News Release

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.”

MARK WEISBROT
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. government’s 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.

DEBORAH JAMES
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.”

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

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167