Oh Denmark…really? YOU? You TOO? WTF is the matter with you people?
Bolivian president Evo Morales affirmed today that “conspiracies will not be pardoned”, in response to a request by the Danish NGO, IBIS, to reverse its expulsion from Bolivia.
“Conspiracies will not be pardoned, interference will not be pardoned,” said Morales in a press conference in La Paz, when asked about IBIS’s petition to remain in Bolivia.
Last December, the Bolivian government announced the expulsion of the NGO, accusing it of political meddling, of financing the division of indigenous organizations, and of expressed in documents “intolerable” criticisms of its relationship with the native peoples.
Bolivian authorities have given IBIS until the end of March to wrap up all their programs.
The secretary-general of IBIS, Vagn Berthelsen, was in Bolivia last week to meet with the authorities and engage in dialogue about the government’s decision, according to a communiqué published on the NGO’s website.
The same source indicated that before leaving, Vagn Berthelsen expressed his satisfaction with the “direct dialogue” he had with various ministers, including the Minister of the Presidency, Juan Ramón Quintana, which allowed him “to understand with greater precesion what had occurred and what happened with intention, and what happened without intention”.
“I must admit that we, IBIS, have committed errors, and I have asked for forgiveness, in meetings and in writing, for these acts, which are not in line with the policy of our work in Bolivia. It also appears that there are some misunderstandings which we are trying to clear up”, said Berthelsen, according to the communiqué.
The functionary expressed his confidence that the meeting with Quintana had “prepared the way for a deeper dialogue on the decision concerning IBIS”.
“We have worked in Bolivia for 30 years and believe that our programs are benefiting many Bolivians…I am aware that the government’s decision will not change easily, but I still hope that we have taken the first steps to find a way to go on”, Berthelsen added.
In today’s press conference, Morales stated that the ambassador for Denmark, Ole Thonke, as well as the IBIS representative who had arrived in Bolivia were “surprised” at “how they handled their money” — meaning the representatives of the NGO in Bolivia.
However, he ratified that “conspiracy and interference are unpardonable”.
IBIS’s work in Bolivia consists of “projects of promotion of education for the indigenous peoples, strengthening of governability, intercultural democracy, programs on climate change and health”, among others.
IBIS also aided in the opening of the Gustu restaurant in La Paz, which proposed the beginning of a Bolivian “gastronomic revolution”, along with the Danish chef Claus Meyer, co-owner of the Noma restaurant of Copenhagen.
No, that rotten smell isn’t coming from the fish, or from the corpse of Prince Hamlet’s murdered father. It’s coming from what astute LatAm-watchers have begun to recognize as The Usual Suspects…namely, foreign NGOs purporting to “help” the poor indigenous people of Bolivia. Or, in this case, apparently to foment unrest among them by turning them against Bolivia’s first indigenous elected president. Or trying to.
It’s not exactly a new strategy; Philip Agee noted that the CIA did it in Ecuador for years using various “aid” groups as fronts, USAID most prominently among them. USAID has been kicked out of Bolivia, along with an ambassador who got caught on camera holding clandestine meetings with prominent putschist opposition leaders. So I guess it stands to reason that any corruption of local leaders must now come from someplace else.
And in this case, the corruption appears to have come from an NGO that for 30-odd years has been operating apparently without problems in Bolivia. A Danish NGO, of all things. The Danes aren’t exactly leading lights on the imperialism scene these days; haven’t been for centuries, in fact. Hence the WTF.
Did USAID or the CIA or someone with ties to them infiltrate IBIS? Or has IBIS always been a meddler, and has it only come out recently, under the ever-watchful eyes of Evo and his government, who have been the targets of numerous foreign-sponsored coup attempts and thus have good reason to be constantly on the alert?
I don’t know. I’m not party to IBIS’s internal workings, and indeed only learned about their existence today. But it’s not improbable that someone offered them a lot of money to “subtly” interfere with indigenous politics in Bolivia, is it? If the NGO relies on donations to keep it going, some wealthy foreign “philanthropist”, perhaps from Gringolandia, could easily have taken an interest in it on behalf of a third party more wealthy and powerful still. And along with the cash, that unknown “benefactor” may have slipped them a list of stipulations and conditions to keep the money flowing. This is what I suspect might have happened.
I’ll be watching this case with interest to see what else shakes out. I have a hunch that there are quite a few more smelly herrings in the barrel there, and not only in Denmark.