Third Party & Independents Archives

Hazards of Travel

While I was sitting at a bar in Ecuador a few weeks ago, someone told me some American CIA officers were arrested in Bolivia. Of course, I had to check it out.

When I read the account in the paper, it seemed to me that the only evidence being put forward was past military experience. I thought, "Oh good, we don't seem to be doing anything covert this time" and I let my thoughts go back to my hectic life. Now that I'm caught up, my thoughts keep returning to this. I looked it up and found our denial and additional detail but I'm still a bit concerned.

More and more countries seem to be following the example of Hugo Chavez and pointing the finger at us to boost their popularity with their impoverished countrymen. With our history of "adventures", overbearing corporate interests and secrecy, it's easy for them to do.

I strongly believe that one of the problems with our populace is the insulation and narrow perspective that comes from the lack of international travel. I'm worried that as our secrecy grows and it becomes harder to believe us at our word, more countries will become difficult for us.

Although I believe these particular men are probably innocent, does that mean we don't have CIA in Bolivia? They are moving towards the nationalization of their gas fields... maybe that matters? maybe not?
Also, the newspaper articles I read didn't confirm any actual arrests, but if there are, it may not matter what the truth is for that poor traveler...

I just wonder if it's all worth it. We have the power and influence of an empire, but is that right? And are we really safer?


Posted by Christine at July 5, 2006 8:19 PM
Comment #165084

The Bolivian government is being stupid. If they nationalize gas fields they will be following the traditional caudillo route that has kept Latin Americans poor for so long. When everything is FUBAR, they will blame us and start all over. In this particular case, the people most troubled will be the Brazilians, who have invested big money in Bolivia. Ironically, Brazil is run by a leftist, but one who has enough experience to not behave like Morales.

I feel sorry for the people of Boliva. They elected an idiot.

BTW - Christine, I am sorry to have temporarily ruined your post, as the next dozen posts will be saying how Bush is a bigger idiot than Morales, but they will eventually get back to topic.

Posted by: Jack at July 5, 2006 9:41 PM
Comment #165102

There is really no way to win this. You cannot expect the CIA to divulge its plans for public approval. Of course, that pretty much destroys any possibility of accountability. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a viable solution.

It is not a perfect world. We need to get used to that.

Posted by: Zeek at July 5, 2006 10:40 PM
Comment #165105

This issue is larger than Bush, but I don’t think we can write it off as stupidity.
Whether it’s the sabotage that’s happening in Nigeria or the elections of crazy populists, these people see that their land has a valuable resource and they are not benefiting from it.
Can’t you see how that would make people want to take action?


Posted by: Christine at July 5, 2006 10:43 PM
Comment #165118

I can see why they want to take action. But I can also see that they do not know what they are doing. Bolivian gas is being developed with Brazilian money and expertise. Subtract that and you have no future. Bolivians don’t have the capacity to do it,

There is no such thing as a “natural resouce”. Nothing is a resource until it is developed. Until then, it is only potential. That is the added value. Bolivians are taking the resources back to the potential stage.

IF they allow investment and learn, they can also take part. If not, they are out of luck.

The U.S. was (still is) a recipient of foriegn investment. Smart people take that investment and learn the methods. Unfortunatley, other people take the emotionally easy way to stealing the investments in the name of justice. They get the factories and the mines, but not the markets or the management talents. It is the recipe for poverty. Poor Bolivians. Smart investors will give them nothing for decades. I wouldn’t.

Wanting action w/o understanding what you are doing keeps you poor.

Posted by: Jack at July 5, 2006 11:37 PM
Comment #165124

Jack, sorry, it appears to me your words ring hollow with bias. China is one of the fastest growing economy in the world. It is communist and socialist with some capitalism and free enterprise growing in the mix.

China is living proof nationalization can work economically under the right set of conditions. Bolivia simply had to get a handle on its corruption of government by corporations (something we here need to address post haste as well). This may be the way to do that. Then again, it could exacerbate the corruption, quite easily. A lot will depend on the leadership.

China has a huge and partially crippling corruption in industry occuring as well. They are as we speak, coming down progressively harder and harder on that corruption and human rights organizations aren’t going to like it. But, one cannot argue that nationalization of raw resources is necessarily an evil which will do greater harm than good. China has proven that is not always the case, economically speaking.

We nationalized vast tracts of land and seacoast, and it hasn’t harmed our nation, though ANWR is still a hot potato. Our ranchers love the concept of BLM land. They just balk now because they have to pay a pittance for its use.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 6, 2006 12:12 AM
Comment #165125

Jack, come to think of it, if the US had nationalized oil, we likely would not be in the defict / energy shortage we find ourselves in today.

Nationalized oil, coal and electricity can be made available to retailers at cost. Imagine the boon for our economy right now if that were the case. We could probably rival China’s economic growth with at cost wholesale energy.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 6, 2006 12:15 AM
Comment #165139

It was the first salvo of the oil companies to say that Morales couldn’t nationalize the Gas fields. He has. The world hasn’t collapsed, the oil companies haven’t run.

Maybe Morales isn’t so stupid.

Maybe he knows how to renegotiate a bad contract. Maybe the knee jerk right should be quiet and watch before jumping to conclusions. I haven’t seen Venezeula sink into the dust yet.

Posted by: gergle at July 6, 2006 1:49 AM
Comment #165164

I’m realistic enough to understand what you’re saying - some secrecy can be necessary.
At the same time, I wish we could trust our leaders to make these decisions in our best interest. Maybe it should be like my company’s email policy - “Would you be embarrassed by this email if it was posted in the newspaper? If so, it’s probably not appropriate.”
In their case, they can examine their motives and see if they would stand up in the light of day.
Also, when is it right to bypass the mechanisms of oversight? I say never.
Whether we’re doing anything covert in Bolivia or not - probably not, some Special Ops are already there with permission - our torture policy and secret monitoring programs are hurting us. We look guilty even when we’re not.


Posted by: Christine at July 6, 2006 8:24 AM
Comment #165217

Christine, the difference in your analogy is that your company is there and able to fire you, if you do something wrong. We are not there every day threatening to fire the president if he makes an ethically questionable decision. Hence, the threat of reprimand does not exist and our system of checks and balances is all but impotent in this case.

To clarify, I am not saying there is no problem, but I do not see a likely solution.

Posted by: Zeek at July 6, 2006 12:25 PM
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