Venezuela & Bolivia: What's going on?

In recent days there's been turmoil in South America, starting in Bolivia and spreading to Venezuela. It has made the UK newspapers in the last couple of days but don't ask the Guardian what's going on. Considering the importance of the social movements and leftwards trend on that continent, their coverage veers between trivial and the woeful. This article tries to get a handle on events there.

In Bolivia, there have been disturbances over a referendum on greater autonomy for the regions. The leaders of the richer regions, with most of the mineral resources want greater autonomy. They overwhelmingly represent the old ruling class as against Evo Morales, the continent's first indigenous president.

The anti-government protests are orchestrated by right-wing forces, privileged students, etc. They include a disturbing element of racism directed at indigenous groups (see the attached photo from Barcelona IMC) and have engaged in various acts of sabotage such as against the gas pipeline exporting to Brazil.

Midweek, the Morales government expelled the US Ambassador, Philip Goldberg because of his activities in one of the rebel provinces, Santa Cruz. It's worth noting that Goldberg was previously the Head of Mission" in Kosovo at the time of its separation from FYR and that Santa Cruz has received a large amount of funding from USAID, a politically suspect aid agency. More detailed reports can be found at Bolivia Information Forum.

Soon after, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, amidst claims of a plot to assassinate him, expelled the US's ambassador to that country. In a memorable breakdown of diplomatic language he declared, "that's enough shit from you, shitty Americans" ("¡Ya basta de tanta mierda de ustedes, yanquis de mierda!").

It might be reasonable to think it points to the US attempting to break off the richer provinces of Bolivia while weakening the leftist current and social movements across South America. It would be equally reasonable to suppose that the US would welcome another coup in Venezuela. You won't find such an analysis in the nominally-liberal media here. In the Guardian, the news coverage of Chavez's move derides the claims of a coup: "Venezuela's president has made previous claims about other alleged conspiracies, which were never substantiated."

Except of course, there was a previous coup against Chavez in 2002, it was supported (if not instigated) by the USA, and immediately welcomed by Labour MPs in the UK but defeated by a popular uprising. Instead of mentioning this, Rory Carroll attributes the expulsion to upcoming elections (in Venezuela, not the USA), a suitcase of money in Buenos Aires and later, to US accusations of links to the cocaine trade (the US "War on Drugs" of course has been used to maintain a military presence in Columbia).

The coverage of the pretty-momentous struggle in Bolivia seems limited to the "Lucha Libre" of the country's female wrestlers. There's also this: "Meanwhile, Bolivia continued to reel from clashes between groups for and against Morales' government which left eight people dead and 20 injured," which says precisely nothing about the nature of the clash there.

Confusing, no? It's becoming clear that the Guardian is a deeply unreliable source for news on South America. There are few good English-language sources on the area. In researching this article I found that the Financial Times was giving a clearer, more factual account of events. At least the bias there is clear. Progressive sources I have found are listed below, if there are more, please share them. This seems like one of the few times where the more you read the news, the less informed you are.


More sources


I stole this from

Includes disturbing hints of possible military coup-plotting in Bolivia, and, worse, a massacre in Porvenir.

Bolivia Information Forum Bulletin


Attached to this post is the bulletin sent out by Bolivia Information Forum earlier today. It provides a useful summary of recent events, predicting a lull for the duration of some talks (and a commercial event, which shows where the separatists are coming from...).

More Venezuela sources

By Anonymous



cia loves to  fudge laptops--
even though they always screw it ip--
laptop fudging is cia sport



  how the real democracy
 runs an honest election-
this is what a poor little country   
  can do-
 what usa cannot dare try-

??also venez??!!

save this before it is removed--

when usa govt and its media come out with their next
bs about the laptop of some evildoer--
are you really willing to  again believe usa govt and
its media bs?

  bush assassinates all
his opponents in usa and worldwide,features,aldo-moro-and-the-red-scare

 bush assassinates SOFA opponents
bush murders haider etc