The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Crisis in Latin America


Reuters just reported: "Honduras ... told a U.S. envoy not to present
his credentials as ambassador on Friday in a diplomatic snub in support
of Bolivia. Bolivia and ... Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez are in a
fight with Washington over what they see as U.S. support for violent
protests against Bolivian President Evo Morales. ...

"The United States imposed sanctions on aides to Venezuela's Chavez on
Friday in retaliation for his expulsion of the U.S. ambassador,
escalating a crisis that raises the specter of a possible oil supply
cutoff. ...

"Violent anti-government protests have killed eight people in Bolivia,
where rightist governors have rebelled against the popular president,
demanding autonomy and rejecting his plans to overhaul the constitution
and break up ranches to give land to poor Indians."

Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
The group issued a statement today which "called on the U.S. State
Department to release information detailing whom it is funding in
Bolivia -- where violent rightwing opposition groups have wreaked havoc
this week in a series of shootings, beatings, ransacking of offices,
and sabotage of a natural gas pipeline -- as well as in other Latin
American countries including Venezuela. Recent events suggest there may
be evidence for Bolivian President Evo Morales' assertions that the
U.S. Embassy is supporting groups promoting violence and seeking
'autonomy' from Bolivia, and the Center called on USAID and other U.S.
agencies to 'come clean' in order to demonstrate the U.S. governments
good faith."

Weisbrot is the author of numerous papers and articles on Bolivia and
Latin America including a new report, "The Distribution of Bolivia's
Most Important Natural Resources and the Autonomy Conflicts," and the
op-ed "Bolivia: Can the Majority of People Vote for Change and Actually
Get It?" He recently traveled to Bolivia, where he met with both
high-level government officials and opposition politicians in the
Eastern lowlands.

James is director of international programs at the Center for Economic and Policy Research
and has been worked extensively on Bolivia. She said today: "This
crisis is a good example of why we need a new foreign policy towards
Latin America -- so that our relations with countries like Bolivia can
be based on respect, sovereignty, mutual collaboration towards
development ... instead of having the vast majority of the population
confident that the U.S. is behind the violence and is funding the
autonomy movement."

Birns is director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, which will be issuing material on the crisis later today.

A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.