This is the second part of the talk I prepared. I didn’t give it because of time constraints, but here it is if you’d like to read it:
I was also ignorant of a second element of the developing world, and that is the degree to which my country is able to dictate and control the rest of the world, mostly through economic manipulation. I have three short stories, all from Bolivia:
One friar told me that one time while he was working at our NGO at the United Nations ? Franciscans International ? a minor point came up in the Economic Social Council. It touched on the foreign policy of the US, but was not in the Security Council or the General Assembly. When the matter came up to vote, the Bolivian ambassador voted one way and the US ambassador voted the other way. This friar’s office and the office of the Bolivian delegation to the UN both were in the same building, so after lunch the friar went to congratulate the Bolivian ambassador on his vote.
?He?s not here,? said the secretary.
?Oh. When will he get back?? the friar asked.
?No. He?s gone. He?s been fired,? the secretary responded.
After the vote the US ambassador went back to his office and called the Bolivian president to complain about the vote. The president called the ambassador and fired him! Who controlled that country?s vote at the UN?
In Bolivia most people know the name of the US ambassador. He is a very important man for the country. The current ambassador is called David Greenlee, and he?s on the TV news almost every night.
On one of my visits to Bolivia there was an article in the newspaper. The US ambassador had let it be know that he did not have full confidence that one of the government ministers was fully committed to the fight against drugs. There was no official statement from the embassy. The ambassador simply let it be known that the US did not have full trust in this minister. The minister had to resign, and did resign. Another minister was appointed to head the ministry, one that was more acceptable to the US ambassador. Now who is in control of the government there?
Last October when I was in La Paz the people rose up and threw out the sitting president. A significant number of protesters were coca farmers protesting the coca eradication program imposed by the US. The vice-president became president and was faced with a huge problem. The people were demanding that they be allowed to grow coca, but the US was insisting that they not be allowed to do so. He also faced a money shortage and didn?t have the cash to make the government payroll. He needed something like nine million dollars to make the payroll. If the US approved of his policies they would loan him the money and he would continue as president. If they didn?t approve then they would withhold the funds and the people expecting to be paid would rise up and throw him out too. He had no choice. The anti-coca laws remain on the books.
During this uprising last October I was living in an old, colonial convent right on the edge of the major square of the city. Most of the worst protests happened on the plaza right below our windows. Since we were more or less trapped in the convent by the protests the other friars and I would gather to watch the protesters, the police with their tear gas, and so forth. During one of these days one of the other friars turned to me and said, ?You know, the people are protesting against the president but they are really protesting against the north? (meaning the US, the IMF, etc.). It is the north that controls this place. It is the north that dictates what the laws are and who the ministers are. The people are suffering because of these laws and policies, and yet they have not have a voice in them. This is called a democracy, but they cannot determine very basic elements of their own government. They rise up against the man they can see, but what they really protest against is that which has been imposed on them by the north.