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The following is my latest short post for the London Review of Books blog.
In June 2009, the Bolivian state-run newspaper Cambio reported that Alán García, the then president of Peru, had accused Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, of inciting genocide against the Peruvian police force. Morales had expressed solidarity with inhabitants of the Peruvian Amazon opposed to the multinational corporate exploitation of the region’s resources.
Since then, Morales seems to have adjusted his position on both environmentalism and the rights of indigenous peoples. There are plans to build a highway through Bolivia’s Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS). The government has portrayed the road’s opponents as politically motivated allies of US imperialism, and the police have cracked down violently on protesters. The road would benefit Brazilian energy companies and coca-growing Morales supporters who have moved into the area.
The following is my latest piece for Al Jazeera.
Were I transcribing the wet dream of US Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen – self-appointed bulwark against the alleged Islamo-Bolivarian threat to homeland security – I might describe my arrival to La Paz two weeks ago as follows:
Descending from the city of El Alto into the Bolivian capital, my bus was stopped by a battalion of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
All passengers were required to pledge simultaneous allegiance to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Adolf Hitler, and Evo Morales. Once the Iranians had verified that there were no Jewish businesspeople on board available for kidnapping, the vehicle was allowed to pass.
Our progress was once again interrupted, however, by a parade of Iranian diplomats, whose infestation of Bolivia began when the Islamic Republic made the alarming decision to open embassies in Latin America – something no other country in the world has done. Augmenting the infestation are the more than two dozen Iranian diplomatic offspring who have reportedly been enrolled in the international school in La Paz.
The first guest was Michael Dorsey, professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth, who was speaking from the annual climate summit currently underway in Durban, South Africa.
My part begins at minute 27.10 with a wonderfully relevant introductory song.
Henwood has also included the recording of Friedman’s infamous “Suck. On. This” performance on Charlie Rose on behalf of the Iraq war effort. Remarks Henwood in response: “It’s like junior high school, only with automatic weapons and high explosives”.
Listen to the interview at the Left Business Observer or click below:
The documentary film “Cocaine Unwrapped” will premiere at the Open City London Documentary Festival on 17 June at 8:50pm and will screen again on 18 June at 2:10pm.
A short description of the film from the Dartmouth Films website:
This feature documentary is a wake-up call to the West about the human suffering and cost caused by the cocaine trade and the war against it. The film is a skilful combination of reportage from the drugs frontline and interviews with those top-level international politicians who are campaigning to get us in the West to take real responsibility for our drugs problem. Unwrapping the human cost of cocaine, the film shows the true price of this commodity.”
Watch the 3-minute trailer below the fold:
According to an article in the Israeli daily Haaretz entitled “Iran, Venezuela plan to build rival to Panama Canal”, the current border dispute between Costa Rica and Nicaragua—in which the former country has accused the latter of sending military troops into its territory along the San Juan River during a river dredging project—is a “trial balloon” for a new Iranian-funded “‘Nicaragua Canal’ linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans”. The article takes care to specify that Costa Rica is “a country without an army” but does not suggest whether the announcement earlier this year regarding U.S. naval militarization of the Central American nation might also have constituted a trial balloon for something.
While the article goes on to state that “[t]he plan has aroused concern in Washington, and the U.S. has started behind the scenes efforts to foil it”, this information is curiously juxtaposed with other details such as that “[a] U.S. State Department official told Haaretz’s Washington correspondent Natasha Mozgovaya on Wednesday that the U.S. is not aware of any plans to build a new canal in Latin America”.
Yesterday in Washington, D.C, I encountered a Bolivian immigrant named David who had just returned from a trip to La Paz in order to verify that Evo Morales was not in the process of expropriating his house in his absence and who informed me that other world leaders were taking advantage of Morales’ minimal education level to fill in the gaps with their own ideologies. It turned out that the list of usual culprits had been expanded to consist not only of the presidents of Venezuela and Ecuador but that of Iran, as well, whose first ambassador to Bolivia met with Morales this week.
The opening of Iranian diplomatic offices in South America has been of special concern in recent years to the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the U.S. State Department, prompting them to produce such things as “secret reports” about Iranian acquisition of regional uranium and to alert Jewish travelers to their potential kidnapping at the Caracas airport as part of a joint Hezbollah-Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps scheme to transport hostages to Lebanon via the weekly Caracas-Tehran flight on IranAir. (Despite the seeming logistical simplicity of the scheme, it is apparently more difficult to carry out than, for example, assassinations of Hamas leaders in their Dubai hotels.)