sides" back nationalization and Evo's position against regional claims. Morales' core support is the cocaleros, strongly influenced by mining nationalist traditions, but who also adopted indigenist talk, and who have been supported by some NGO's. Radical middle class elements are present in the social movements and arguably guide their "discourse." Mamami himself is all over the place, coming from the capitals version of the "water wars", having a native surname, and denouncing his erstwhile allies in traditional language straight out of "Bolivian Political Bickering 101".

Foreign-funded NGO's in Bolivia, cross the spectrum in terms of patrons, mission and methods. Some assist in very narrow technical areas, while others are more like think tanks. Then you have some who seem to be nothing more than anti-globalization platforms for Western activists. It is these groups that work with indigenous and social movements, who speak in terms of post-modern, post-colonial, identity politics and link them to a larger anti-capitalist struggle. For that matter, so do many of leftist Bolivians like Vice-President Garcia Linera who are in power.

That kind of stuff makes for some real intense sectarian fun, specially when combined with traditional Bolivian paranoia, suspicion of outsiders, and plain nasty politics and bickering. Once the nationalist genie gets uncorked it can get out of control.