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Bolivia's President Evo Morales gives a speech during a meeting with

Bolivian President Evo Morales will file a lawsuit against the US government for crimes against humanity. He has decried the US for its intimidation tactics and fear-mongering after the Venezuelan presidential jet was blocked from entering US airspace.

“I would like to announce that we are preparing a lawsuit against Barack Obama to condemn him for crimes against humanity,” said President Morales at a press conference in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz. He branded the US president as a “criminal” who violates international law.

In solidarity with Venezuela, Bolivia will begin preparing a lawsuit against the US head of state to be taken to the international court. Furthermore, Morales has called an emergency meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to discuss what has been condemned by Venezuela as “an act of intimidation by North American imperialism.”

The Bolivian president has suggested that the members of CELAC withdraw their ambassadors from the US to send a message to the Obama Administration. As an additional measure he will call on the member nations of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas to boycott the next meeting of the UN. Members of the Alliance include Antigua and Barbuda, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Saint Lucia.

“The US cannot be allowed to continue with its policy of intimidation and blockading presidential flights,”
stressed Morales.

The Venezuelan government announced on Thursday that President Nicolas Maduro’s plane had been denied entry into Puerto Rican (US) airspace.

“We have received the information from American officials that we have been denied travel over its airspace,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said, speaking to reporters during an official meeting with his South African counterpart. Jaua decried the move “as yet another act of aggression on the part of North American imperialism against the government of the Bolivarian Republic.”

President Maduro was due to arrive in Beijing this weekend for bilateral talks with the Chinese government. Jaua was adamant that the Venezuelan leader would reach his destination, regardless of any perceived interference.

The US government has not yet made any statement regarding the closing of its airspace to the Venezuelan presidential plane. Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the US.

Relations on the rocks

Washington’s relations with Latin America have deteriorated since the beginning of the year following the aerial blockade that forced Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane to land in Austria in July. Several EU countries closed their airspace to the presidential jet because of suspicions that former CIA employee Edward Snowden – wanted in the US on espionage charges – was on board. Bolivia alleged that the US was behind the aerial blockade.

In response to the incident, Latin American leaders joined together in condemnation of what they described as “neo-colonial intimidation.”

Later in the year, the revelations on the US’ global spy network released by Edward Snowden did little to improve relations. Leaked wires revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) had monitored the private communications of both the Brazilian and Mexican presidents.

The Brazilian government denounced the NSA surveillance as “impermissible and unacceptable,” and a violation of Brazilian sovereignty. As a result of US spying Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has postponed a state visit to Washington in October.

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mcdonalds2Bolivia became the first McDonald’s-free Latin American nation, after struggling for more than a decade to keep their numbers out of ‘the red.’

And that fact is still making news.

After 14 years in the nation and despite many campaigns and promos McDonald’s was forced to close in 2002, its 8 Bolivian restaurants in the major cities of La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

McDonald’s served its last hamburgers in Bolivia, after announcing a global restructuring plan in which it would close its doors in seven other countries with poor profit margins.

The failure of McDonald’s in Bolivia had such a deep impact that a documentary titled “Por que quebro McDonald’s en Bolivia” or “Why did McDonald’s Bolivia go Bankrupt,” trying to explain why did Bolivians never crossed-over from their empanadas to Big Macs.

The documentary includes interviews with cooks, sociologists, nutritionists and educators who all seem to agree, Bolivians are not against hamburgers per sé, just against ‘fast food,’ a concept widely unaccepted in the Bolivian community.

The story has also attracted world wide attention toward fast foods in Latin America. El Polvorin blog noted:

Fast-food represents the complete opposite of what Bolivians consider a meal should be. To be a good meal, food has to have be prepared with love, dedication, certain hygiene standards and proper cook time.”

Source: Hispanically Speaking News

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evo-flagBolivia has “concrete evidence” that the US is plotting to destabilize the Latin American nation, Minister Juan Ramon Quintana said. Proof of US “harassment” of the Bolivian government will be handed over to President Obama, he added.

The Bolivian government is “scrupulously following” US activity in Bolivia, Minister for the Bolivian Presidency Quintana said in a press conference

“There is so much evidence to hand over to the President of the USA to say to him: Stop harassing the Bolivian government, stop politically cornering and ambushing us! Quintana stressed. He added that investigations into drug-trafficking and human rights abuses would reveal a “permanent battle” waged by the US to impede progress in Bolivia.

“In the offensive against the government there are no visible subjects… What we’re seeing are the political machinations of the US Embassy,” which seeks to damage the image of the Bolivian government, Quintana said.

The country’s US ambassador was ejected in 2008 after being accused of plotting against the Bolivian government by President Evo Morales. The US quickly followed suit, removing its Bolivian ambassador.

A charge d’affaires now heads the American Embassy in La Paz; both nations signed a deal in 2011 that would pave the way for the reinstatement of the ambassadors. However, diplomatic relations between the two countries have yet to be normalized.

Larry Mermmot, the US diplomatic representative in La Paz, said that he was confident that 2013 would see the ambassadors restored in both countries.

A significant bone of contention in these tensions is drug-trafficking in Bolivia. A damning report released by the American government last year ranking Bolivia, along with Venezuela and Burma, as “failing demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements.”

President Morales denied the findings, accusing the US of hypocrisy and calling the illicit drugs trade with Latin America the US’ “best business.”

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A thorn in the US’ side

Bolivia has been a thorn in the US’ side because of its anti-neoliberal and anti-imperialist policies, pioneered by President Evo Morales; the US also could not permit challenges to its policies in the heart of Latin America, Minister Quintana said in an interview with state radio station El Pueblo.

“What we have been fighting since 2006 and what we will continue to fight is a war against Bolivian progress,” he said, adding that the political objective of the US was to dismantle the “process of rebellion” by any means necessary.

Bolivia is currently led by Evo Morales, the country’s first indigenous leader, who is a close ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa. The three leaders are known for their anti-American rhetoric, and have often been critical of what they criticize as the US overstepping its authority in Latin America.

Ecuadorian President Correa spoke out over the weekend, voicing concerns of a possible CIA plot to remove him in the run-up to governmental elections in February. He cited a report written by a Chilean journalist, which described an alleged US plot to destabilize the region.

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Bolivia ruled out paying compensation to South American Silver (SAS) on Wednesday, two months after its leftist government nationalized a mine operated by the Canadian firm.

“The nation has no financial obligation to South American Silver,” Mining Minister Mario Virreira told reporters.

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales expropriated the silver and indium mine managed by a local unit of SAS on Aug. 2, in a move strongly criticized by the Canadian government and foreign investors. […]

Since Mr. Morales came to power in 2006, Bolivia has moved to nationalize firms deemed strategic, and in June he raised the possibility of making all natural resource-related industries property of the state.

The decision to expropriate the Malku Khota mine came after weeks of protests at the site by indigenous leaders calling on La Paz to take it over.

The Malku Khota project boasts one of the world’s largest untapped resources of silver and indium, a rare metal used in flat-screen LCD televisions.

South American Silver had planned to invest $50-million by 2014 in the mine, which also explores deposits of gallium, a mineral used in microelectronics.

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Bolivia’s armed forces have been given a new job not usually awarded to the military.

President Evo Morales has ordered them to add protecting the Amazon’s pink dolphin to their list of duties. Morales signed a new law protecting the animals, the country’s only freshwater mammal, BBC News reports.

The legislation forbids catching them and declares the dolphin a national treasure, BBC News said. Its official name is Inia boliviensis, a subspecies of the pink river dolphins found elsewhere in South America, which is Inia geoffrensis.

The odd-looking dolphins are known for their chubby cheeks, the WDCS said. They tend to swim upside-down, perhaps because the cheeks obstruct their vision. They swim slowly and travel in pairs or alone, except in the dry season, when they cluster into groups of 10 or 15.

The army’s might can only go so far in protecting the species, as the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) points out. The main threat against them besides overfishing is environmental: contamination from mercury used in mining gold, and habitat destruction via erosion in the Amazon, the WDCS said on its website.

“We congratulate President Morales on taking these steps,” said WDCS lead river dolphin conservationist Alison Wood in a statement. “He is right to be proud of Bolivia’s very own precious river dolphin and be concerned about its future.”

Wood went on to say that the dolphins face other threats as well, and urged the Bolivian government to tackle issues such as dam construction in northern Bolivia.

Here’s more from the WDCS on Inia boliviensis and Inia geoffrensis

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In a symbolic rejection of US capitalism, Bolivia announced it will expel the Coca-Cola Company from the country at the end of the Mayan calendar. This will mark the end of capitalism and usher in a new era of equality, the Bolivian govt says.

“December 21 of 2012 will be the end of egoism and division. December 21 should be the end of Coca-Cola,” Bolivian foreign minister David Choquehuanca decreed, with bombast worthy of a viral marketing campaign.

The coming ‘end’ of the Mayan lunar calendar on December 21 of this year has sparked widespread doomsaying of an impending apocalypse. But Choquehuanca argued differently, claiming it will be the end of days for capitalism, not the planet.

“The planets will align for the first time in 26,000 years and this is the end of capitalism and the beginning of communitarianism,”
said Choquehuanca as quoted by Venezuelan newspaper El Periodiquito.

The minister encouraged the people of Bolivia to drink Mocochinche, a peach-flavored soft drink, as an alternative to Coca-Cola. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez followed suit, encouraging his country to ditch the American beverage for fruit juice produced in Venezuela.

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McFailure

Last year, Bolivia became the second Latin American country not to have a single McDonald’s. The fast food giant finally gave up on Bolivia after being unable to turn a profit in the country for over a decade.

Following this failure, the monolithic multinational released a documentary titled ‘Why McDonald’s failed in Bolivia.’ Referencing surveys, sociologists, nutritionists and historians, the company came to the conclusion it was not their food that was the issue, but a culturally driven boycott.

Bolivian President Evo Morales has a reputation for controversial policies similar to the Coca-Cola ban. Morales pledged last month to legalize the consumption of coca leaves, one of the main ingredients of cocaine.

“Neither the US nor capitalist countries have a good reason to maintain the ban on coca leaf consumption,”
said Morales.

The coca leaf was declared an illegal narcotic by the UN in 1961, along with cocaine, opium and morphine. The consumption of coca leaves is a centuries-old tradition in Bolivia, strongly rooted in the beliefs of various indigenous groups.

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