[Marxism] Evo Morales news: literacy campaign, Cuba visit, Venezuela next

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Sun Jan 1 13:17:36 MST 2006

Virtually nothing has been reported by the English-language imperialist
news outlets on Evo Morales's visit to Cuba, but I think it is of
extraordinary significance and comrades should be aware of what was done
and said. It tells me THIS New Year is going to be a VERY New Year in
Bolivia, and perhaps all of Latin America.

Evo was in Cuba for a very long workday, arriving Friday morning and
leaving in the predawn hours of Saturday morning after signing a
bilateral cooperation agreement. According to press reports, Fidel and
Evo met for 15 hours, in conversations that the Cuban leader described
as having taken up many areas, and held "almost as if in family."

The two leaders also talked by telephone with Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez. After returning to Bolivia, Evo's press officer announced that
the next stop in the president-elect's several-nation international tour
will not be Spain, as originally planned, but Venezuela, although it
will be an abbreviated stopover of a few hours on the way to Spain.

The cooperation agreement was signed before a town-hall type meeting
with Bolivian students in Cuba, during which Fidel wore a miners helmet
that was given to him by a miner that formed part of Morales's
delegation, and which was followed by a question and answer session from
the press.

Under terms of the Cuba-Bolivia agreement, which technically will go
into effect as soon as Morales is formally sworn in January 22, Cuba
will provide technical resources and other support for a literacy
campaign that will begin in July. Morales emphasized that this campaign
would be of special benefit to women in the countryside.

"In a year and a half we plan to teach everyone in Bolivia how to read,"
he said. "It's not possible that in the third millennium there continue
to be illiterates in Bolivia. The State has neglected peasant women."

Cuba pledged full scholarships for 5,000 medical students in the next
two years, in addition to some 800 Bolivians who have been already
attending the Latin American Medical School or other universities on the
island, and is setting up three eye clinics with all necessary
equipment, supplies and personnel to offer free services to Bolivians
who can't afford the services of eye doctors and surgeons. This is an
expansion of a program that was originally an initiative with Venezuela
and is being taken to other countries in the region.

Cuba will also help the Bolivian Government develop its sports programs.

Asked about possible U.S. reactions to closer ties between Havana and La
Paz, Fidel responded, "How could it be possible that the government of
the United States could feel offended because Cuba is cooperating with a
sister nation?"

For his part, Morales reiterated a theme of his campaign, that he will
not tolerate "blackmail or threats" from Washington. "I've never had
good relations with the United States Government," he said, "but I have
had good relations with the people of the United States. The U.S.
Government is constantly accusing me of everything: of being a drug
smuggler, of having a cocaine Mafia, of being a terrorist. So why should
I seek relationships with the U.S. Government? If they want to, they
should respect the sovereign will of the people; if they want bilateral
diplomatic and trade relations, let's do it, but without subjugation,
without subordination, without conditions, without blackmail."

The Havana correspondent of the Mexican Milenio newspapers said Morales
had returned to Bolivia "after warning that Bolivia would follow a
socialist path 'with or without the United States.'

"Morales ruled out that the government of President George W. Bush 'can
stop' the 'new era' that in  his opinion is taking shape in the region
under the leadership of Castro and Hugo Chavez (the Venezuelan leader)
who Morales called 'the commanders of the freedom forces of the

"Morales said the agreement, the first public result of some 15 hours of
private talks with Castro which Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez joined by
telephone, is a result of 'the struggle of the Cuban people, and
especially the struggle waged by Che Guevara.'

"'Without that seed, the struggle for change of the Bolivian people
would not have been possible,' he said."

And the Cuban daily Granma reported that "On the results of the
elections, Evo emphasized that 'I want to tell you that the mission has
been accomplished in this fight for solidarity and humanity. This
victory is also the victory of the Cuban people, who are permanently
fighting for social justice.'...

"Together all of us united we are going to change the not just the
history of Bolivia but of all Latin America and we are going to free
ourselves from North American imperialism," Granma paraphrased Morales
as saying. 

"The Argentine member of parliament and writer Miguel Bonasso said he
considered the meeting of Fidel and Evo Morales to be a historic event,
and said it was a privilege to be a witness to how we are building the
Great Homeland in America, as was dreamed of by the leaders of the
struggle for our first independence. 

"With this humanist battle that President Fidel Castro is waging by
exporting doctors to other countries, this is the most humanitarian
society on earth, he said."

Asked what advice he had given Morales, Fidel preferred to highlight the
historic significance of the victory and expressed his full confidence
in the Bolivian president-elect: "Our brother Evo has all the qualities
needed to lead his country."

After a 6-hour stopover in Venezuela on Tuesday, Morales heads to Spain,
France, Holland, South Africa, China and Brazil. 

*  *  *

Some observations on these and other reports. 

1. Morales is clearly and unambiguously projecting his government not
just as part of what might be called the broader anti-FTAA bloc in Latin
America, which in addition to Cuba and Venezuela also includes the
governments of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, and has been most visible
in trade and diplomatic negotiations, but as one of now three
revolutionary governments in the region.

2. If the reports of Morales's stance towards the United States are
correct, and there really are no contradictions among the various
reports, and they echo the statements Morales made on CNN en Español the
day after the elections, it would seem Morales views a cutoff of U.S.
"aid" to Bolivia as simply a fact. Most of the aid --2/3rds-- is
military and related aid for Washington's "war on drugs" against the
Indian peasantry and of course would not be wanted anyways, apart from
the fact that really, the last thing the Bolivian people need is close
ties between the national army and the Pentagon. But politically, this
means that from the outset the U.S. is taking a sharply confrontational
approach to the new government.

3. The somewhat irregular protocol followed by Cuba --and I suspect
Venezuela will do something similar-- of treating Morales already as
formal president of his country is, I believe, meant to set a precedent
for the quasi-state visits to follow. Cuba's signing a formal
cooperation agreement is along the same lines, but is also obviously
meant to shame/pressure governments like that of Spain to make
commitments *now,* rather than following the usual routine of low level
talks, followed by ministerial level meetings culminating many moons in
the future with a formal state visit where the agreements would be
formally signed. In this regard, Morales is saying especially in
relation to Spain that he isn't going there to demand compensation for
the last 500 years but to have a democratic dialogue and so on. Which
is, of course, a way of raising that Spain in fact owes them for the
last 500 years. 

Diplomatically, it is an extremely aggressive stance, but it makes HUGE
political sense. The message is: "Here is the first head of state since
Bolivia existed that actually is of and represents the MAJORITY of the
country --the indigenous majority the Europeans tried to exterminate--
and you're NOT going to treat him with the honors due a head of state on
some bullshit technicality about the oath of office?" It is a way of
underlining the extraordinary POLITICAL significance of Evo's election
by bending the rules of protocol.

The internet edition of the Cochabamba newspaper "Opinion" put it this
way: "Havana's José Martí airport became the scene of a historic moment
in the memory, not just of Bolivia, but of the entire hemisphere because
it was these that for the first time an indigenous person received the
military honors of a Head of State."

4. The importance of Cuba as an already consolidated socialist
revolution that has scored tremendous advances in fields like education
and health care and maintains an internationalist, revolutionary policy,
becomes clear now, because it allows new revolutionary governments to
immediately provide real social benefits, especially to the urban and
rural poor who are largely outside the formal economy, without a long
process of "bootstrapping" -- building up the necessary personnel,
equipment and supplies and so on.

This is combined with the existence of the Bolivarian revolution and the
very favorable situation in the world market for crude oil producers,
which will facilitate the financing of various projects.

And actions like the 2,300 fully equipped Cuban doctors now in Pakistan
in the wake of the devastating earthquake will highlight to those with a
sense of history what the Soviet Union SHOULD have done over the decades
but FAILED to do because of the bureaucracy's abandonment of
internationalism and how this extinguished the spirit of revolution
among the Soviet working people -- and helps to explain why the USSR and
copycat regimes in Eastern Europe collapsed, but Cuba, the most
vulnerable, exposed and economically smallest of the socialist countries
did not.

5. Fidel has yet to make a more extensive statement along these lines,
at least not that I've seen, but I think attention should be paid to his
judgment that the Latin American political situation is on the verge of
a historic change. After expressing his confidence in Evo's leadership,
according to the Milenio newspapers correspondent's report, he "wished
eternal honor and glory to this great people at a crucial moment when
... one gram can tilt the balance of history in this hemisphere." 

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