23 December 2005
Evo Morales faces his first problem: what happened to Bolivia's air defence missiles?
President-Elect Evo Morales of Bolivia met the outgoing President Eduardo Rodriguez to discuss the handover of power yesterday. However, the new President faces a problem with the USA even before taking office. Put simply, what happened to Bolivia's air-defence missiles?
The country had 28 or 30 Chinese built HN-SA hand-held anti-aircraft missiles that seem to have vanished from the military's arsenal. By all accounts they were stolen by the American Embassy with the conivence of Bolivian military officers, during May or June of this year. It is reported that they were taken aboard an unmarked C-130 transport aircraft and removed from the country.
When Evo Morales first made these allegations last month, the Bolivian army claimed that the missiles had been disposed of as part of an "annual disposal of obsolete equipment," and the army also claimed that the weapons were still in the country. However, army reports which were released this month show that the missiles, which cost Bolivia about £1,000,000, were well-maintained and had ten more years of service left in them.
At this point I fully expect some idiotic hand-shandyist for war to write in and tell me that 30 missiles will not protect anyone from the American armed forces. Don't bother, lads, because I know this. Besides, it's not the point.
The point is that the theft proves that the United States has pretty thoroughly infiltrated the Bolivian army. Should a future President Morales act against America's interests, and he has already said that he will, then the Americans can remove him as they have done so many before him. They would not need to send in the marines, they could set the scene as they did in Chile and then leave it to the locals to do their dirty work for them.
Ths is where thirty missiles will come in handy because when the Chilean traitors attacked La Moneda, the presidential palace on the 11th September 1973, all they faced was a small presidential guard armed only with light weapons. The air force could bomb the building at will, and President Salvadore Allende Gossens was forced to commit suicide rather than surrender.
Think what thirty anti-aircraft missiles could have achieved in Santiago that day! They could have bought time for the President to leave the palace and rally his forces elsewhere. A coup that succeeded would have become a civil war that the left could have won.
Just the act of buying time might have led to the collapse of the coup as it did in Venezuela in 2002. During those chaotic days, President Hugo Chavez Frias was able to write a letter which he gave to a private soldier. This man then smuggled it out and faxed copies around the country. Thousands of photocopies were made of it and they were then distributed in working class districts. It helpled galvanize the government's supporters and led to the collapse of the coup, but it would not have happened had Chavez Frias not managed to buy some time.
So, Morales has two problems. The first is that he cannot trust the army and the second is that the weaponry that might allow him precious time to avoid the antics of coup-mongers has been sold off to the people who will most likely be behind any coup. At the very least President Morales needs a guard that he can trust, and one that is armed with the best light weaponry that his country can afford. Let us hope that his first act will be to quietly send some trusted young men to Cuba for a spot of training.