Sunday, 30 September 2007

The Constituent Assembly: Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador

In recent years a popular-based apparatus of governance, named the Constituent Assembly, has taken shape in Venezuela, in Bolivia and soon in Ecuador. In Bolivia it has faced the most opposition by the countries USAID-NED-CIDA-EU-united elite civil society and parties. Here is a brief overview of how the Constituent Assemblies are playing out:

-In Ecuador voters will elect a 130-member body from 3,200 candidates this Sunday. Ecuador's President Rafael Correa is depending on the constitutional assembly to push for the reforms that are needed to shift Ecuador's government away from the model of corrupt-elite democracy to a more popular based model that could back partial nationalizations as well as numerous programs aimed at the countries poor majority. In April 2007 eighty two percent of the population voted in favor of forming the assembly. Ecuador's President has said that they are in favor of "non-renewable resources to be owned by the state or by public enterprises" and has advocated the seizure of the Occidental oil fields in Ecuador because of their breaking their contract with Ecuador on fifty-two different occasions. Referring to Occidental, Correa said "
they believe we are still a colony
". He argues, like Morales and Chavez, that for far to long too much of the profits from his nations oil fields have gone to foreign corporations when the majority of his country lives in such deep poverty.

-In Venezuela the constituent assembly has pushed through some of the most democratic and poor-based reforms in the western hemisphere to date, a process made easier due in large part to the opposition boycotting of recent elections. This has some similarity with what occurred in Haiti 2000-2004 when foreign aid agencies actually suggested to elite political parties/civil societies that since they could not win (as 70 percent of the people were behind Aristide/Lavalas), then they should instead boycott in order to discredit the entire process. In Haiti the strategy worked for the elites because of the governments huge dependence on foreign aid (and legitimacy provided by foreign 'experts' who can hold up the aid). The Aristide government lost somewhere between 40 and 60 percent of its national budget immediately upon entering office- this was all money the Haitian government had long depended on (i.e. road construction, healthcare, aids programs). But in Venezuela the USAID-elite plan has really backfired. The Chavista program remains uber popular and flush with petro-dollars, not to say there is no room for criticism. The PopDem manifests itself in the votes and popular organizing/pressure from the social movements and poor, so in that respect we should move on to Bolivia, probably the most grassroots and democratic example of them all:

-In Bolivia the MAS movement and President Morales' government have partially succeeded with the Constituent Assembly model, although according to the Democracy Center "the Assembly has been suspended since early September, when violent protests over a proposal to move the seat of the executive and legislative branches from La Paz to Sucre ground its sessions to a halt." This last Thursday members of the assembly agreed to get back into session but it is unlikely that the problems will cease. According to numerous press reports, the Bolivian government is complaining about USAID programs that have been working heavily to derail the constituent assembly and other Bolivian government measures; all the while keeping reportedly 70% of their budget undisclosed. Here is a result graph of the constituent assembly vote from Bolivia:

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Evo on US-Democracy: "If It’s Rigged, then Something Needs to Be Done to Change That”

Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, is a welcome guest on the Daily Show. A must see. Evo, you have been so great for your country, but why are you blocking any debate on MINUSTAH (according to ex- minister Andrés Soliz Rada)?

Sunday, 16 September 2007

NED Publishes 2007 Grants and Experts Go Wild for US-Corpo-Democracy

The NED has published
its new 'best of' 2007 list of groups or programs
that it is financing across the western hemisphere.

The most fascinating thing with the NED is how they are able to employee the language of popular and participatory democracy - when the model they are based on, US Democracy, is just the opposite.
In regards to Venezuela, American-Venezuelan attorney Eva Golinger writes
, "many groups now being funded appear to be trying to "break" into the Chávez camp to counteract or sabotage social programs or advances, such as the community councils (NED proposes "citizen councils"), and to impose the US-NED view of "democracy"."

So here we are: the 2002 coup did not work, USAID-NED-STATE have not been able to successfully undermine Chavez in the polls, obviously they have been unable to murder him, and he remains hugely popular- all this while the Venezuelan media (in the hands of a few wealthy buisnessmen) remains %90 against the elected government.

So, the NED realizes they need to deepen their strategy, infiltrate "left talking, right walking" groups into the chavista cohort.

In countries such as Bolivia and Haiti the NED has become an expert at such strategies, sponsoring "grassroots organizations" and backing "particpatory local initiatives". In Haiti alone the NED are backing a number of both new and old faces, such as the Centre de Formation Citoyenne et d'Appui au Développement (Center for Citizen Training and Development Support) (CEFCAD), Comite d'Initiatives de la 3eme section du Limbé (Initiative Committee of the Third Section of Limbé), Coordination Nationale des Organisations de Base (National Coordination for Grassroots Organizations) (CONOB), Fondation Espoir (Hope Foundation),Grand Front National des Etudiants Haïtiens (National Grand Front of Haitian Students) GRAFNEH), and the Rassemblement National des Citoyens Organisés pour le Développement d'Haïti (National Assembly of Citizens Organized for the Development of Haiti) (RANCODHA).

US-Democracy advocate Dr Thomas Carothers should be able to aptly explain all of this during his coaching moderating of an
upcoming talk with IRI Prez Lorne W. Craner and NDI Prez Kenneth Wollack.

Oh..and how can we forget the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) published a wacky and misleading expert report on Haiti. Narco News could just not help themselves with this one. The Sun Sentinel did much better.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

AUMOHD Human Rights Reports

AUMOHD has posted a new report looking at ex-military led violence in the Central Plateau: Mirebalais-Lascaobas-Belladère.

As readers may know, AUMOHD has also (along with the Grand Ravine Community Human Rights Council - CHRC-GR) been highly active in one of the most impoverished areas in Port-au-Prince, Gran Ravine and Martissant. Their reports have constantly pointed to the driving force of violence being a group known as Lame Ti Manchet. Even some other groups less active in the area have begun acknowledging Lame Ti Manchets involvement. Not to worry though, Michael Deibert still believes his blame-it-all-on-Aristide carefully crafted article is the true and "definitive" source on violence in these communities. He actually wrote recently that to the best of his knowledge his article is "the only authoritative English-language reporting on the conflict there." He must have never taken the time to read the translated
of actual Haitian human rights workers that are in the communities daily. Earlier this year an organizer of HURAH gave him an ear full.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

USA Talks

Listen to WBAI's Haiti: The Struggle Continues for updates on Lovinsky and ongoing discussion on Haiti. I was just on WBAI and will be speaking again tomorrow (September 2nd) at 6:30 (east coast time) on 94.7 SCA Radyo Pa Nou; listen live to Popular Dialogue. And on Tuesday, September 4th listen to KPFK's Sonali Kolhatkar's show, in the studio. Most of the discussion will be centered around privatization and human rights in Haiti.