Latin America: “Don’t Mess With Us”

Arriving in Santiago, Chile, where close to 35 years ago to the day Chile's left-wing president Salvador Allende was overthrown in a military coup, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez declared that "in Bolivia a conspiracy is underway, an international conspiracy, financed and directed by US imperialism, just like that which occurred in Chile in 1973''.

Arriving at the Palacio Moneda in Santiago,
Chile, on September 14, where close to 35 years ago to the day Chile's
left-wing president Salvador Allende was overthrown in a military coup,
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez declared that "in Bolivia a conspiracy
is underway, an international conspiracy, financed and directed by US
imperialism, just like that which occurred in Chile in 1973''.

The day before he had warned that if something were to happen to
Bolivian President Evo Morales, he would not remain with his "arms

"Just as I would die for Venezuela, I am willing to die for
Bolivia", he proclaimed. "Resist Evo, win Evo, the people are with

Chavez's comments came as the US-backed right-wing opposition
dramatically escalated their campaign of violence aimed at overthrowing
Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous president.

Regional solidarity and integration

Chavez's words were backed by the action on September 11 when his
government expelled the US ambassador in Caracas, in solidarity with
Bolivia doing the same due to the US ambassador to Bolivia's role in
destablising the country.

The announcement came less than 24 hours after the revelation of a
planned assassination and coup attempt against Chavez involving retired
and active military officials.

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya also suspended the planned
reception of the credentials of the new US ambassador to his country,
scheduled to occur on September 11.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa declared his government's total
support for Morales and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega announced
his government would hold no more meetings with Washington until after
the November US presidential elections.

The outpouring of active solidarity culminated in the historic
emergency summit of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur).
Bringing together the heads of state the countries that comprise Unasur
(Peru being the only country not present, but with Peruvian President
Alan Garcia having publicly supported the Bolivian government against
the coup), a resolution unanimously passed by the meeting noted "the
tragic episodes 35 years ago in this very place that shocked all

"Faced with the grave occurrences reported in the sister Republic
of Bolivia … the countries that make up Unasur express [t]heir fullest
and decided support for the constitutional government of President Evo
Morales, whose mandate was ratified by a wide margin in the recent

The resolution pledged Unasur to "create a support and assistance commission to the government of Bolivia".

This decision not only put an important brake on imperialism's
plans for Bolivia, it demonstrated that a new political bloc existed in
world politics. Working in a coordinated fashion, and explicitly
excluding the US, South American countries of different stripes
approved a common position in defence of one of their own – breathing
life into the new organisation Unasur.

US offensive

Explaining the meeting's significance, newly elected Paraguayan
President Fernando Lugo said: "This continent has changed a lot. Unasur
met to defend life, democracy. In the '70s the dictators of Operation
Condor use to meet to sow death and blood."

Lugo was referring to the military dictatorships imposed by
Washington in South America to drown in blood the rising class
struggles of the 1960s. Through such dictatorships, Washington was able
to pave the way for the neoliberal onslaught of the '80s and '90s.

However, in the new century a wave of anti-neoliberal and
anti-imperialist struggle is changing the face of Latin America.
Protests and uprising have not only gotten rid of neoliberal
presidents, but in some countries, such as Venezuela and Bolivia, have
begun to chart a different future.

Long the backyard of the US, South America is creating is own neighbourhood.

Threatened by the rise of a potentially independent South America, US imperialism has launched an offensive.

Vice-president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV),
Alberto Muller Rojas has explained that the events in South America
cannot be understood without looking at what is happening in the Middle
East and the Caucasian region.

"This is part of an almost desperate effort of the empire, which
for some years now has been in a state of decadence", explained Muller

On September 3, only 18 days after assuming the presidency, Lugo
denounced a planned coup against his government, orchestrated by
ex-president Nicanor Duarte and retired general Lino Oviedo.

A few days later, the centre-left president of Guatemala, Alvaro
Colom, ordered the Presidencial Guard to take over the Presidential
House after discovering a network of hidden cameras and microphones.

Today the focal point of the subversive against the anti-imperialist rebellion is Bolivia.

Role of the military

Overwhelming evidence exists for the active role of US ambassador
to Bolivia Phillip Goldberg in helping organise the right-wing
opposition. Bolivian media has revealed numerous secret meetings
between opposition leaders and Goldberg, which have increased in recent

One aspect of the opposition's plan has been to reach out to the
high command of the Bolivian military. Together with the campaign of
violent attacks against the armed forces, the aim is to undermine
military support for the Morales government.

Since coming to power in January 2006, Morales has done much to win
the military to his side. From increasing their budget and wages to
actively involving them in the government's program of nationalisation
and social programs, the Morales government has consciously tried to
recreate the "military-peasant" pact of the past, this time led by the
indigenous peasants.

However, as Chavez publicly denounced, sections of Bolivia's
military high command carried out a "sit-down strike" during the recent
wave of violence.

Referring to the role of the head of the army, general Luis Trigo,
Chavez said on September 13: "Last night General Trigo went to Pando
[following the government declaration of marshal law] but instead of
responding to the presidential decree … he arrived and ordered the
troops to their barracks, abandoning the airport and citizens'

Chavez recalled the parallels with what took place in Venezuela
during the short-lived coup of April 2002: "General Trigo is like those
who hid themselves when I called on the radio to tell them to put Plan
Avila in motion, which is a defence plan. And they hid.

"And later they kept the generals who wanted to fulfill their obligation from emerging."

Chavez added later that "despite the indecisive attitudes of Trigo
and his people, soldiers and officers took the airport and are bringing
Pando back to democracy".

Undoubtably, the strategy of the opposition is to win a section of the military to carry out a coup against Morales.

But today's South America is not that of the past. The absence of
significant social sectors willing to support an ongoing military
dictatorship currently makes such a path difficult.

Rather, the threat currently hanging over Bolivia, like in
Venezuela where assassinations plots have been uncovered, is of open
civil war – where only on the graves of tens of thousands of determined
fighters could order be restored for the ruling elite.

The horrific massacre in Pando by paramilitaries – where some
estimate that as many as 70 unarmed men, women and children were
butchered – is only an indication of things to come if the right-wing
opposition gets the upper hand.

Here lies the danger of the position promoted by Brazilian
President Lula da Silva, who as part of his aspirations to be the
"peacekeeper" of the region proposed a solution to the Bolivian crisis
that necessarily involved the legitimate government and the
fascist-minded coup-plotting opposition.

In expelling the real leaders of the counter-revolution (US
ambassadors) from Bolivia and Venezuela, Morales and Chavez have made
clear that such a compromise is impossible in a context where
imperialism aims to drown the revolutionary process in each country in

‘Don't mess with us'

Importantly, the revolutionary people and government of Venezuela
have assimilated this lesson. A crucial turning point in the Venezuelan
revolution was the civic-military uprising in April 2002 that overthrew
the pro-imperialist coup junta – with the pro-imperialist officers
purged and control of the military won by the revolutionary government.

As part of deepening the anti-imperialist struggle, the PSUV has
called for a Latin America-wide meeting of revolutionary parties for
October 12.

In the wake of the revelations of a new coup plot, PSUV activist
Gonzalo Gomez wrote in Aporrea.org about the September 12 popular
mobilisation outside the Fuerte Tiuna military barracks: "Civilians and
soldiers mixed together as one single mass, in defence of democracy and
in rejection of the coup plans promoted by the Venezuelan ultra-right
and US imperialism."

"The mobilisation recalled images similar to those of April 13
[2002] at the gates of the most important military barrack in Caracas.
Thousands of revolutionary activists, communal council and social
movement activists, joined with hundreds of soldiers.

"The images spoke for themselves: the soldiers together with the
people, ready to defend the constitutional government of their
Commander Hugo Chavez Frias, ready to defend the Bolivarian,
democratic, anti-imperialist revolution on the road towards a socialist

"The coup plotters and the empire should think twice before acting. Don't mess with us, the counter-coup will be crushing."

[Federico Fuentes works for
Green Left Weekly's Caracas bureau. GLW
is the only newspaper in Australia with a journalist based in Latin
America. Subscribe now for ongoing coverage of the Latin American
revolution, visit http://greenleft.org.au/php or call 1800 634 206.

From: International News, Green Left Weekly issue #768 24 September 2008.

Source: Green Left Weekly