Recently there have been heard some voices calling for the government of Evo Morales in Bolivia and the one of Barack Obama in the United States to draw closer. ¿Could that be possible?
Considering that the White House had its romantic interludes with Bolivia, it’s necessary to review them in order to discover what the interests are that could motivate Washington to pursue such a rapprochement.
On May 5, 1943, Franklin D. Roosevelt received Enrique Penaranda with all of the honors reserved for a valued ally. At Washington’s request, Penaranda had declared war against Germany, had accepted to pay indemnification to the nationalized Standard Oil Co., had turned over the tin at subsidized prices, and had machine-gunned the mine workers who protested. Roosevelt’s love for Penaranda, therefore, was well founded on material and geopolitical interests.
On October 22, 1963, president John Kennedy received president Victor Paz Estenssoro. The United States was living the coldest decade of the Cold War and the Soviet Union was criticizing the abuses of capitalism. The Cuban Revolution had triumphed and Che Guevara was the worldwide symbol of anti-imperialism. Given the circumstances, Kennedy decided to wield the secret weapon that his country had been developing in Bolivia since 1950: subjection through economic dependency. Kennedy hailed conquered Bolivia as the model of the capitalist Good Revolution, in contrast to the communist Bad Revolution. He had therefore a great political interest in Bolivia.
On July 20, 1966, president Lyndon Johnson received in the White House the president-elect of Bolivia, Gen. Rene Barrientos Ortuño. After 14 years of a rightward turn in the revolution of 1952 that had dissolved the army, the Armed Forces had been rebuilt and put into power. What could have been Washington’s urgency in installing militarism in Bolivia? Che Guevara was preparing to enter Bolivia (October 3, 1966), and is quite possibly the CIA was already on his tracks.
On July 5, 1968, Johnson again received Barrientos, this time at his Texas ranch. The Bolivian president had executed Che to keep his ideas from spreading, and when the CIA’s participation was placed into evidence, he denied it totally, assuming all responsibility.
The three cases mentioned had to do with Bolivian governments that were complacent with the interventionism of the United States. They would be followed by the military dictatorships also supported by Washington, and then by neoliberalism, until the emergence of Evo Morales, who in order to defend the process of change had to expel ambassador Philip Goldberg, the DEA, and the USAID.
Thus, if it is obvious that Evo Morales is proudly anti-imperialist, and that Obama has declared him an enemy, what could be Washington’s interest in re-establishing the relationship? According to history, that would be to penetrate anew the structures of the Bolivian revolution, re-insert its subversive cadres both civil and military, promote politically the Right again, and create mechanisms of dependence that would renew its influence on the actions of the Bolivian government in order to move it rightwards. In other words, to initiate for a second time a slow process of nation-destruction through non-violent means. If Obama does not recognize the legitimacy and value of the democratic and peaceful Bolivian revolution, reestablishing relations would be for the people of Bolivia a fatal error, one that they cannot afford to commit.
Juan Carlos Zambrana Marchetti