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Evo Morales addresses UN General Assembly

Hugo Moldiz*

EVO Morales hit the nail on the head. The President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, in his remarks to the United Nations General Assembly, asserted that dominating the world scene today are two counter-posed forces: imperialism's offensive to re-colonize the world, on the one hand, and, on the other, the rebellion of peoples and states seeking their full independence, or at least greater autonomy.

The words of Bolivia's, and Latin America's, first indigenous president left no stones unturned. Evo spoke in a measured tone and in the few minutes he stood before other presidents from around the world, he cited concrete historical examples. He insisted on the nefarious role being played on a world scale by imperialism, led by the United States, with the complicity of the United Nations.

Let us review the different points he made.

Evo affirmed that capitalism is in crisis. True or false? A quick check of major world events over the last 10 years makes clear that a cyclical capitalist crisis has not only reoccurred within a shorter timeframe, but has become more multi-dimensional.

Capitalism is not simply facing a typical crisis of over-production. What characterizes the current crisis is the convergence of various factors leading to an explosive situation, to which no solution is readily available. It is hard to avoid the financial, climate, food, energy, productive and moral dimensions of the greatest crisis in the history of capitalism.

Since 1997, this way of organizing social life based on the law of value has seriously affected the major capitalist countries. The United States and Europe cannot ignore what is happening and the G-20 meetings of the last few years - beginning in London, then Seoul and most recently Cannes – represent desperate attempts to find a way out.

What is imperialism's solution to the crisis?

Giving his answer, President Morales cited concrete realities which cannot be discounted: military interventions based on the pretext of defending democracy and fighting terrorism or drug trafficking, to mention only the most important.

Afghanistan and Iraq were invaded beginning in 2001 and 2003, respectively, allegedly to dismantle Al Qaeda led by Osama bin Laden – a former ally of the U.S. in the struggle against communism - in the first case, and in the case of Iraq, because of "weapons of mass destruction." Thousand of soldiers, billions of dollars, and even privatization of the war have been used in this crusade for 'freedom and justice.'

A second wave of interventions in this same part of the world can now be added. The United States has undertaken a new counter-offensive. In March 2011, hiding behind the Arab peoples' struggle for democracy, the U.S. initiated its military occupation of Libya and now has Iran and Syria in its sights, although this time its plans have been stymied by Russian and Chinese opposition, and the resistance of the Iranian people and government.

When light is shed on these events, it is evident that imperialism, with the undisputed leadership of the United States, considers the militarization of the planet an appropriate response to the current crisis of capitalist production and to challenges to its political and ideological hegemony. The re-colonization of the world, through a return to methods used in the original accumulation of capital (non-economic ones like invasions and plundering of natural resources) is the answer to the broad crisis of their economic methods. This process has been called accumulation by dispossession by geographer David Harvey.

How does imperialism, led by the United States, justify its actions politically? By what authority are these military occupations undertaken?

Evo Morales again leaves no doubt, directing his criticism toward the United Nations, which given its current structure has become a major accomplice in recent military interventions. No one can deny that the UN Security Council has virtually hijacked the world organization and NATO has become its transnational military arm.

The concepts of military action as an extension of politics, and political policy as a condensed reflection of economics, were expressed during the 2010 NATO Summit in Lisbon, where a new strategic vision for the alliance was developed. This organization, created by the principal capitalist countries in response to the Varsovia Pact among socialist nations in Eastern Europe, can now intervene any place on the planet, for any reason whatsoever.

Thus, after listening to several Presidents and UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, Evo's question takes on new meaning, "How can we change the world without changing the United Nations?"

The question is clearly relevant, especially when Evo calls for an end to the establishment of military bases and pretexts for intervention. The United States has, and is expanding, its network of bases in every part of the world.

Bolivia's President did not limit himself to generalities and spoke specifically about Latin America, where a rebellion of nations and peoples against imperial domination has emerged, along with a variety of new political projects underway in different countries.

"We are no longer in the era of adulation of the great powers: We are in the peoples' times. We are in the times of liberation, in the times of a definitive search for social and economic equality for all human beings," he said.

With these words Evo concluded his review of imperialist intervention around the world, and of the emancipation struggle developing, particularly in Latin America.

He also addressed unresolved issues existent in Latin America: the return to Argentine sovereignty of the Malvinas, which were occupied in 1833 by Britain, leading to a war in 1982, when Argentina attempted to recover the islands; an end to the U.S. blockade of Cuba, progressively tightened since 1961, taking on an extra-territorial nature; and, of course, the resolution of Bolivia's right to maritime access, obstructed since 1879 when powerful British and Chilean interests occupied the country's Pacific coastline.

Bolivia has questioned the validity of the 1904 treaty with Chile, imposed by force, and has called for international community support to resolve the country's historic demand for access to the sea, a proposal rejected by the Chilean government. He mentioned the 1977 Torrijos-Carter Treaties as an example of the peaceful resolution of a long-standing conflict. In this instance, the 1903 treaty which gave the U.S. authority over the Panama Canal was revised and reversed.

It is clearly unacceptable that, at this point in history, these Latin American issues have yet to resolved. The President could also have cited the need to end the colonial status of Puerto Rico, return Cuban territory in Guantánamo occupied by a U.S. naval base, and a negotiated, political solution to the armed conflict in Colombia.

The U.S. has always had its sights set on Cuba and Puerto Rico. During the era of the new imperial power's construction, in the early 1800's, the U.S. opposed the independence of the two countries, considered of strategic interest given the doctrine of Manifest Destiny. Cuba attained its definitive independence in 1959 with the triumph of the Revolution led by Fidel, while Puerto Rico is still struggling to free itself from U.S. colonialism, camouflaged with the notion of a 'Free Associated State.'

Evo laid bare the double standard of the U.S. in the struggle against drug trafficking. After emphasizing the inoffensive, medicinal and traditional nature of the coca leaf in Bolivia, without denying that a part of the country's crop serves as raw material for illegal drug operations, the President rejected U.S. intervention in Andean countries under the pretext of a 'war on drugs.'

Among the three Andean countries where coca is grown, Bolivia has reduced surplus cultivation of the plant to the greatest extent, in a concerted, but not repressive, effort. The country was, however, again decertified by the United States.

Enough said. Evo hit the nail on the head. He called for the freedom of the Cuban Five, serving unjust sentences in the United States since 1998, for monitoring anti-Cuban terrorist groups based in Miami. No stone left unturned. •

* Bolivian journalist

Carlos Daley holds an executive certificate in Strategic management and business evaluation from Harvard University and a Masters in Financial Management from the University of Maryland.
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