Narconews: A Suspenseful Wednesday in Bolivia
A Suspenseful Wednesday in Bolivia
June 1, 2005
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La Paz was paralyzed again this morning, though only partially. The merchants of El Alto, the rural schoolteachers and the urban schoolteachers, and, once again, the rural Aymara leadership, have returned to the streets of downtown La Paz.
There were a few incidents, but none to get too upset about… it seems the social movements – faced with Senator Hormando Vaca Diez's blackmail in saying that there were not guarantees of a congressional session – have left the politicians alone for the moment, to see what they'll do.
An important detail: the 1st regiment of the National Police has decided, by consensus, not to go out to repress the people… and have been internally persecuted by the government.
This afternoon, the National Congress finally prepared to meet and discuss the two questions that have caused so much tension in recent days: the constitutional assembly and the referendum on regional autonomy.
Again, again, they descended and filled the center of La Paz. Though the marches' intensity was lower and there were practically no confrontations, the Bolivian social movements have partially paralyzed the capital. There were thousands of rural teachers, thousands of urban ones, and thousands more from the federations of small merchants from El Alto… they marched, protested and made it clear that they would return again and again to keep demanding hydrocarbon nationalization.
The Aymara peasant farmers were also present. There was an internal conflict, between the Omasuyos province (where Achacachi, the capital city of the Aymara world, is located) and the leader of the department (departments are equivalent to states or prefectures, and contain several provinces), Gualberto Choque. The people of Omasuyos, the most militant of the rural Aymara, demanded that Choque finally lead a more radical mobilization, and actually beat him for a while to teach him a lesson. The Omasuyos contingent then marched through the city (up to the doors of the gringo embassy itself) and shouted what was more of a warning than a slogan to the people of La Paz: "We will sack this city tomorrow if there is no solution."
This must be taken seriously, kind readers. The legendary Q'alachaca Indigenous Headquarters is located in Omasuyos, where the Aymara receive military training and plan their mobilizations… the Aymara method of warfare is nothing new, but has existed for millennia.
This morning, while the marchers did what they've done every day for more than a week, the local media began to receive reports of a mutiny within the police. Officials speaking for the administration of President Carlos Mesa denied the information: there had merely been an attempt within Regiment No. 1.
A few minutes ago, however, one of the officers from that regiment called Radio Erbol and clarified the issue: the police from that regiment had decided, by consensus, to stop going into the streets "to gas our women and our own children." The officer, who complained of having been badly treated by National Police intelligence personnel, demanded along with a group of his fellow officers "total nationalization of the hydrocarbons."
And according to statements from Senator Hormando Vaca Diez, this evening the long-awaited session of congress will happen, in order to debate the two hot items shaking the country and the congressmen: the constitutional assembly and the referendum on autonomy for the departments. This reporter is heading over there in a few moments… don't wander off and miss what's coming in the next few hours.
From somewhere in a country called América,
Luis A. Gómez
The Narco News Bulletin