History at the Barricades: Evo Morales and the Power of the Past in Bolivian Politics

The following excerpt from my new book, The Five Hundred Year Rebellion: Indigenous Movements and the Decolonization of History in Bolivia, looks at the roots, rise and presidency of Evo Morales, who was overthrown in what is widely understood as a coup on November 10th. The book excerpt, written before this month of violence and state repression, describes how histories and symbols of indigenous resistance have been wielded as tools for liberation and political power in Bolivia, from the government palace to the street barricades. read more

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Toward Freedom: a progressive perspective on world events.

Toward Freedom

1 day 16 hours ago

Sharing a story by Ramzy Baroud on the 2020 US funding package for Israel.

"Billions of US tax-payers’ money will continue to be funnelled into Israel in the next fiscal year, and for many years in the foreseeable future. Republican and Democratic Senators have recently achieved just that, passing a bill aimed at providing Israel with $3.3 billion in annual aid.

The bill, co-sponsored by Democratic Senator, Chris Coons and Republican Senator, Marco Rubio, passed on January 9, only one day after Iran struck US positions in Iraq. Enthusiasm to push the Bill forward was meant as an assurance to Tel Aviv from Washington, that the US is committed to Israel’s security and military superiority in the Middle East.

Despite a palpable sense of war fatigue among all Americans, regardless of their political leaning, the US continues to sink deeper into Middle East conflicts simply because it is unable – or, perhaps, unwilling – to challenge Israel’s benefactors in all facets of the American government."

Toward Freedom

2 days 16 hours ago

Sharing a new report on ongoing conflicts related to a Canadian-Australian-British mining megaproject in Mongolia.

"A coalition of herders, represented by the Mongolian NGOs Gobi Soil and Oyu Tolgoi Watch, submitted a complaint to the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in 2012, during the mine’s open-pit phase.

The complaint describes the mine’s destructive impacts, including the forced relocation of herding communities. Herders raised the alarm that diversion of the Undai River and the sacred Bor Ovoo spring would 'deplete local water sources, deteriorate pastureland, and threaten the community’s spiritual practices.' Access to fresh water in Khanbogd remains limited, as much of it is prioritized for use by the mine.

Oyu Tolgoi’s expropriation of land and construction of fences for the mining license area has forced herders onto one another’s pastures, which are now tight and overpopulated. Soil and vegetation are covered by dust from the mine, and are no longer able to naturally regenerate with the healthy migration of herds. This has also caused horses, camels, goats and sheep on which the herders rely to become sick, creating a vicious cycle of intergenerational impacts for families.

Since the 2012 complaint to Oyu Tolgoi’s lenders, the mine’s owners have failed to deliver on promises of remediation, despite negotiating two agreements in March 2019 with the IFC’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman. Sukhgerel Dugersuren, the head of Oyu Tolgoi Watch, described the early negotiation process as tainted by conflicts of interest, with local business owners acting as 'elected herder representatives.'

A report published last year by the Accountability Council found that only about a third of the mine’s commitments can be considered “complete or well underway.” "

Toward Freedom

5 days 19 hours ago

Sharing an interview from The Conversation that examines political developments in Russia earlier this week.

"On Jan. 15, Putin gave his annual state of the nation address and unveiled 'serious changes to the political system.' In response to the proposed constitutional amendments, which Putin is promoting as 'reforms,' Prime Minister Medvedev and his government resigned.

This move should not be seen as protest, although it might be useful for Medvedev, a longtime ally of Putin’s, to feign independence and appear as if he made the move in dissent. He and Putin orchestrated similar actions in 2008 and again in 2011.

The goal of Putin and his allies is to forestall popular protest among those tired of Putin’s long reign.

Putin’s proposal to redefine the separation of power between the Duma, presidency and prime minister would allow parliament to select the prime minister, a power now in the hands of the president. Together with an agreement to impose strict two-term limits on future presidents, this change suggests that Putin will leave the presidency.

Future presidents would retain control of the security forces and the military but must consult the State Council."

Toward Freedom

6 days 15 hours ago

Great news out of Vermont thanks to the efforts of our comrades at Migrant Justice / Justicia Migrante. Activism works!

"'With this settlement, the state of Vermont makes good on its promise to guarantee access to driver’s licenses without discrimination,' said Migrant Justice leader and suit plaintiff Enrique Balcazar. 'Though justice delayed is justice denied for the many whose lives have been ruined by the DMV’s harmful collaboration with ICE, we firmly believe that this settlement will put an end to that abuse of power going forward. Vermont’s immigrant community can now safely exercise this hard-fought right.'"

Toward Freedom

1 week 21 hours ago

INVASION is a 20 minute film about 10 years of resistance to pipelines in Wet'suwet'en territory, in central "British Columbia," Canada.

Tensions are running especially high this week. If you're not already, follow Wet'suwet'en Access Point on Gidimt'en Territory for realtime updates.

Toward Freedom

1 week 21 hours ago

Sharing a collection of our coverage of the post-electoral crisis in Bolivia, with a short introduction by TF editor Dawn Marie Paley.

Toward Freedom

1 week 1 day ago

Sharing a series of images from last week's protest inside and outside governor Phil Scott's State of the State address in Montpellier, Vermont.

Toward Freedom

1 week 2 days ago

Important interview with Professor Ali Kadivar on Democracy Now! today:

"Iranian students are opposing both autocracy in the country and also imperialist presence in the region. They said American presence has only brought insecurity and chaos to the region. But the students in this statement have emphasized that. The government cannot hide behind imperialist propaganda to suppress Iranian people and to not allow Iranians to express their opinion...

...Iranians have spoken about the fact that the Revolutionary Guards made sure not to kill one American. But just for some reason, they made a mistake in which they killed 176 civilians. There were also about 40 people that died in the stampede in Soleimani’s funeral. So people highlight this kind of incompetence and ask, 'What is the value of Iranian life for Iranian officials?' Iran, for long — the Islamic republic has claimed legitimacy to be an anti-imperialist force. Why is an anti-imperialist force not caring about Iranian lives?"

Toward Freedom

1 week 2 days ago

Sharing an important story from inside Paraguay's Tacumbú prison, reported by William Costa with photos by Santi Carneri.

"Since their detention in May 2006, the social-movement leaders have rigorously maintained their innocence.

'They didn’t find one piece of proof against us. They just made up witnesses, evidence and extradition orders,' Vera told Toward Freedom in an interview inside the jail.

The three other leaders in the cell nod in silent agreement. They listen attentively and raise their hands before speaking with carefully chosen words.

'This is a political sentence,' Vera continued. 'It’s meant to serve as an example to others; to stop them from working to teach people about the reality of this country as we did.'

Important human rights organizations stand firmly behind the six men, who claim that they are political prisoners who have seen their most basic rights trampled upon."

Toward Freedom

1 week 4 days ago

Sharing a story from Ghana on the factors that continue to prevent mining-impacted communities from benefitting from proper revenue sharing. Originally published by The Conversation.

"Despite the establishment of the Minerals Development Fund, mining communities remained saddled with social, economic and ecological challenges. This was partly because transferred royalties were captured by local elites. And there were issues around prompt payments to the fund, its legal status and its mandate.

To address these issues, and to establish a mining community development scheme, a new law, the Minerals Development Fund Act was passed three years ago. The scheme is to receive 20 per cent of the fund’s share (which equals 4 per cent of the total royalties paid by the mining companies to the state, or 0.2 per cent of the mining companies’ total revenue). The scheme is to facilitate development in mining-affected communities. In each mining community, a local management committee is to administer the scheme.

Despite its potential, the act has not been able to address the multiple challenges of mining communities. The reasons for this are myriad. But enough time has passed for the weaknesses in the system to be identified. It’s time the government took steps to fix these once and for all."