Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sept. 27, 2008 H.V. Activist Newsletter

Sept. 27, 2008, Issue #139

This newsletter/calendar, published in New Paltz, N.Y., appears once a month, supplemented by additional listings of new activist events, usually sent to Valley readers only. Editor, Jack A. Smith (who writes all the articles that appear without a byline or credit to other publications). Copy Editor, Donna Goodman. Calendar Editor, Rocco Rizzo. If you know someone who may benefit from this newsletter, ask them to subscribe at If you no longer wish to receive the newsletter, unsubscribe at the same address. Please send event listings to the above email address. The current and back issues of the newsletter/calendar are available at



1. This is a special issue of the newsletter. It is devoted almost entirely to the historic developments now taking place in Bolivia — the struggle by the government of President Evo Morales to implement a progressive political agenda, and to achieve equality for the indigenous people who constitute a majority of the country. It is also a fight for survival against right wing forces, backed by the U.S., who have been disrupting the country with violent demonstrations, sabotage and occupations of government buildings to weaken and remove the government. Our magazine-length first article will bring you the history, facts and analysis about what's going on. The five brief articles that follow concern the indigenous people of Bolivia and elsewhere. What's happening in Bolivia today is having a major impact on Latin America's course of development away from U.S. hegemony.

2. We remind readers about an item in last week's Activist Calendar (sent to Valley residents only): If you want to hear a left view of the financial crisis and the bailout, plus comments on the election and the peace movement, plan to attend Brian Becker's talk Sunday, Oct. 5, at 6 p.m. in New Paltz Village Hall. Becker heads the ANSWER antiwar coalition, which has organized most of the huge peace demonstrations in Washington. Village Hall is on Plattekill Ave., one block south of Main St. (Rt. 299), a mile or so west of Thruway exit 18. A potluck dinner begins at 5 p.m. for those who wish to partake.

3. We thank the activists who turned out for a vigil in New Paltz this morning (Sept. 27) to demand, in the words of our signs, "After the damage of two hurricanes… END THE U.S. COLD WAR BLOCKADE OF CUBA." The event was sponsored by the Caribbean and Latin America Support Project and this newsletter.
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1. BOLIVIA: THE STRUGGLE NEARS A CLIMAX — Most Americans know extremely little, if anything, about the important struggle going on in Bolivia. Right wing oligarchs, corporate leaders, big landowners and politicians, emboldened by their support from the Bush Administration, are doing their all to defeat the progressive government, and paralyze the indigenous struggle for equality. They were whipped in the recent election, so now they are engaging in massive disruption, and are threatening secession.

2. INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF THE WORLD — A news and fact sheet.

3. "LET'S RESPECT OUR MOTHER EARTH" — Bolivian President Evo Morales' words to the people of the world about treating our environment with the greatest respect.

4. FROM MARX TO MORALES — This excerpt about "indigenous socialism" sheds light on what's happening in Latin America today.

5. TEN COMMANDMENTS TO SAVE THE PLANET — From an indigenous left perspective.

6. INDIGENOUS SOLIDARITY WITH BOLIVIA — Indigenous organizations from Ecuador, Colombia, Chile and Brazil express support for the defense of the Bolivia against U.S. schemes.



The United States government has been seeking energetically to disrupt and if possible bring about the overthrow of two democratically elected populist governments in South America — those of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and President Evo Morales of Bolivia.

Washington's campaign has been intensified in recent months and is now mainly focused on Morales, an extremely popular leader in Bolivia who is also the target of a fierce, violent right wing crusade to remove him from office.

The Bush Administration, which supported an unsuccessful coup against Chávez in 2002, is deeply involved in the efforts to thoroughly destabilize Bolivia and make it impossible for Morales to implement his progressive program, or to govern at all.

On Sept. 10 Morales responded to what appears to be a slow-motion coup in progress by ordering the expulsion of U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg, essentially on the grounds of subversion. "Without fear of the [U.S.] empire," Morales announced, "I stand before the Bolivian people today and declare United States Ambassador Mr.[Philip] Goldberg persona non grata. We don't want people here who conspire against our unity. We don't want people who threaten our democracy."

The Bush Administration denied the charges, but the facts — compounded by the entire history of Yankee machinations in the region since the seizure of Cuba and Puerto Rico from Spain in 1898 — support Morales.

Out of solidarity with Bolivia's move, Chávez the next day expelled U.S. ambassador to Venezuela Patrick Duddy, also accusing Washington of supporting a coup plot against his Caracas regime by four retired military officers who were arrested in early September.

Morales addressed the UN General Assembly in New York Sept. 23 and discussed the right wing campaign against his government. Noting that the 12-member Union of South American States (UNASUR) has condemned the insurgency while Washington has remained mute, the Bolivian leader declared that "I would like to hear representatives of the U.S. government rejecting these acts of terrorism. But you know, they are allies; of course they will never condemn this."

Both Chávez and Morales are socialist leaders of capitalist countries who stand on the left wing of the progressive political trend establishing itself in 10 or so capitals in Latin America and the Caribbean — a region that has served as the principal sphere of U.S. hegemony for well over a century, and Uncle Sam is indisposed to accept any diminution of Yankee authority.

Preparing public opinion for further U.S. efforts at destabilization, the White House has sought to demonize both leaders, accusing them of being undemocratic authoritarians — if not outright dictators — and human rights violators. The characterization is spurious . According to a Sept. 14 statement from the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a respected Washington think-tank, "neither Chávez nor Morales can in any manner be condemned for any democratic lapses, lack of human rights observance, nor mistreatment, nor abuse of their citizens."

We will go back now six weeks to early August, and trace events until this writing on Sept. 27, 2008, including earlier events as we progress. It is important to remember that Bolivia is the only country in the Western Hemisphere with an indigenous majority, and Morales is the only indigenous president. What is happening is historic — a rising of the poorest and most oppressed, on the one hand, and forces determined not only to stop the advance of the left but to impede the progress of the indigenous people (also called Native Bolivians).

August 10 was the date that the leftist Bolivian leader won a recall election demanded by the right wing with an extraordinary 67.4% of the popular vote, a democratic majority greater than any enjoyed by a U.S. president since 1820, when the voting procedure was undemocratic. Over 83% of the eligible voters turned out. His total significantly exceeded the 53.7% that first brought him to power in the election of December 2005. Actually the 2005 vote percentage was exceptionally high by previous Bolivian standards. Since hundreds of years of Spanish colonialism were ended in 1825, the country has experienced some 200 military coups and counter-coups, a world record.

Winning with Morales and Vice President Alvaro Garcia, however, were several right-wing prefects (governors) of departments (states) estranged from the central government for reasons we shall explain. These prefects are helping lead the struggle against Morales, backed by the extreme right wing and in some cases fascist organizations.

Huge and joyous crowds in La Paz, the capital, jammed the Plaza Murillo outside the presidential palace on election night, often chanting "Evo, brother, the people are with you." Another chant was "Evo, mano duro," meaning to use a hard fist or hand to establish social order in the face of right wing attacks. This latter suggestion reflects the views of some Bolivian social and labor movements and left organizations that support Morales but believe he has been too hesitant to strike back forcefully against those seeking to destroy the government and its social programs.

The enemies of the left government, supported and financed in part by Washington, are determined to cripple or bring down this regime of progressive reform. They responded in the weeks following the electoral triumph of Morales with defiance, violence, occupations of government buildings and airports, blowing up natural gas pipelines, beatings and humiliations of indigenous people, and a vicious massacre. Without U.S. backing, far less of this would have happened.

The Morales government responded to the violent opposition with an unusual degree of conciliation and calls for negotiations with the right wing forces disrupting the country. Talks are now taking place in Cochabamba department in the center of Bolivia. The rightists are reported to be making extensive demands, one of which is an insistence upon an extreme form of autonomy verging on secession. Morales was willing to entertain a modest autonomy for the right wing departments but on Sept. 25 he rejected what he termed their demand for "de facto independence." The talks are in suspension for a few days so the atmosphere could cool down.

For several weeks after the attacks started the government evidently discouraged mass organizations of workers and peasants from intervening against the rightist onslaught. This situation may be changing. "Some 20 thousand miners, peasants and coca growers are moving on the city [of Santa Cruz, center of the rebellion] to reclaim state institutions occupied by autonomist forces," reported Sept. 25. The report quotes Morales as saying he did not agree with the plans to march into the city." This will be played out shortly.

Morales was elected with the overwhelming support of the country's indigenous population, and from many low-wage workers, poor farmers and progressives of various hue. The main left party, which brought Morales to power, is the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS). He governs as a populist social democrat with a program MAS describes as a “democratic and cultural revolution," though not a socialist revolution.

The opposition forces include such right wing organizations as the umbrella group and command center for the disruptions known as the National Democratic Council (CONALDE), the Santa Cruz Civic Committee, and the neofascist Santa Cruz Youth Union (UJC), about which Jeffery R. Webber wrote in CounterPunch Sept. 11:

"Indigenous peasant and working-class supporters of the government set off on Aug. 29 for a peaceful march to the Plaza 24 September, in the centre of the city of Santa Cruz. A gathering of autonomists [those demanding autonomy from the central government], organized in part by the UJC, were there to greet them.

"According to the mainstream daily La Prensa, one UJC speaker at the autonomist rally declared: 'We are not going to permit [them] into the Plaza…. We don’t want this damned race in our territory.' Other chants and phrases used that day… [included] 'Indians return to your lands.'
"After the speeches, the racists went on a rampage against the unarmed trade unionists and peasants, as well as any visibly indigenous person in proximity of the plaza. Indigenous women wearing the traditional pollera, or gathered skirt, were particularly vulnerable to beatings and racist taunts. One autonomist youth leader, Amelia Dimitri, was captured in video footage and photographs whipping an indigenous woman wearing a pollera. This occurred immediately after Dimitri addressed the crowd of autonomist thugs in a rousing speech. She’s only the latest face of hatred on the autonomist right.

"On national television, Bolivians watched as racist teenagers wielded clubs, whips, and two-by-fours against unarmed indigenous workers and peasants. Images of men and women with broken noses and shirts literally drenched in blood quickly made their way to You Tube, private and national state media, and the front pages of the local newspapers. These are the 'democracy supporters' supported by imperialism against the 'dictatorship' of Evo Morales."

The worst act of violence took place Sept. 11. In this incident, a group of unarmed peasants en route to a large pro-Morales rally protesting rightist attacks on government offices in the department of Pando were massacred by a right wing paramilitary unit with assault rifles. At least 15 unarmed demonstrators were killed (some reports say 30), nearly 40 were wounded and some were reported missing.

Morales, who has not always acted swiftly in response to past anti-government violence, declared a state of siege in Pando, and sent in Army troops who arrested prefect Leopoldo Fernandez, a rightist anti-Morales fanatic who is known to have organized death squads. He acknowledged ordering the attack and has been jailed and removed as prefect.

The right wing has refused repeatedly to respect the authority of the central government in La Paz, high in the Andes to the west, over their lowland political dominions in the eastern half of Bolivia known as the Media Luna (half moon) for its shape.

The main right wing party, Democratic and Social Power, is known by its acronym Podemos (meaning "We Can"). It has a plurality in the Senate while MAS enjoys a majority in the Assembly.

The major political demand of the rightists is for regional autonomy, with the implicit threat of rebellion or secession unless Morales grants them significant economic and political concessions. For him to capitulate would weaken the MAS's reform agenda, particularly since the progressive government has made concessions before in the name of social peace.

The autonomy movement demands considerable control over part of what is now the national economy. It insists upon the power to dispose of lowland natural resources, including having the various eastern departments, not La Paz, receive the bulk of wealth from natural gas extracted from Media Luna; immunity from central government plans to break up unused portions of massive land holdings in order to enlarge the plots of small farmers; and the right to negotiate with foreign investors and even governments, among many other sectional privileges.

These demands would deprive the government of the funding required to carry out the social programs for which it was elected. By nationalizing, with compensation, and taxing nearly 50 oil and gas companies, the Morales government has boosted annual government revenues by $2 billion from profit-hungry enterprises that had previously paid La Paz only $180 million a year. Podemos and its backers want a large portion of such monies to go directly to the eastern departments.

Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. Some 60% of its 9.25 million people lived below the poverty line in 2006, according to the CIA World Factbook. This includes slightly over half this number who are desperately poor by UN standards. Most of the poor are malnourished. Bolivia has the 12th highest poverty rate in the world. President Morales hopes to reduce poverty to 40% or so in a few years — an ambitious goal the right wing seeks to subvert.

In terms of population, 55% of the people are indigenous to the region. They include the Aymara people (of which Morales is one) with 25% of the population, and the Quechua people, 30%. Within these numbers are several other quite small indigenous groups, such as the Chaquenos and Weenhayek. Of the remainder, 30% are mestizo (of mixed heritage) and 15% are white. Most of the economic power is in the hands of the whites.

The majority of Native Bolivians reside in the Andean highlands. They are the poorest of the poor, a status existing since the European Conquest. Morales, a former union leader, was brought into power in large part by the political activism of indigenous workers, coca farmers, the Bolivian Workers' Center, the Huanuni tin miners, FSTMB miners' union, the Workers Confederation and various mass social movements. Some members of these organizations are to the left of the MAS and Morales, and have expressed disappointment at what they consider an overly cautious approach to class politics and of concessions to the European-descended oligarchy.

A special UN investigator looked into the situation of indigenous people in Bolivia and reported to the Human Rights Council last April that there was a "serious persistence of racism and discrimination against indigenous people, and especially against indigenous women. This is still manifested in the behavior of public officials at the national and subnational levels and in the attitudes of political parties and pressure groups, which sometimes incite violence against persons based on their indigenous status…. The mobilization of indigenous peoples in recent years has led to substantial progress in recognition of their rights and their role in the national political process."

Among the struggles that ultimately led to the election of Evo Morales was the historic successful battle in 2000, largely waged by the indigenous population of the altiplano, against the government-approved privatization of the water supply by the U.S. multinational Bechtel Corp. This was followed by five years of insurrectionary strikes and uprisings against neoliberalism, the U.S.-backed former regime's coca eradication project, and the giveaway of natural gas cheaply to foreign investors — actions that forced a government to fall. A second regime was ousted by worker protests in June 2005, this time demanding nationalization of oil and gas.

Morales was elected six months later, after pledging to end neoliberal and free trade policies foisted upon previous governments by the U.S.; to eliminate the oppression of indigenous people; to elevate the living standards of Bolivia's workers; to strengthen small business and the lower middle class; to nationalize certain enterprises; to promote land reform to benefit small farmers; and to provide pensions for older workers. "We are ending privileges," he says, "so that everyone can live well, and not better than our counterparts."

At the same time, he does his best to attract foreign investment, and is not anti-business in practice, though he is in fact an anti-capitalist of the indigenous socialist variety. (Several articles follow that try to explain this concept further, as well as other indigenous issues.)

The right wing opposition is mainly concentrated in the eastern lowlands, within which central government authority seems to be fast evaporating. This wealthy sector of the country includes most of the corporate enterprises, big agricultural estates and abundant natural resources, including the hemisphere's second largest reserves of natural gas amounting to 28.7 trillion cubic feet. According to the Wall St. Journal, this region accounts "for about 65% of Bolivia's economic output," though some estimates go as high as 80%. It is mainly here that the richest families own the biggest landholdings. The UN Development Program reports that just 100 wealthy families own 62 million acres (averaging 620,000 acres per family) while 2 million subsistence farm families average 6 acres each.

Much of the lowland population is of white European extraction and speaks Spanish, including many new arrivals in recent decades, and mestizo. The lowland Native Bolivian minority is often looked down upon, exploited and poor. A deep racist antagonism toward the indigenous citizens is evident in the lowlands. The separatist campaign exploits racism to consolidate its struggle against the left government.

Vice President Garcia sees the racism this way: "We were, and continue to be, a profoundly colonial society where our differences, our jobs, our opportunities are all a function of skin color," he told AP May 2. And speaking in reference to Bolivians of wealth, he said more recently that "they have to understand that the state is no longer a prolongation of their haciendas."

An article distributed Sept. 25 by Latin America Press points out that "Morales has on various occasions accused the opposition of trying to 'tumbar al indio' or 'knock down the Indian,' meaning that it is seeking to topple his government just because he is indigenous. The word 'Indian' has a strong negative connotation in today's Bolivia, and has been largely replaced by the more politically correct indigenous."

The lowlands are politically dominated by a reactionary agro-business oligarchy which is centered in the powerful department of Santa Cruz and spreads out to the smaller departments of Beni, Tarija, Pando, and Chuquisaca. All of them except the last conducted illegal referenda this spring with large majorities — 82% in Santa Cruz, for example — supporting autonomy. The voting percentage was misleading. Most of the pro-Morales forces refused to participate in the voting since it was not recognized by the central government. If the number of those who voted against autonomy were joined by those who boycotted the referendum, not too much more than 50% of those eligible voted for autonomy in a province that harbors the largest opposition to the La Paz government.

The U.S. claims that reports of its intervention in Bolivia to weaken the Morales government are untrue. This is difficult to believe for two reasons. First, its known deportment in Bolivia shows otherwise. Second, history suggests that the White House has rarely, if ever, ignored an opportunity to undermine or replace a Latin American government veering toward departing the Yankee sphere of influence.

Cuba has been punished for nearly a half-century for its act of lèse-majesté in overthrowing an American-favored dictator in 1959 and checking out of the Uncle Sam Hacienda. In 2002, when Venezuelan President Chávez tweaked Washington's intrusive nose once too often, the Bush Administration backed a right-wing coup that failed after holding him prisoner for three days.

Some other unwelcome U.S. intrusions over the years were in Puerto Rico, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Grenada plus all the right-wing military dictatorships in South America aided and abetted from "El Norte" until democracy took hold during the last couple of decades, no thanks to the White House. There are literally several score instances in 110 years when the U.S. has invaded, occupied, bombed, subverted or overthrown governments south of the border — and many other episodes of supporting right wing governments against their own people.

It is hardly surprising that much of Latin America assumes U.S. imperialism has been working with the Bolivian right wing to discredit or overthrow its elected government.

In a press conference after his UN speech in September, Morales told reporters "we have the evidence" of U.S. involvement with the right wing opposition. According to an Inter-Press Service account, "The Bolivian president charged that the George W. Bush administration has not only given away a 'tremendous amount of money' to the opposition groups through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), but also provided them with ammunition to carry out acts of sabotage and killings of unarmed indigenous people." Morales also revealed that he has received "a message" from President George W. Bush saying "if I'm not a friend, I am an enemy."

According to Eva Golinger, a Venezuelan-American New York lawyer and author of the 2006 book "The Chávez Code: Cracking U.S. Intervention in Venezuela," both the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the USAID are backing the campaign to destabilize the La Paz regime.

In an article last September, Golinger wrote that the USAID "program in Bolivia is openly supporting the autonomy of certain regions, such as Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and Tarija, and therefore promoting separatism and the downfall of its elected government. The NED, another one of Washington’s financial organs which promotes subversion and intervention in more than 70 countries across the world, including Venezuela, is also funding groups in regions such as Santa Cruz, which fight for separatism." She has also charged that the U.S. has provided about $130 million to the anti-Morales opposition over a three-year period.

Until he was expelled, Ambassador Goldberg is said to have spent more time in Santa Cruz (the capital of the leading autonomy-seeking province of the same name) than in La Paz. He is experienced in the breakup of nations, having had diplomatic involvement in Yugoslavia during its U.S-assisted disintegration throughout the 1990s, serving for a time as the State Department's Bosnia Desk officer. From 2004 to 2006 he was Chief of Mission in Kosovo, priming the breakaway province for secession.

On Aug. 25, weeks before Goldberg was ousted, he had a secret meeting with Santa Cruz departmental prefect Ruben Costas — a strong advocate of autonomy, the main leader of the five oppositional departments, and a major enemy of Morales. Days later, Costas led an uprising in Santa Cruz city, ordering the occupation and sacking of government facilities such as the tax office, state telecommunications office and oil company, and the Education Dept., among other facilities. During this period office occupations took place in four other cities. Goldberg met the prefects of all the rebellious departments at one time or another.

On Sept. 12 the progressive Washington think-tank Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) called on the U.S. State Department, USAID, and other agencies to release information detailing whom it is funding in Bolivia. Co-director Mark Weisbrot declared that "If Washington has nothing to hide in terms of whom it is funding and working with in Bolivia, then it should reveal which groups those are…."

CEPR also noted that "On Feb. 8 ABC News revealed that the Embassy had repeatedly asked Peace Corps volunteers and a Fulbright Scholar to spy on people inside Bolivia USAID has an Office of Transition Initiatives operating in Bolivia, funneling millions of dollars of training and support to right-wing opposition regional governments and movements."

The Andean Information Network reported Sept. 10 that "USAID made a decision early in the Morales administration to carry out projects directly with departmental governments, the majority of which opposed MAS," and not with the central government. "Furthermore, the funding of a trip for prefects to Washington created the impression that the Embassy sought to strengthen a political opposition bloc."

The main tactical issue of contention between the government and the rightists is the draft constitution Morales seeks to put before the people in a near future referendum. The document expands the powers of the central government, provides the framework for implementing the government's progressive platform, and would allow Morales to run for a second full term. The right wing Senate refused to even consider the matter, so the proposed new constitution was brought to the Assembly, where it was passed last December. Podemos politicians boycotted the final Assembly session when it was evident that MAS delegates would prevail.

The right wing has consistently opposed allowing the masses of people to decide the fate of the draft constitution in a democratic referendum since it would quickly become law. If the agro-business oligarchy succeeds in preventing a vote, Morales could be barred from reelection in 2010.

In response to the mayhem created by the autonomists, the UNASUR convened in Santiago, Chile, Sept. 15, for an emergency meeting attended by nine heads of state who expressed "their full and firm support for the constitutional government of President Evo Morales, whose mandate was ratified by a big majority," and who warned that "our respective governments energetically reject and will not recognize any situation that attempts a civil coup and the rupture of institutional order and which could compromise the territorial integrity of the Republic of Bolivia." They also offered their good offices to help mediate the dispute. In attendance were leaders from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela and of course Bolivia.

Venezuelan President Chávez sought to convince his peers to condemn Washington for supporting the autonomy movement and destabilizing Bolivia, but did not succeed. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a leading figure at the gathering and a moderate within the left trend among Latin American governments, joined in the denunciation of the separatist movement, but was opposed to criticizing Washington in the statement. According to the Guardian (UK), Lula, as he is known, "has faced some domestic political criticism for not immediately defending Bolivia's territorial integrity more strongly."

Morales was grateful for UNASUR's support, which was essential for Bolivia, and he did not press the issue of condemning the U.S. when it was clear that Lula, Colombia, and probably some others were hesitant to do so. The leading Santa Cruz newspaper, El Deber, said the statement by the South American presidents "undeniably strengthened" Morales.

Expressing his gratitude to UNASUR, Morales said: “For the first time in South America’s history, the countries of our region are deciding how to resolve our problems, without the presence of the United States.”

The outcome of the UNASUR meeting, combined with discussions that had been going on for days in Bolivia between the La Paz government and representatives of the political opposition, was the beginning of formal negotiations between both sides to seek a resolution to the political crisis. This process began Sept. 19 and will take months. According to Prensa Latina, the Cuban news agency, the negotiations focused on two main problems:

(1) The new constitution, including the matter of autonomy. Morales had already incorporated a proviso for granting greater autonomy for some indigenous communities, largely to protect their culture, land rights and language . This is quite different from the demands of the right wing autonomists who seek a disproportionate share of the nation's wealth, considerable control of its natural resources, and many other concessions. Now, Prensa Latina reported, Morales was prepared to incorporate changes in the document that would include the "autonomy aspirations in the Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, Tarija and Chuquisaca departments," presumably if agreement could be reached on the nature of those "aspirations." It is not yet known how much Morales will concede to the right wing on this issue.

(2) The disposition of funds from the taxation of natural gas revenues. This is of exceptional importance. The central government quasi-nationalized the natural gas industry soon after Morales came to power, and it now taxes the substantial profits generated from the export of hydrocarbons largely to Brazil and Argentina. This financial windfall has mostly been used to pay for an anti-poverty program, an increase in the minimum wage, and free school meals. The oligarchy and right wing prefects of the Media Luna departments insist that the bulk of this tax money should go to the local governments from whence the resources are derived, not to La Paz. The government is expected to make concessions in this case as well.

The talks in time will cover the matters of changing the constitution to remove the one-term limit, the popular referendum to legalize the changes, and many other differences between the two sides.

Representatives from several institutions are attending the Cochabamba talks, trying to mediate a settlement. They are UNASUR, European Union, Organization of American States, the United Nations and the Roman Catholic Church, to which 95% of the religious adhere in Bolivia.

So far, Morales has relied on his strong electoral majority and popular support to inaugurate basic social reforms and quasi-nationalizations (often joint ventures with Bolivia holding majority control) which have indeed been progressive though limited and within the economic and democratic norms of class society. He has strengthened national sovereignty by developing alliances with all the left-leaning and other governments in the region, and this provides the La Paz administration with a degree of protection from the imperial colossus to the north, but certainly not a true defense. He has also sought allies from afar, including Russia, China, Iran, and others to create an international buffer zone against White House shenanigans.

The Bolivian president has unhesitatingly criticized U.S. imperialism, capitalism, neoliberal globalization, and "free" trade. This left line seems to meet with the approval of the large majority of Bolivians judging by the vote totals, and this has had a progressive political impact upon the Latin American masses and the trend toward declaring independence from Yankee domination.

Now comes the hard part, when not just the contradictions, but the knives, are sharpening.

The right wing oligarchs, corporate leaders, big landowners and politicians who are directing the opposition to the government are emboldened by their support from the United States. They will only be satisfied when they drive Morales, the Movement Toward Socialism, the indigenous struggle for equality, and left wing politicians and supporters out of power in Bolivia by any means necessary.

Failing that, the right wing might settle for severely weakening the Morales government, which is what it hopes will result from the negotiations. Should that fail, the rightists will probably accelerate the campaign to make the lowland departments ungovernable for Morales, and move further toward separation, perhaps seceding with support from Washington. And there's also the possibility of a military coup.

Since assuming the presidency, Morales has sought to avoid a military confrontation with the opposition. He is well aware of Bolivia's history of military coups and counter-coups, the fact that he has inherited an army command handed down from previous conservative governments, and that he must deal with U.S. subversion and its support for a politically powerful and aggressive right wing enemy imbued with contempt for the indigenous majority.

At issue in this situation is just how much Morales is going to sacrifice in state funds, social programs and control of resources to achieve social peace with an intransigent, greedy, racist and undemocratic right wing which was thunderously defeated in a free and fair election less than two months ago. He has retreated before in the face of right wing pressure, for which he has been criticized in some left circles, though not in others.

One fairly harsh American critic is James Petras, the left wing author and observer/participant in Latin American social movements. He wrote in June that the Morales-Garcia government "approved a number of concessions to the oligarchic elites in Santa Cruz, which enabled them to effectively re-build their natural political power base, sabotage an elected Constitutional Assembly and effectively undermine the authority of the central government. Right-wing success took less than 2 1⁄2 years, which is especially amazing considering that in 2005, the country witnessed a major popular uprising which ousted a right-wing president, when millions of workers, miners, peasants and Indians dominated the streets."

Many left supporters are far less critical, given the complex circumstances within which the government finds itself. But according to various Bolivian sources, La Paz has been too restrained in responding to attacks from the reactionaries, and too generous in its concessions to the opposition.

There are two other factors influencing the outcome of this struggle. One, is the United States. The other is the status of the peoples' forces.

Washington's major hemispheric headaches today are Venezuela and Bolivia, who embody the left wing of the progressive trend away from U.S. domination. By neutralizing or eliminating that left wing, the White House may figure it can make a deal with the rest of the region by offering a new alternative: The Hegemony With a Human Face Initiative, perhaps, though camouflaged with a more inspiring title, such as the 20th Century Good Neighbor Alliance for Progress, or somesuch, as Barack Obama seems to be contemplating. McCain, the maverick, won't change the Bush policies, even as a cosmetic makeover.

Could the U.S. be entertaining an "Allende" solution for Morales? This refers to the U.S.-backed military coup against democratically elected President Salvador Allende of Chile on Sept. 11, 1973, paving the way for a 17-year fascist-type dictatorship. There are similarities between the two leaders. Each is a socialist. Each governed despite opposition from most of the ruling class; the White House opposed them both; and the Bolivian army has had long experience with coups d'état. There are several reasons to think Washington may avoid this kind of open exposure today.

(1) The Bolivian army has not yet provided an indication of disloyalty to the Morales government. (2) The United States would immediately be Suspect Number 1 if there were a serious coup, thus alienating much of today's Latin America; (3) Allende won a three-party election with 36.3% of the vote as opposed to 67.4% for Morales. (4) In 1973 Washington controlled Latin America with an iron fist, backing the most brutal right wing dictatorships as part of its fanatical anti-communism binge. (5) Allende and his leftist Popular Unity party had hardly any support from regional governments except Cuba; Bolivia has many allies.

The second factor is that a strong and militant workers' movement with a long history of struggle is behind the Morales government and its reforms, as is the entire indigenous community and a number of progressive social movements and parties. Some of them want the MAS government to speed up its reforms and to take a tougher stance toward the right wing disrupters.

The supporters of Evo Morales — the raw popular power behind the 2000-2005 uprisings — have been virtually demobilized by the left government since it assumed office in January 2006, except for electoral tasks. They seem to have been held back even in the face of the post-election destabilization campaign of violence and intimidation. A part of this popular force, evidently without orders from La Paz, showed up in several places to counter right wing brutality in the weeks after the August election. The reported march toward Santa Cruz is an example of what could happen on a much larger scale.

If called upon in a more serious crisis — an attempted coup, a revolutionary offensive, or the U.S.-engineered secession of the wealthiest half of the country — they can become a decisive element in the struggle, assuming they are organized, armed and provided with strong, unwavering leadership from the center. This brings up Chile again: Allende had numerous supporters — several hundred thousands of whom rallied in Santiago before the coup — but political circumstances made it difficult for his government to mobilize and arm the masses.

In Bolivia the government has overwhelming support and tough mass movements. There are those in that country today who believe these forces should be mobilized sooner than later to make sure that the popular progressive program backed by the overwhelming majority of Bolivians is not scuttled by a right wing minority and its behind-the-scenes U.S. patron.



The political situation in Bolivia has focused attention on that country's indigenous peoples, who, as we noted above, constitute 55% of the population — the largest proportion in the Americas.

In Guatemala and Peru, the indigenous peoples are between 40-45% of each population — and they are still struggling for their rights. In Peru they are fighting off a government effort making it easier to sell off native lands to promote capitalist investment in the highlands, as mandated by the impending U.S. free trade arrangement. In Guatemala, indigenous groups are demanding that the government take steps to implement the terms of the UN's Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Many countries in the Western Hemisphere have huge populations of the part-indigenous, known by the Spanish word mestizo. In Colombia, where 3.4% of the population is indigenous, 82.1% is mestizo; in El Salvador it's 1% and 90%; in Brazil, 0.4% and 30%. Bolivian President Evo Morales is an indigenous person. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is a mestizo, as is 49% of his country's population (2% are Indigenous).

One definition of indigenous peoples is that they possess the earliest historical connection to the geographic region they inhabit, or have been removed from. A word sometimes interchanged with indigenous is autochthonous, which means "formed or originating in the place where found."

Another definition, in the UN files, holds that "Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of societies now prevailing in those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop, and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal systems."

The University of Minnesota Human Rights Center reports: "Indigenous peoples worldwide number between 300-500 million, embody and nurture 80% of the world’s cultural and biological diversity…. Despite such extensive diversity in indigenous communities throughout the world, all indigenous peoples have one thing in common — they all share a history of injustice. Indigenous peoples have been killed, tortured and enslaved. In many cases, they have been the victims of genocide. They have been denied the right to participate in governing processes of the current state systems. Conquest and colonization have attempted to steal their dignity and identity as indigenous peoples, as well as the fundamental right of self-determination."

Native peoples are almost always the poorest and most oppressed segment of the population in 21st century nation states. Today, following the Euro-American policy of extermination, oppression, displacement, and forced assimilation, the remaining Native American population (about 0.9% of total population) for the most part exists in extreme poverty. One symptom of this deplorable treatment is that Native Americas probably have "the highest suicide rate in the world," according to the U.S. Indian Health Service in April. The American Psychological Association reported last year the incidence of suicide among Native Americans was "two and a half times higher than the national average. The rate for Indian youth and young adults 15 to 24 years old is over three times higher than the national average for this age group."

Here are some key facts about indigenous peoples of the world:

• Indigenous peoples amount to about 5% of the world’s population yet account for about 15% of the world’s poor.

• Indigenous peoples have some 4,000 languages.

• There are more than 5,000 different groups of indigenous peoples living in more than 70 countries.

• Indigenous peoples live in every region of the world, but about 70% of them live in Asia.

• Latin America’s 50 million indigenous people make up 11% of the region’s population.

• During the 1990s the indigenous poverty gap in selected countries in Latin America grew to be wider than ever in history. And of course they suffer the greatest discrimination.

• In Guatemala 86.6% of indigenous peoples are poor, and in Mexico 80.6% of them are poor.

• A recent study indicated that ending the marginalization of indigenous peoples could bring about the expansion of the national economies of Bolivia (by 37%), Brazil (by 13%), Guatemala (by 14%) and Peru (by 5%).

— Many of these brief facts were gathered from the Rural Poverty Portal, accessed at:



Protection of the natural environment is a key element in indigenous thought. On Sept. 27, 2007, Bolivian President Evo Morales wrote and sent a letter to all the member representatives of the United Nations on the issue of the environment. It was titled, "Let's Respect Our Mother Earth." The letter follows:

Sister and Brother Presidents and Heads of States of the United Nations:

The world is suffering from a fever due to climate change, and the disease is the capitalist development model. Whilst over 10,000 years the variation in carbon dioxide (CO2) levels on the planet was approximately 10%, during the last 200 years of industrial development, carbon emissions have increased by 30%. Since 1860, Europe and North America have contributed 70% of the emissions of CO2. 2005 was the hottest year in the last one thousand years on this planet.

Different investigations have demonstrated that out of the 40,170 living species that have been studied, 16,119 are in danger of extinction. One out of eight birds could disappear forever. One out of four mammals is under threat. One out of every three reptiles could cease to exist. Eight out of ten crustaceans and three out of four insects are at risk of extinction. We are living through the sixth crisis of the extinction of living species in the history of the planet and, on this occasion, the rate of extinction is 100 times more accelerated than in geological times.

Faced with this bleak future, transnational interests are proposing to continue as before, and paint the machine green, which is to say, continue with growth and irrational consumerism and inequality, generating more and more profits, without realizing that we are currently consuming in one year what the planet produces in one year and three months. Faced with this reality, the solution can not be an environmental make over.

I read in the World Bank report that in order to mitigate the impacts of climate change we need to end subsidies on hydrocarbons, put a price on water and promote private investment in the clean energy sector. Once again they want to apply market recipes and privatization in order to carry out business as usual, and with it, the same illnesses that these policies produce. The same occurs in the case of biofuels, given that to produce one liter of ethanol you require 12 liters of water. In the same way, to process one ton of armfuls you need, on average, one hectare of land.

Faced with this situation, we - the Indigenous peoples and humble and honest inhabitants of this planet - believe that the time has come to put a stop to this, in order to rediscover our roots, with respect for Mother Earth; with the Pachamama as we call it in the Andes. Today, the Indigenous peoples of Latin America and the world have been called upon by history to convert ourselves into the vanguard of the struggle to defend nature and life.

I am convinced that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, recently approved after so many years of struggle, needs to pass from paper to reality so that our knowledge and our participation can help to construct a new future of hope for all. Who else but the indigenous people, can point out the path for humanity in order to preserve nature, natural resources and the territories that we have inhabited from ancient times.

We need a profound change of direction, at the world wide level, so as to stop being the condemned of the earth. The countries of the north need to reduce their carbon emissions by between 60% and 80% if we want to avoid a temperature rise of more than 2º in what is left of this century, which would provoke global warming of catastrophic proportions for life and nature.

We need to create a World Environment Organization which is binding, and which can discipline the World Trade Organization, which is propelling as towards barbarism. We can no longer continue to talk of growth in Gross National Product without taking into consideration the destruction and wastage of natural resources. We need to adopt an indicator that allows us to consider, in a combined way, the Human Development Index and the Ecological Footprint in order to measure our environmental situation.

We need to apply harsh taxes on the super concentration of wealth, and adopt effective mechanisms for its equitable redistribution. It is not possible that three families can have an income superior to the combined GDP of the 48 poorest countries. We can not talk of equity and social justice whilst this situation continues.

The United States and Europe consume, on average, 8.4 times more than the world average. It is necessary for them to reduce their level of consumption and recognize that all of us are guests on this same land; of the same Pachamama.

I know that change is not easy when an extremely powerful sector has to renounce their extraordinary profits for the planet to survive. In my own country I suffer, with my head held high, this permanent sabotage because we are ending privileges so that everyone can "Live Well" and not better than our counterparts. I know that change in the world is much more difficult than in my country, but I have absolute confidence in human beings, in their capacity to reason, to learn from mistakes, to recuperate their roots, and to change in order to forge a just, diverse, inclusive, equilibrated world in harmony with nature

Evo Morales Ayma
President of the Republic of Bolivia



Following is an excerpt from a longer essay by John Riddell titled "From Marx to Morales: Indigenous Socialism and the Latin Americanization of Marxism." It was posted to June 17 this year. This provides an insight into the struggles in Bolivia and Latin America. Here's the excerpt:

The boldest governmental statements on the world's ecological crisis are coming from Cuba, Bolivia, and other anti-imperialist governments in Latin America. The influence of Indigenous struggles is felt here. Bolivian President Evo Morales points to the leading role of Indigenous peoples, "called upon by history to convert ourselves into the vanguard of the struggle to defend nature and life."

This claim rests on an approach by many Indigenous movements to ecology that is inherently revolutionary. Most First-World ecological discussion focuses on technical and market devices, such as carbon trading, taxation, and offsets, that aim to preserve as much as possible of a capitalist economic system that is inherently destructive to the natural world. Indigenous movements, by contrast, begin with the demand for a new relationship of humankind to our natural environment, sometimes expressed in the slogan, "Liberate Mother Earth."

These movements often express their demand using an unfamiliar terminology of ancestral spiritual wisdom -- but behind those words lies a worldview that can be viewed as a form of materialism.

In pre-conquest Andean society, says Peruvian Indigenous leader Rosalía Paiva, "Each was a part of all, and all were of the soil. The soil could never belong to us because we are its sons and daughters, and we belong to the soil."

Bolivian Indigenous writer Marcelo Saavedra Vargas holds that "It is capitalist society that rejects materialism. It makes war on the material world and destroys it. We, on the other hand, embrace the material world, consider ourselves part of it, and care for it."

This approach is reminiscent of Marx's thinking, as presented by John Bellamy Foster in [his book] "Marx's Ecology." It is entirely appropriate to interpret "Liberate Mother Earth" as equivalent to "close the metabolic rift." [Editor's Note: According to the Encyclopedia of the Earth, "Metabolic rift in the most general sense refers to a disruption in the exchange between social systems and natural systems, which is hypothesized to lead to ecological crisis."]

Hugo Chávez says that in Venezuela, 21st Century Socialism will be based not only on Marxism but also on Bolivarianism [named after the South American independence leader Simón Bolívar], Indigenous socialism, and Christian revolutionary traditions….

I will conclude with a story told by the Peruvian Marxist and Indigenous leader Hugo Blanco. A member of his community, he tells us, conducted some Swedish tourists to a Quechua village near Cuzco. Impressed by the collectivist spirit of the Indigenous community, one of the tourists commented, "This is like communism."

"No," responded their guide, "Communism is like this."

— The full text of John Riddell's "From Marx to Morales…" is available at

— The Encyclopedia of the Earth is at



On April 21, 2008, Evo Morales delivered a speech in New York at the Seventh United Nations Indigenous Forum, known as his "Ten Commandments to Save the Planet, Life and Humanity." Here is a brief excerpt just listing the "commandments."

1-Stopping the capitalist system
2-Renouncing wars
3-A world without imperialism or colonialism
4-Right to water
5-Development of clean energies
6-Respect for Mother Earth
7-Basic services as human rights
8-Fighting inequalities
9-Promoting diversity of cultures and economies
10-Living well, not living better at the expense of others

— A report about the speech is available at



On Sept. 26, six indigenous organizations from Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador, called for an "International meeting of solidarity with Bolivia in Santa Cruz, Oct. 23-25, 2008." They headlined their document with these words: "Those who stand with Bolivia, stand for all people, all the time!" The names of the groups are at the bottom. We here print the text of their call without alteration to provide our readers with a deeper sense of the objectives and the role of indigenous peoples in South America in the struggle for a better world, as expressed by some of their organizations:

1. The dignified inhabitants of this Abya Yala (American) continent have been struggling for centuries to re-establish SUMAK KAWSAY (Living Fully) that was seized from us by the invaders and subsequent colonizers. Throughout the ages they have murdered worthy leaders, usurped the wealth of the people and at the height of their greed, violated all human rights and those of Pachamama [Mother Earth], aided and abetted by members of the religious hierarchies who forged accords with the political and economic power in each historical period.

2. After 516 years, the neo-invaders and conquistadores seek to abort the libertarian rebirth in Latin America, and so the descendants of the murderers and usurpers return with their neoliberal policies, provoking new genocides and larcenies.

3. North American imperialism and its allies within the Latin American oligarchy are trying to halt the liberation processes in countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Nicaragua, among others; and so the oppressors shed their sheep's clothing in order to fully display their predatory wolves' fangs, ready to save their outdated political, social, economic and cultural system by any means necessary. Bolivia is now the target of the largest offensive by these sectors who believe themselves to be owners and lords of the world, intending to permanently appropriate for themselves the water, gas, oil, and land that belong to the Bolivian people.

4. In Bolivia, the groups that make up the so-called "Half-Moon," which are fascist civic-prefectural groups, descendants of those who served Hitler in his deathly project and following their defeat in the Second World War, fled to various countries, Bolivia among them, are unable to comprehend that the time has come for stolen property to be returned to its legitimate owners.

They cannot bear that in Bolivia, for the first time in Latin American history, with more than 53% of the vote {in December 2005], the people chose the Aymara brother, Evo Morales Ayma as their president; an heir to the rebellion of Tupac Katari, Bartolina Sisa, Tupak Amaru and Che Guevara; a man born of Pachamama and forged in the social insurgency lit by the millennial fire of the sacred COCA leaf; who called a new Constituent Assembly and won all battles cleanly and with dignity; who struggles for a true Agrarian Reform in a country where more than 80% of the population is impoverished, and who was ratified as President of the Republic by 67% in a referendum held August 10th; who nationalized strategic resources such as oil and natural gas; who implemented social measures in solidarity, in order to favor the least protected; who with a dignified attitude expelled the United States Ambassador in La Paz, Philip Goldberg, for conspiring against Bolivia's sovereignty and refusing to respect the people's right to self-determination; among other measures that demonstrate his unwavering commitment to serve the people who now ratify him as President.

5. These anti-democratic sectors, finding themselves defeated and in the middle of complete desperation to maintain their privileges, began a divisive plan of autonomy for Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni, Pando, and with the help of a terrorist group called the "juventud cruceñista" [Santa Cruz Youth Union] are implementing a new phase of their COUP PLAN, by the taking of public institutions, and in an effort to destabilize the legitimate government of Evo Morales, SLAUGHTERED AND KILLED scores of unarmed indigenous and peasants in Porvenir (Pando), the very same who through their struggle have been added to the thousands of heroes and martyrs who have offered their lives for the ultimate recovery of Sumak Kawsay on our continent.

6. Faced with these situations, in the name of Pachamama's loving and rebellious cry for justice, of the dignified women and men who aspire to leave our sons and daughters a planet where we might live in universal brotherhood, through the exercise of the right to a dignified life, the right to self-determination for the people, and respect for inter-cultural and multinational coexistence; for a just and fraternal world, we call on all organizations of indigenous, Afro-Americans, peasants, workers, women, social movements, students, networks, intellectuals, personalities, friends of revolutionary causes, to the INTERNATIONAL MEETING OF SOLIDARITY WITH BOLIVIA, to be held on October 23 and 25 in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, in order to unite our forces and hearts, and testify together to the world that BOLIVIA DOES NOT STRUGGLE ALONE.
That is why we join with President Evo Morales and endorse his words:

"Many times I will be wrong, who isn't once in awhile? But in the struggle against neoliberal colonization, I will never be wrong, I will never betray them." (Evo Morales, Umala, May 3rd, 2008)


• Confederation of People of Kichwa Nationality from Ecuador. (ECUARUNARI)
• Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE)
• National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) - Colombia
• Council of All Lands - Chile
• Landless Movement (MST) - Brazil
• Campesina Way - Brazil


Monday, September 15, 2008

Sept. 15, 2008, Activist Newsletter

Sept. 15, 2008, Issue #139

Editor's Note

1. The Part 1 news and articles portion of the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter will be emailed later in the month. Included will be a geopolitical analysis of the Georgia events, focusing on U.S.-Russia relations; a survey of U.S.-Latin America relations in view of the elections and the Bush Administration's latest efforts to subvert progressive governments in the region; a full account of the crisis in Bolivia; and a look at the presidential campaign, among other articles.

2. There seem to be fewer activist events than usual from mid-September throughout October. Part of this is because in presidential election years liberal activists focus their efforts on electing Democrats to the exclusion of much else. But the antiwar movement has been fairly quiet as well, more so, it seems to us, than usual.

3. At the very end of this calendar is a special treat.


Wednesday, Sept. 17, POUGHKEEPSIE (Vassar College campus): The well-known British-Pakistani progressive intellectual Tariq Ali will deliver a public lecture on "The Deadly Triangle: The U.S., Pakistan and Afghanistan." He will speak on campus at 5 p.m. in Sanders hall, room 212. Enter at 124 Raymond Ave. Ali, an historian and a journalist associated with the UK's New Left Review, has just published the latest of his several books, titled "The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power." The event is sponsored by Vassar Green Party. Information,

Thursday, Sept. 18, PLEASANTVILLE: The 2008 documentary, "The New 'Selling of the
President' 2008," will be shown at 8 p.m. followed by a discussion with David Schwartz (Museum of the Moving Image), Allison Fine (author, Rebooting America), Micah Sifry (author, activist), and Steve Apkon (Jacob Burns Film Center). It will be an evening of political commercials and Internet clips from the Obama/McCain contest interspersed with conversation, speculation and interpretation. The venue is the Jacob Burns Film Center, 364 Manville Rd. Information, (914) 773-7663,

Friday, Sept. 19, PURCHASE: A discussion on "Access to Health Care:
Westchester & Putnam Counties" will last from 8:30-10-30 a.m. in the Performing
Arts Center, at Purchase College. Speaking will be Lillian Jones (Access to Health Care
Coalition), Rep Nita Lowey (D-NY), many others. Sponsors include American Cancer Society, BALCONY, Purchase College, United Way of Westchester & Putnam, Westchester Visiting Nurse Services, Westchester/Putnam AFL-CIO Central Labor Body, Westchester Community Foundation.

Friday, Sept. 19, NEW PALTZ: The documentary "Hacking Democracy" will be shown at the Elting Library, 93 Main St., at 8 p.m. The film demonstrates how election machines were rigged in Florida in 2000, the difficulty in obtaining information about such violations, and the ease of hacking into such voting systems, one type of which is approved for use in New York State. Public and free.

Saturday, Sept. 20, YONKERS: A forum on police brutality is to be held at the Yonkers Riverfront Library, 1 Larkin Ave., 12 noon-3 p.m. The sponsor is the Westchester chapter of Blacks in Law Enforcement. Information,

Saturday, Sept. 20, ALL OVER: Thousands of activists across the United States will be knocking on doors soliciting signatures for petitions to Congress to end the unjust, illegal war in Iraq and to bring the troops home within a year. Groups participating in the "Million Doors for Peace" campaign include Catholics United, Cities for Peace, CodePink, Democracy for the America,, Pax Christi USA, Peace Action, Progressive Accountability, Progressive Democrats of America, Organic Consumers Association, United for Peace & Justice, Voters for Peace, and Win Without War. The project has been initiated by and USAction Education Fund. For information and to participate, To view the petition,

Monday, Sept. 22, ALBANY: Today is a national day of action against health insurance companies and to promote a single payer healthcare solution. In the Capital District, meet in front of the NYS Insurance Department, 99 Washington Ave., 5-6 p.m. Sponsored by Hunger Action Network, Capital District Alliance for Universal Healthcare and the Solidarity Committee, HealthCare-NOW! Information, (518) 426-0883

Friday, Sept. 26, MILLBROOK: The disappearance of a substantial portion of the bee population in America is the topic of a discussion beginning at 7 p.m. David Hackenberg, former president of the American Federation of Beekeepers, will read from and comment upon author Michael Schacker's recent book "A Spring Without Bees: How Colony Collapse has Endangered our Food Supply." The free public event will be held at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Route 44A at 7 p.m. Sponsored by the institute and Merritt Books. Information (845) 647-6487,,

Saturday, Sept. 27, ALL OVER: Today is the National Day of Action to Stop War on Iran before it begins. Marches, rallies, teach-ins, and vigils will be held in up to 100 cities, according to the organizers, the Stop War On Iran Campaign. In NEW YORK CITY, activists will meet at 12 noon for a march at Times Square, 42nd St. and Broadway, a few blocks from Hudson Valley train and bus connections. In WAPPINGERS FALLS, participants in the weekly antiwar vigil will carry "No War in Iran" signs as part of the national action. This local event takes place 12 noon-2 p.m. at the intersection of Rts. 9 and 9D in Wappingers Falls, near the South Hills Mall and across from Staples. Other weekly vigils may also be dedicating this day t o Iran. Information,, For the Wappingers Falls vigil,,

Saturday, Sept. 27, ALBANY: Before he was elected president of Bolivia in December 2005 — the first indigenous president in all the Americas — Evo Morales was a union leader. The 2007 documentary Cocalero, which will be shown tonight at 7 p.m., focuses on "the union formed by Bolivian farmers in response to the Bolivian-U.S. government effort eradicate coca crops, and the man who would come to represent them." This free public event takes place at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Albany, 405 Washington Ave. Sponsored by the Solidarity Committee of the Capital District, Upper Hudson Peace Action, Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace. Information,, (518) 426-0883,

Sunday, Sept. 28, NEW YORK CITY: Animal rights activists may wish to travel to NYC today to take part in the Annual Farm Sanctuary Walk for Farm Animals, which has been organized in scores of cities. It's intended to raise both consciousness and funds. Vegan food provided by the Groovy Baker, live music, and guest speakers. Register at 10 a.m.; walk through Central Park begins at noon from Merchant's Gate, Columbus Circle (59th St.). Information and advance registration,,

Sunday, Sept. 28, BEACON: Clearwater's Annual Gathering from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. at the former University Settlement Camp, 724 Wolcott Ave. (Rt. 9D). Information, (845) 454-7673 and

Wednesday-Sunday, Oct. 1-5, WOODSTOCK, RHINEBECK AND ROSENDALE: The annual five–day Woodstock Film Festival will be held on these days at several locations. A full schedule of events and all the information you need is at this website: We will mention only one of the many films of interest to residents of the Hudson Valley, especially the Mid-Hudson region, who have experienced (or may soon experience) Lyme Disease from a deer tick bite. The title is "Under Our Skin," directed by Andy Abrahams Wilson and released this year. It will be at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck Oct. 4 at 3:30 p.m. It is described on the website, along with scores of other most interesting films.

Friday, Oct. 3, POUGHKEEPSIE: The wonderful 2007 documentary, "Pete Seeger: The Power of Song," will be shown tonight at 7:30 p.m. at The Muddy Cup, 305 Main St. It's public and free, sponsored by he Dutchess Peace Coalition. Information, (845) 876-7906,

Sunday, Oct. 5, NEW PALTZ: Brian Becker, the founder and leader of the nationwide ANSWER peace coalition, will speak tonight on the topic of sharply increasing world tensions, the U.S. elections and the American antiwar movement tonight at 6 p.m. Becker, who was arrested Sept. 12 at an event in front of the White House, has organized most of the largest peace protests during the Iraq-Afghan war period. The meeting will take place at New Paltz Village Hall on Plattekill Ave., one block south of Main St. (Rt. 299), a mile or so west of Thruway exit 18. (When you reach Starbucks corner, Plattekill Ave., turn south one block. It’s just past the firehouse on the right.) Park in the Village Hall parking lot. All are invited and it’s free. A potluck dinner begins at 5 p.m. for those who wish to partake. The meeting is sponsored by the Caribbean and Latin America Support Project, and strongly recommended by the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter. Information and directions, (845) 255-5779 or email

Saturday, Oct. 11, BEACON: The third annual Dissident Folk & Arts Festival will hold forth tonight, 6-11 p.m. at The Howland Cultural Center, 477 Main St. The event "will feature a wide array of topical musicians, protest poets, radical theatre artists," including Bev Grant and the Dissident Daughters; alternative protest song group The Flames of Discontent; Michael Strong's Tribute to Bertolt Brecht; musician/activist Chris Ruhe and the vocalist Alvin Bell; and many others. Admission $8. Information, 845-831-4988,,

Saturday, Oct. 11, WOODSTOCK: Palestinian "Nakba" vigil 2:30-4 p.m.Village Green at 12 Tinker St. Sponsored by: Middle East Crisis Response. Information 845 876-7906. Information,,

Saturday, Oct. 18, YONKERS: A discussion on "Rethinking Race, Power and
Politics in Westchester County Through the Lens of Civil
Liberties" will take place 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at Yonkers Riverfront Library, 1 Larkin Center. Speakers David Billings and Ron Chisom will discuss the analysis of racism
developed by New Orleans-based People's Institute for Survival and
Beyond. There will be a light lunch.
Registration is required. Call (914) 682-4690. Information,

Saturday, Oct. 18, PITTSFIELD, MA: A day-long conference on "How To Prevent War On Iran AND On The U.S. Constitution" will be held at the Susan B. Anthony Lounge of Berkshire Community College. Pittsfield is only a few miles from New York's Colombia County, and a few more from Rensselaer County. There are two main speakers, among many others: (1) UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter, the man who insisted before the U.S. invasion that Iraq already got rid of its weapons of mass destruction. He will have just returned from a long trip to Iran. (2) Joseph Gerson, Program Director for the American Friends Service Committee in Cambridge, MA, who has written numerous books on global affairs and has traveled widely in the Middle East. There will be workshops and various small-group discussions throughout the day as well as plenary meetings. Admission for the day is $10, Seniors $8, Students $5. Registration takes place between 8:30-9 a.m. The sessions last from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The event is sponsored by Global Issues Resource Organization of Berkshire Community College, Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice and Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace. Lunch may be purchased in the cafeteria. Full details and directions, Information, Don Lathrop (518) 781-4681,, George Desnoyers, (413) 443-4298, and


Here's a link to a brief video of Gov. Sarah Palin's first rehearsal of the speech she made at the GOP Convention. It's titled "The Logic of Change'" and may be accessed at