Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Machine Gun and The Meeting Table: Bolivian Crisis in a New South America

By Benjamin Dangl

On Monday, September 15, Bolivian President Evo Morales arrived in Santiago, Chile for an emergency meeting of Latin American leaders that convened to seek a resolution to the recent conflict in Bolivia. Upon his arrival, Morales said, "I have come here to explain to the presidents of South America the civic coup d'etat by Governors in some Bolivian states in recent days. This is a coup in the past few days by the leaders of some provinces, with the takeover of some institutions, the sacking and robbery of some government institutions and attempts to assault the national police and the armed forces."

Morales was arriving from his country where the smoke was still rising from a week of right-wing government opposition violence that left the nation paralyzed, at least 30 people dead, and businesses, government and human rights buildings destroyed. During the same week, Morales declared US ambassador in Bolivia Philip Goldberg a "persona non grata" for "conspiring against democracy" and for his alleged ties to the Bolivian opposition. The recent conflict in Bolivia and the subsequent meeting of the heads of state raise the questions: What led to this meltdown? Whose side is the Bolivian military on? And what does the Bolivian crisis and regional reaction tell us about the new power bloc of South American nations?
Full article, photos here: http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1478/1/

Benjamin Dangl is the author of The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia (AK Press), and is the editor of TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world events, and UpsideDownWorld.org, a website covering activism and politics in Latin America.
Email: BenDangl(at)gmail.com

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Republican National Convention 2008

Media workers and activists are being scooped off the streets of in St.Paul, Minneapolis. More than 300 people have been arrested and detained.

8 organizers from the RNC Welcoming Committee, a group of activists facilitating actions around the RNC, have been arrested and face felony charges of "Conspiracy to Riot and Furtherance Terrorism". If found guilty they will face up to 7 1/2 years in prison. The 8 activists were among others arrested when Ramsey county police surrounded a house with M16 rifles and riot gear and proceeded to search and arrest the citizens. The search warrant indicated that they were looking for "bomb making material" such as card board, plastic bottles and twine. Police took laptops, cameras, notepads and other personal belongings.
This is the first such charge ever to be made in Minnesota. Police learned about activities by admittedly spying and infiltrating the group over the past year with an undercover cop and informants posing as a member of the group.

Here is a Copy of Affidavit Used in RNC-WC Raids

The New York City based media group I-Witness has been under watch and harassment of Ramsey county riot cops. Their rented house has been searched twice, their workers have been detained. Police also surrounded their workspace on a bogus claim that hostages were barricaded inside their building. I-Witness acts as a media watchdog for police misconduct towards citizens.

You can watch video of the first preemptive raid here

Philadelphia based Associated Press photographer, Matt Rourke, and three Democracy Now! producers, Nicole Salazar, Sharif Abdel Kouddous, and Amy Goodman are among the many media workers taken off the streets while peacefully doing their job.

You can contact the following offices and demand the immediate release of media workers. Demand that the county attorney's office not press charges against media workers.
Demand that felony charges be dropped for members of the RNC Welcoming Committee.

Chris Coleman, St. Paul Mayor: 651.266.8510
or Chris Rider from Mayor Coleman's office at 651-266-8535
Ramsey County Jail at 651-266-9350 (press extension 0)
Ramsey County Sheriff: 651.487.5149
Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner 651-266-3222