Double-Standard Alert: America Refuses To Extradite Bolivia’s Ex-President Facing Charges of Genocide

September 13th, 2012 by Andy in Human Rights (Torture & 'The War on Terror')

While throwing hissy fits over Julian Assange, and the perfectly legal acts of publishing and informing people about the nature and actions of their own government, the U.S. won’t allow for the extradition of a man wanted for crimes against humanity.

The hypocrisy doesn’t end there. This must-read piece on the history of American ties to former Bolivian leader, and accused mass murderer, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, goes deep into the realm of neoliberal politics and economics, and what I would consider their insidiously destructive influence on real democracy, justice, and human rights.

The role of important Democratic party operatives in this guy’s trajectory to power, and at the same time his being promoted and protected by the Bush administration, speaks volumes. It exposes the truth that when it comes to the underlying structures of power in America, particularly in regards to how they affect policy outside of its borders, any real line of distinction between the two major parties is not simply blurred, but has ceased to exist.

The former leader – a multimillionaire mining executive who, having been educated in the US, spoke Spanish with a heavy American accent – was a loyal partner in America’s drug war in the region. More importantly, the former leader himself was a vehement proponent and relentless crusader for free trade and free market policies favored by the US: policies that (with ) resulted in their impoverishment while enriching Bolivia’s small Europeanized elite.

It was Sánchez de Lozada’s forced exile that ultimately led to the 2006 election and 2009 landslide re-election of Morales, a figure the New York Times in October 2003 one “regarded by Washington as its main enemy”. Morales has been as vehement an opponent of globalization and free trade as Sánchez de Lozada was a proponent, and has constantly opposed US interference in his region and elsewhere.

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But there’s another important aspect of this case that distinguishes it from the standard immunity Washington gifts to itself and its friends. When he ran for president in 2002, Sánchez de Lozada was deeply unpopular among the vast majority of Bolivians as a result of his prior four-year term as president in the 1990s. To find a way to win despite this, he hired the consulting firm owned and operated by three of Washington’s most well-connected Democratic party operatives: James Carville, Stan Greenberg and Bob Shrum. He asked them to import the tactics of American politics into Bolivia to ensure his election victory.

As detailed by a New York Times review of a film about the Democratic operatives’ involvement in Bolivia’s election, their strategy was two-fold: first, destroy the reputations of his two opponents so as to depress the enthusiasm of Bolivia’s poor for either of them; and then mobilize Sánchez de Lozada’s base of elites to ensure he wins by a tiny margin. That strategy worked, as he was elected with a paltry 22.5% of the popular vote.

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At the very least, shielding a former leader deposed by his own people from standing trial for allegedly gunning down unarmed civilians takes on an even uglier image when that former leader had recently had leading US Democratic operatives on his payroll.

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