Profit and Autonomy

LA PAZ/BERLIN |

LA PAZ/BERLIN (Own report) - The German Ministry of Development is continuing to pursue its controversial measures of gaining influence in Bolivia. A few days ago, Berlin accorded La Paz a loan of 48 million Euros, earmarked for various waterworks projects in the country. In the past Germans have used this means to demand the privatization of the businesses involved with water, this basic element of survival - and were confronted with massive protests from social movements, which successfully drove profit-seeking investors out of the Bolivian waterworks branch - in spite of German interventions. The recent loan of German development funds takes place in a very tense situation in La Paz. The central government is being threatened by the autonomy movements of the richest provinces in the east of the country, who rely on contacts to several western industrial nations. The milieu of the autonomists, who have their contacts all the way to Germany, includes people who are violence prone, fascists and putschists.

48 Million

The German Ministry of Development is continuing to pursue its controversial activities in the Bolivian waterworks branch. David Choquehuanca, Bolivia's Foreign Minister and the German Ambassador, Erich Riedler signed a contract to this effect on October 2, providing, on the one hand, for a loan of twelve million Euros earmarked for waterworks projects for the cities of Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Sucre and Tarija.[1] This credit, according to press reports, has a term of 40 years with an interest rate at less than one percent.[2] Bolivia receives an additional 36 million Euros also for use in water projects. 23 million of this sum are earmarked for potable water and canalization programs; 2.6 million Euros are planned for emergency measures for the city of Trinidad in Beni Province. The German government's Association for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) is charged with carrying out the numerous waterworks projects in Bolivia, until 2013, according to GTZ information.

Provocations

Over the past few years, both the GTZ and the German Embassy in La Paz were implicated in serious conflicts concerning Bolivian water supply. These conflicts were settled only in 2007 - at least for the time being. The government of President Evo Morales forced the retreat of the private water suppliers, Aguas del Illimani, in which the French Suez Utility Group holds shares. This fulfilled the demands of the years of protests by social organizations against the effects of water privatization. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[3]) In the course of these conflicts, the GTZ and others had clearly taken sides for maintaining the profit-seeking private investors for Bolivian water supply. The German Embassy in La Paz even threatened at the time, to refuse future credits to the Bolivian government in the case of its rejection. "We saw these actions as serious provocations" criticized a Bolivian activist in his conversation with german-foreign-policy.com. After all, Berlin's actions were a violation of the Bolivian population's sovereignty.[4]

Acid Test

The current decision to prolong German activities in Bolivian waterworks has come at a time when Bolivia is experiencing an extremely tense political situation. The question of water is no longer the main focus of public interest and receives much less attention than it had in the past. Today the Morales government is under heavy pressure from the autonomy movement of the eastern low-land provinces, rich in natural resources that are refusing to share their revenues with the poverty stricken regions of Western Bolivia. The nation has for some time been undergoing an acid test. Over the past few weeks and months, bloody outbreaks have erupted between pro-government partisans and those of the pro-autonomy movement. The pro-autonomy side has shown their propensity for violence during these conflicts. For example at least 15 people were killed in September when the autonomists in the Pando Province attacked government loyalists. The governor of the province is being accused of having instigated these murders.[5]

Partner Organization

The principal organizations of the autonomy movement are receiving support from Western industrial nations - including Germany. It drew worldwide attention when the Bolivian government recently expelled the US ambassador. He had been strengthening the autonomists. He could draw on years of experience accumulated during the breakup of Yugoslavia, where, according to reports, he had participated in US - and German - destabilization measures [6] to promote the secession of the Yugoslav constituent republics and the province of Kosovo. The Bolivian organization FULIDE (Fundación Libertzat y Democracia) maintains relations with German and US circles promoting secession. FULIDE is close to several conservative US political foundations and propagates the autonomy of the eastern provinces. FULIDE is also a member of RELIAL (Red Liberal de América Latina), the partner organization of the German Friedrich Naumann Foundation (affiliated to the Free Democratic Party - FDP). RELIAL was founded at the initiative of the Naumann Foundation in 2003 and is its close cooperation partner. The Naumann-Foundation's representative in RELIAL expressed satisfaction, when, at a network meeting, FULIDE director Walter Justiniano spoke of the autonomy movement in eastern Bolivia. With his speech, the FULIDE leader is encouraging RELIAL "to intervene more directly in the internal affairs of this South American country" said the Naumann representative.[7]

Swastikas

One of the most controversial figures of the autonomous movement is a member of FULIDE: the large landowner Branko Marinkovic. Marinkovic is FULIDE's spokesperson and at the same time, president of the Comité pro Santa Cruz, an association of large landowners favoring autonomy. Its youth organization is known for its violence and fascist behavior. The display of swastikas has been documented at several of their political rallies. Bolivian observers point out that Bolivia has its own history with the swastika. After 1945, numerous Nazis had taken refuge in this South American country, among them the mass murderer, Klaus Barbie. Barbie had served several Bolivian dictators - in their counter insurgency efforts.[8] Barbie was in contact with several fascist circles.[9] Nazi affiliated Croatian Ustashi had fled also with him to Bolivia, including some, whose families are among the autonomy supporters. According to the media, the father of Branko Marinkovic, the large landowner and president of the autonomists had also been a member of the Croatian Ustasha before coming to Bolivia shortly after the war.[10]

Putsch Attempt

Bolivian security forces suspect circles close to Marinkovic to be behind the putsch attempt that was uncovered last week.[11] With the help of contacts to Germany, these circles continue their struggle against the Morales government, which has just been confirmed by a two-thirds majority in a referendum. At the same time the German government continues its subversive activities under the guise of its so called development policy. To what extent Berlin's privatization objectives will be reached - not only in Bolivia, but also elsewhere - will depend not least of all on the government in La Paz and the strength of its defense against foreign interference.[12] The outcome of the autonomy struggle for the Bolivian eastern provinces is therefore of direct significance also for Berlin.

Please read also Warnings, Property Obliges, The Balkanization of South America, Divide and Rule and Neoliberal Networking.

[1] Alemania coopera a Bolivia con $us66 millones para obras en servicios básicos; Agencia Boliviana de Información 02.10.2008
[2] Alemania aprueba ayuda financiera a Bolivia; El Paso Times 02.10.2008
[3], [4] see also Schwerwiegende Provokationen
[5] Präfekt von Pando festgenommen; Der Standard 16.09.2008
[6] The Destabilization of Bolivia and the "Kosovo Option"; Global Research 21.09.2008
[7] Victor Hugo Becerra representante de la Fundacion Friedrich Naumann comenta sobre la participacion de Walter Justiniano; www.fulide.org.bo 17.05.2007. See also Neoliberal Networking
[8] see also Property Obliges
[9] Gustavo Sánchez Salazar: Barbie, criminal hasta el fin, Buenos Aires 1987
[10] In Bolivia, a Croat and a Critic Is Cast in a Harsh Light; The New York Times 26.09.2008
[11] Geduld am Ende; junge Welt 11.10.2008
[12] see also Tough Adjustment