‘Restoration of Israel-Bolivia ties makes a mockery out of human rights’

A pro-Palestinian activist says the restoration of relations between Bolivia and Israel is an exercise that makes a mockery out of human rights.
Ramona Wadi

“When seen within the context of how the international community has provided Israel with perpetual impunity, the restoration of relations between Bolivia and Israel is yet another exercise that makes a mockery out of human rights,” Ramona Wadi said in an interview with the Balkans Post.

The following is the full transcript of the interview:

Balkans Post: Former Bolivian President Evo Morales was forced to resign on November 10 under pressure from the country’s armed forces. Morales said it was a U.S.-backed coup d’état against his administrator. What’s your take?

Ramona Wadi: It is undoubtedly a U.S.-backed coup d’etat. As early as 2008, just two years after Evo Morales was elected president, the Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro had warned about the perils of imperialism. He warned that the U.S. is “bent on disintegrating Bolivia and submitting it to alienating work and hunger … The imperialist motto is to punish Evo and get rid of him.” In punishing Morales, who was Bolivia’s first indigenous president, the U.S. has also punished Bolivia’s indigenous population – the bulwark of any anti-colonial and anti-imperialist forces – and aided in ushering in a white female dictator, right-wing senator Jeanine Añez, as the purported interim president. Prior to the coup, right-wing opposition mobs in Bolivia were already targeting the indigenous population – one prominent case being the attack on Patricia Arce, the Mayor of Vinto. A group of anti-government demonstrators dragged her to a bridge, cut off her hair and doused her in red paint. The violence continued after the coup, in ways reminiscent of Latin America’s dictatorship era. This is also manifested in the fact that Bolivian coup plotters were reported to have been trained at the School of the Americas, now rebranded and renamed as WHINSEC. The SOA, as it was formerly known.

BP: What goals was Washington pursuing through the coup?

Ramona Wadi: U.S. President Donald Trump’s statement following Morales’s resignation is a recapitulation of the usual imperialist rhetoric of purported democracy. Never mind the fact that a military coup, and one backed by foreign covert intervention at that, is an undemocratic process. It is interesting to note, however, that the statement is concerned with how the military coup in Bolivia plays out as regards the region. Trump has described Bolivia as “sending a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail.” However, unlike Venezuela, which has been replete with overt evidence of U.S. support for the opposition, in Bolivia this is less clear. It is likely, as Trump’s statement indicated, that the U.S. is aiming at the destabilisation of the region, as opposed to individual countries.

BP: Bolivia’s new interim government, which gained power following the coup, has announced plans to renew ties with Israel. What’s your take on this development?

Ramona Wadi: This change in diplomatic relations comes more than a decade after Morales severed ties with Israel over its aggression against Gaza in 2008-2009. Renewing ties with Israel was one of Añez’s first political announcements. For Israel, of course, which has been seeking to infiltrate Latin America in terms of widening its diplomatic support at an international level, Bolivia’s change in its foreign policy was welcomed as “contributing to Israel’s foreign relations and to its international status.” The reversal of Morales’s stance is not surprising. After all, one of the coup’s defining features is its violence against Bolivia’s indigenous populations, something which Israel shares and identifies with in terms of its colonial violence against the Palestinian population. When seen within the context of how the international community has provided Israel with perpetual impunity, the restoration of relations between Bolivia and Israel is yet another exercise that makes a mockery out of human rights. In such scenarios, the anti-colonial and anti-imperialist internationalism promoted and implemented by Fidel, Hugo Chavez and Morales is made even more relevant.

BP: Morales has described assistance from Israel as “foreign meddling”, saying Bolivia does not need external military forces in order to fix the ideological differences in Bolivia. What’s your take on the role Israel is playing with regard to Bolivia?

Ramona Wadi: Israel’s promotion of its security narrative has taken root worldwide, in particular after 9/11. As the West launched its own war on terror to embark upon foreign intervention in the Middle East, Israel exploited the politics to put itself on a par with Western countries allegedly preventing terrorism. Many Latin American states purchase military and surveillance equipment from Israel and this is mostly used to target indigenous populations and to criminalise their struggles – Chile is one prime example of such repression. According to Israeli media, Israel has been asked to help in training Bolivian forces in counter-terror operations. What is interesting in this request is that Bolivia is, like the U.S., already taking a regional approach in terms of destabilisation and the primary target of such action is Venezuela. As it did with other Latin American leaders whose diplomacy did not include a strong anti-colonial stance such as those of Fidel, Chavez and Morales, Israel will use this opportunity to leverage its position in the region. It is an absolute certainty that any Israeli involvement will not foster dialogue and peace in Bolivia. With the U.S. backing the coup and Israel infiltrating through military cooperation, Bolivia’s claims that such aid would contribute towards peace in the country is an aberration.

Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger specializing in the struggle for memory in Chile and Palestine.

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