[News] US funds $97 Million to destabilize Bolivia

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed May 13 11:18:16 EDT 2009


From: Eva Golinger <evagolinger at hotmail.com>

By Eva Golinger
12 May 2009

Recently declassified documents obtained by 
investigators Jeremy Bigwood and Eva Golinger 
reveal that the US Agency for International 
Development (USAID) has invested more than $97 
million in “decentralization” and “regional 
autonomy” projects and opposition political 
parties in Bolivia since 2002. The documents, 
requested under the Freedom of Information Act 
(FOIA), evidence that USAID in Bolivia was the 
“first donor to support departmental governments” 
and “decentralization programs” in the country, 
proving that the US agency has been one of the 
principal funders and fomenters of the separatist 
projects promoted by regional governments in Eastern Bolivia.


The documents confirm that USAID has been 
managing approximately $85 million annually in 
Bolivia during the past few years, divided 
amongst programs related to security, democracy, 
economic growth and human investment. The 
Democracy Program is focused on a series of 
priorities, the first outlined as “Decentralized 
democratic governments: departmental governments 
and municipalities”. One document, classified as 
“sensitive”, explains that this particular 
program began when USAID established an Office 
for Transition Initiatives (OTI) en Bolivia 
during 2004. The OTIs are a division of USAID 
that function as rapid response teams to 
political crises in countries strategically 
important to US interests. The OTI only address 
political issues, despite USAID’s principal 
mission dedicated to humanitarian aid and 
development assistance, and they generally have 
access to large amounts of liquid funds in order 
to quickly and efficiently achieve their 
objectives. The OTI operate as intelligence 
agencies due to their relative secrecy and 
filtering mechanism that involves large contracts 
given to US companies to operate temporary 
offices in nations where OTI requires channeling 
millions of dollars to political parties and NGOs 
that work in favor of Washington’s agenda. After 
the failed coup d’etat against President Chávez 
in April 2002, USAID set up an OTI in Venezuela 
two months later, in June 2002, with a budget 
over $10 million for its first two years. Since 
then, the OTI has filtered more than $50 million 
through five US entities that set up shop in 
Caracas subsequently, reaching more than 450 
NGOs, political parties and programs that support 
the opposition to President Chávez.

In the case of Bolivia, the OTI contracted the US 
company, Casals & Associates, to coordinate a 
program based on decentralization and autonomy in 
the region considered the “media luna” 
(half-moon), where the hard core opposition to 
President Evo Morales is based, particularly in 
the province of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Casals & 
Associates was also charged with conducting a 
series of training seminars and workshops to 
strengthen oppositional political parties that 
were working against then presidential candidate 
Evo Morales in 2004 and 2005. After Morales was 
elected president at the end of 2005, OTI 
directed the majority of its funding and work to 
the separatist projects that later produced 
regional referendums on autonomy in Eastern 
Bolivia. Their principal idea is to divide 
Bolivia into two separate republics, one governed 
by an indigenous majority and the other run by 
European descendents and mestizos that inhabit 
the areas rich in natural resources, such as gas 
and water. After 2007, the OTI, which had an 
additional budget of $13.3 on top of USAID’s 
general Bolivia program funding, was absorbed 
into USAID/Bolivia’s Democracy Program, which 
since then has been dedicating resources to 
consolidating the separatist projects.

USAID’s work in Bolivia covers almost all sectors 
of political and economic life, penetrating 
Bolivian society and attempting to impose a US 
political and ideological model. The investment 
in “decentralization” includes all the support 
and funding needed to conform “autonomous” 
regions, from departmental planning to regional 
economic development, financial management, 
communications strategies, departmental budget 
structures, and territorial organization designs 
– all prepared and implemented by USAID 
representatives and partners in Bolivia.  As part 
of the program titled “Strengthening Democratic 
Institutions” (SDI), USAID describes its work to 
“enrich the dialogue on decentralization; improve 
management of departmental budgetary resources; 
and promote regional economic development.” 
Through this program, USAID has even created 
“territorial organization laboratories” to help 
regional governments implement their autonomy successfully.

In one document dated November 30, 2007, just 
months before the separatist referendums held in 
Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and Tarija during early 
2008, the Democratic Initiatives Program of 
OTI/USAID worked closely with the Prefects 
(regional governments) to “develop sub-national, 
de-concentrated” models of government. In those 
regions, those promoting such “sub-national, 
de-concentrated” models, or separatism, have made 
clear that their objective is to achieve a 
political, economic and territorial division from 
the national government of Bolivia, so they can 
manage and benefit solely from the rich resources 
in their regions. It’s no coincidence that the 
separatist initiatives are all concentrated in 
areas rich in gas, water and economic power. The 
multi-million dollar funding from USAID to the 
separatist projects in Bolivia has encouraged and 
supported destabilization activities during the 
past few years, including extreme violence and 
racism against Indigenous communities, terrorist 
acts and even assassination attempts against President Morales.


Another principal priority of USAID in Bolivia as 
outlined in the declassified documents is the 
extensive funding and training of oppositional 
political parties. Through two US entities, the 
International Republican Institute (IRI) and 
National Democratic Institute (NDI), both 
considered international branches of the 
republican and democrat parties in the US that 
receive their funding from the Department of 
State and the National Endowment for Democracy 
(NED), USAID has been feeding – with funding and 
strategic political aide – political groups and 
leaders from the opposition in Bolivia. During 
the year 2007, $ was dedicated to 
“training for members of political parties on 
current political and electoral processes, 
including the constituent assembly and the 
referendum on autonomy.” The principal 
beneficiaries of this funding have been the 
opposition political parties Podemos, MNR, MIR 
and more than 100 politically-oriented NGOs in Bolivia.


An additional substantial part of USAID’s work in 
Bolivia has been devoted to intervening in 
electoral processes during the past few years. 
This has included forming a network of more than 
3,000 “observers”, trained by USAID grantee 
Partners of the Americas, a US corporation that 
also receives funding from major companies and 
entities that form part of the 
military-industrial complex. The creation of 
“networks” in “civil society” to monitor 
electoral processes has been a strategy utilized 
by Washington in countries such as Venezuela, 
Ecuador and Nicaragua, to later use such 
apparently “independent” observers in an attempt 
to discredit and delegitimize elections and 
denounce fraud when results are not favorable to 
US interests. In the case of Venezuela, for 
example, the organization that has implemented 
this strategy is Súmate, a Venezuelan NGO created 
with funding and strategic support from USAID and 
NED, that has presented itself in the public 
opinion as “apolitical” but in reality has been 
the principal promoter of the recall referendum 
in 2004 against President Chávez and later the 
leader in denouncing fraud after every electoral 
process in Venezuela lost by the opposition, 
despite that such events have been certified as 
legitimate and “fraud-free” by international 
institutions such as the Organization of American 
States, European Community and the Carter Center. 
These “networks” function as centers for the 
opposition during electoral processes to 
strengthen their position in the public opinion and through the mass media.


USAID’s work in Bolivia is not just oriented 
towards strengthening the opposition to Evo 
Morales and promoting separatism, but also 
involves attempts to penetrate and infiltrate 
indigenous communities, seeking out new actors to 
promote Washington’s agenda that have an image 
more representative of the Bolivian indigenous 
majority. One declassified document clearly 
outlines the necessity to give “more support to 
USAID and Embassy indigenous interns to build and 
consolidate a network of graduates who advocate 
for the US Government in key areas.” The document 
further discusses the need to “strengthen 
democratic citizenship and local economic 
development for Bolivia’s most vulnerable 
indigenous groups.” Per USAID, “this program 
shows that no one country or government has a 
monopoly on helping the indigenous. The program 
shows that the US is a friend to Bolivia and the indigenous

The declassified documents in original format and 
with Spanish translation are available at: www.jeremybigwood.net/BO/2008-USAID

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