The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, January 14, 2004
 

Bush Administration talking about military force to foil a Bolivian coup


This, according to Mr Google, is an English-language world exclusive!

(If ever there was a caveat lector, that, surely is one!)

According to La Nación of Buenos Aires (January 9 - that's two strikes against it already...)
Rumsfeld está preocupado por la posible repetición en los próximos meses de incidentes de magnitud importante en La Paz. Algunas áreas oficiales de la Argentina coinciden con ese diagnóstico. Y, aunque el Gobierno lo niegue públicamente, no sólo sus diplomáticos siguen la situación boliviana.

The military chiefs of the region's top nations are on the case:
Apenas días antes de la visita de [Argentinian Defence Minister José] Pampuro a los Estados Unidos, en Buenos Aires se desarrolló un encuentro cumbre -y poco habitual, por cierto- entre los jefes de los ejércitos de la Argentina (teniente general Roberto Bendini), Brasil (general Francisco de Albuquerque) y Chile (general Juan Cheyre Espinoza). El tema analizado fue la posibilidad de que una nueva crisis boliviana desborde por la región.

The hack, Daniel Gallo, spills:
Hombres que estuvieron muy cerca de esa reunión consignaron que los jefes militares harán un monitoreo periódico de los sucesos bolivianos. Entre los militares se perciben preocupación por las repercusiones -migratorias, en especial- que afectarían a los países limítrofes. Entre las contingencias que son motivo de análisis serios se apunta a que, llegado el caso, podría ser necesaria la intervención de una fuerza de estabilización regional.

Chilean tanks rolling into La Paz, Argentinian tanks into Santa Cruz: hey presto! suddenly, we have Bolivian national unity!

At least, now we know what Richard Perle was up to during his Lord Lucan spell: now the Middle East is well on the way, PNAC are opening up a Second Front...

That, at least, is what Sr Gallo says:
La posición norteamericana es contundente: Evo Morales no puede tomar la presidencia. Como dirigente cocalero, Morales se opone a la erradicación del cultivo de la coca, el principal interés estratégico de los Estados Unidos en Bolivia. Para Bush, una línea de pensamientos y negocios une a Morales, Chávez y las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC).

It seems that author of this cunning plan [1] was in the queue next to People's Friend Evo Morales when they were doling out the common sense. Aren't the gringos having some sort of election this year...

And Argentina and the US are not exactly best buds - as witness this latest spat over Cuba, sparked by comments from the ever-popular Roger Noriega.

And Gallo says:
La Casa Rosada se enteró de primera mano de ese pensamiento que empieza a tomar forma en Washington. Las palabras de Roger Noriega parecen ser la segunda advertencia pública en este caso para que la Argentina defina una posición en el juego de la alta política.

So we have General Bendini talking with his opposite numbers about military deployments for peacekeeping (or counter-insurgency?) operations, whilst his political masters are getting their arms twisted to fall into line with US policy.

I'm more than a little confused here. Surely, there's not a suggestion that the Argentinian military may have overstepped their bounds? Or is it that Argentinian President Néstor Kirchner [2] wants to mix and match: with an iron fist for the Bolivians and a warm embrace for Fidel?

And - to end where we started - is the Gallo story actually true, at all? My guess is that we may have another Con Coughlin in our midst. But, too little to go on either way so far.

  1. Strictly in the Baldrick sense.

  2. Who, my impression is, has modelled himself as something of a European social democrat.

MORE

I hadn't got the impression that there was the sort of attention being paid by USG to Bolivia that the Gallo article suggests. As I pointed out on January 11, the State Department press briefings hadn't mentioned the place this year to date.

But then there was Robert Novak's contribution (January 6), of which I was somewhat dismissive. Novak's story was of complacency within USG on Bolivia (in particular, on the narcotics side), except for certain dissident leakers who trusted Uncle Bob to pass on their concerns. He referred to a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) which said that aggressive coca eradication in Bolivia was a non-starter, whoever was in charge.

Perhaps that NIE caused Bush and Co to push Bolivia up USG's order of priorities.

Further speculation fruitless, I think.


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