Shamelessness, thy name is Goni!

The arrogance of some people, even after they’ve been given a well-deserved boot out of office, never ceases to astound me. Take, for example (PLEASE!) this recent bit of boo-hoo-poor-me from one Gonzalo Sanchez de Losada, formerly president of Bolivia:

Bolivian prosecutors have brought formal charges of genocide against the country’s exiled former president, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada.

The move came on the fourth anniversary of Mr Sanchez de Lozada’s resignation following violent street protests at plans to export natural gas.

The charges, denied by Mr Sanchez de Lozada, relate to the deaths of at least 60 people killed in the unrest.

The Bolivian government is seeking his extradition from the United States.

The Bolivian attorney general, Mario Uribe, presented nine charges, including genocide, against Mr Sanchez de Lozada to the Supreme Court in Sucre.

Eight members of his government and five high-ranking military chiefs were also charged with a range of crimes, including murder and torture.

Mr Sanchez de Lozada has denied allowing security forces to use violence against demonstrators.

His lawyer in the US, Howard Gutman, told the Spanish news agency Efe that the charges were due to “the incessant political campaign to punish the political rivals” of Bolivia’s current leader, Evo Morales.

Now, that is just such a typical bit of shuck-and-jive right there. “I wasn’t an evil dictator, but this new guy is–because he’s got it in for me!”

What a masterstroke! Deflect attention from your own shortcomings and criminal tendencies by projecting them onto someone who doesn’t have them. Brilliant!

Only problem is, we’ve heard this refrain from Goni before. Back in 2003, when he was turfed out on a most ignominious note, he blamed “a conspiracy of sedition by armed groups, ‘narco-syndicalist’ groups, terrorist groups and cartels who created a confrontational situation, leaving me no way out but to resign.”

What actually happened? Well, something whose unpopularity was a foregone (or fore-Goni?) conclusion.

Mr Sanchez de Lozada fled to the US after the protests brought down his government in October 2003.

The crisis had grown as more and more people took to the streets to demonstrate against his free market policies, including plans to export natural gas.

Troops were deployed to help combat the growing civil unrest, including strikes and road blockades, and dozens were killed in several weeks of violence.

Goni, as the US-educated president was often called, came to power in August 2002 with just 22.5% of the vote, and remained deeply unpopular.

The man who came a surprise second in that election, Evo Morales, played a central role in the demonstrations demanding the nationalisation of the energy sector.

Mr Morales was elected president in December 2005.

We can now see why Goni’s so eager to lash back at Evo. The humble coca farmer and trade unionist (so that’s what Goni meant by “narco-syndicalist”!)) was an important leader in the protests against Goni’s wholesale sell-off of the Bolivian water utilities, which resulted in monstrous water rate hikes…and brutal repression. It was suddenly forbidden to collect rainwater; every drop had to be paid for, and foreign conglomerates stood to make out like bandits–along with the paid-off local bottom feeder (ahem, that would be Goni.)

Anyone who stood up to that intolerable situation was bound to become a hero. Evo was probably the biggest single thorn in Goni’s side, since he organized blockades at Cochabamba and at El Alto, near La Paz. Those were the protests that ultimately brought Goni down and kicked Bechtel out of Bolivia.

But Evo didn’t remain just another protest organizer; he was subsequently elected to the Bolivian congress, and in December 2005, Evo became president–a very popular president. Unlike Goni, who had less than a quarter of the popular vote, Evo had more than half.

That’s why Goni’s latest round of false accusations ring so hysterically funny now. Evo still enjoys great approval ratings, so he doesn’t have to punish his rivals with anything; they are punishing themselves. Their own unpopularity is self-explanatory–they are still trying to salvage a system that is guaranteed to fail, and has been proven to do so many times already. Goni’s unpopularity, in particular, comes as no surprise–since he had to punish his opposition with blasts of machine-gun fire.

Funny how, ever since Evo’s been in office, none of that has happened. But that won’t stop sinverguenzas like Goni, who seems to be taking his cues from the failed old guard of Venezuela, from claiming it is so. Or, it seems, from starting riots for no good reason–other than to get rid of “that shitty Indian” who just so happens to be turning things around big-time.

And Evo seems likely to go on doing so, in what must truly be a welcome departure for notoriously unstable Bolivia. He’s already pulled Bolivia out of the School of the Americas, in a welcome step for human rights; another will be the trial of Goni, a known human rights abuser. It can’t come any too soon; the age of neoliberalism is over, and the age of shamelessness is historically destined to follow it into the grave.

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