The charges that opposition politicians heap on the authorities lack reliability and transparency, as their principal –and unsuccessful– goal is to undermine the credibility of the government, in a desperate effort to recover lost ground.
Cambio Newspaper, June 11, 2012
By Juan Carlos Zambrana Marchetti (*)
Some of the media in Bolivia took note on June 7, 2012 of the agreement signed in Tiquipaya between Bolivia and Colombia to cooperate in the fight against drug traffic. The newspaper La Razon, for example, covered the agreement including the comments of the signing foreign ministers, a fragment of which was cited out of context by the opposition media. “The foreign minister of Colombia, Maria Angeles Holguin, affirmed yesterday that drug cartels from her country operate in Bolivia… ‘I don’t know who is here… This is a problem for all of us, and a single country cannot deal with these criminal networks, and that is why we want to contribute what we know.’”
The story in La Razon amplifies the information with the versions of both Bolivian and Colombian officials, attempting to make clear in the best way the character of the Colombian presence in Bolivian territory, which would oscillate from simple emissaries and collectors to possible operators who might have already used Colombian methods.
The Newspaper El Deber, for its part, totally ignored the importance of the agreement in order to give it a different color in its news report. “The Governor of Santa Cruz, Rubén Costas, ratified today his denunciation of Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera, in which he accused the latter of involvement in narcotrafficking.” To presume that there are Colombian drug traffickers “operating” (doing drug-related business) in Bolivia, without knowing where or who they are, does not mean that there are established cartels that control territories, as the opponents of Morales suggest.
It would be more honest to admit that Ms. Holguin made the statement in order to highlight the relevance of the bilateral cooperation agreement. It would also be fair to recognize the political factor involved in the situation, given that she does not represent the diplomacy of Paradise on Earth, but that of Colombia, the country that former president Alvaro Uribe turned into the largest base of U.S. military operations in the region. Neither is the United States a paradise, given its poorly-disguised eagerness to intervene in Bolivia to recover control over a strategic territory whose people inflicted on the former an embarrassing defeat in the political arena. As far as Colombia’s motive to help Bolivia, it might be honest, considering the difference between current president Juan Manuel Santos and Uribe, but, in any case, it is not possible to deny Washington’s pressure on Colombia.
It’s no secret that the “war on drugs” is simply one of the many Trojan horses with which United States intervenes militarily in countries in which it has political, economic, or simply strategic interests. In Colombia, the “secret” political enemy of Washington was the leftist guerrilla, and without a doubt that was its target. That is why, in its political aspect, Plan Colombia is considered a success among the Republican higher circles, even if it has not been that in the human, social and ecological aspects, nor effective in eliminating the drug trade.
It must be kept in mind that the Republican leadership has been promoting this interventionist agenda since the midterm elections that it won in October 2010. One of its events was the so-called “Danger in the Andes: Threats to Democracy, Human Rights, and Inter-American Security.” Among the “threats” to U.S. security was, supposedly, the drug trade.
The nexus between the Republicans and the Bolivian opposition were Douglas Farah in the United States and Roger Pinto in Bolivia, who used each other mutually as sources of information for their defamatory campaigns in both countries, discrediting Bolivia in its fight against drugs. I’m not suggesting that Bolivia is exempt from narcotrafficking, against which, let it be said, the government has been doing a good job in eradication and interdiction, without the destabilizing presence of the DEA.
No doubt that in Bolivia there are Colombians involved in drug-related activities, but from there to saying that the Vice President of Bolivia is involved in those activities there is an abysmal difference. To say that, is a simply an act of falseness and malicious political mistreatment. What Governor Costas refuses to admit is the judicial corruption within his own department, given that, in Santa Cruz, those detained for drug trafficking are freed within days of being captured.
The purpose of this writing is not to deny that there is a problem, but rather to expose how it has been politicized at the hands of the international extreme Right in order to use it against the Bolivian people.
Roger Pinto has been a frenzied opponent of Morales’ government, and Douglas Farah has made a career in the United States, finally reaching the Pentagon, based on his “research” against Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador, published by the Interamerican Institute for Democracy, an organization supposedly dedicated to promoting democracy, but that in reality promotes the international Right.
This is an organization that serves as a barricade for the grand continental strategies of the extreme Right. It’s known that its Executive Director was, at least until last year, Carlos Sanchez Berzain, former Minister of Defense in Bolivia during the government of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, both of them wanted by Bolivian justice for ordering troops to open fire against the people, who were protesting against the looting of their natural gas. In the IID’s Council there stand out, among others, Carlos Montaner and Armando Valladares, well-known counterrevolutionary Cubans.
It is true that the presidency of Juan Manuel Santos in Colombia has shown itself to be more conciliatory with the governments of the Left, but it has not been able to do much to revert the commitments that Uribe signed with Washington. There is therefore a double reality: while on one side Santos and Morales draw closer and create minimum conditions of trust to permit cooperation, former president Uribe has dedicated himself openly to campaigning against the governments of the Left in the region, demonstrating that his motive was always political.
It cannot be denied that there exists an international campaign against Bolivia, and it is while navigating in those hazardous waters that Morales’ government attempts to approach Colombia without falling into the claws of Washington, which has great influence over that country.
Until now, Bolivia has done it successfully, and all efforts to stigmatize the country with one or another of the pretexts in the Republican plan in order to justify intervention have failed. The charge of terrorism has gone nowhere, because there are no terrorists operating in Bolivia. Charges of violations of human rights have not worked, even though they tried to invent a list of deaths with which to accuse Evo. Neither did charges of violations of press freedoms succeed, because the commercial media do as what they wish in Bolivia. The last option left, therefore, is the desperate intent to use drugs as an excuse. It is a clumsy attempt, however, considering that Bolivia’s policy is transparent, and that the political element in Costas’ accusations is undeniable.
(*) Juan Carlos Zambrana Marchetti is the correspondent of Cambio newspaper in the United States.