Narconews: Bolivian Right Declares Virtual War
Bolivian Right Declares Virtual War
June 3, 2005
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A few hours ago, representatives of the right wing in Santa Cruz, Bolivia’s center of economic development and refuge of the multinational oil companies, decided not to accept President Carlos Mesa’s decree of yesterday. The people of Santa Cruz, in a meeting of the Pro-Santa Cruz Civic Committee, have decided to hold their own referendum on August 12, accusing the president of wanting to divide the country.
In the west, the people of El Alto have also given their answer. In the streets around El Alto’s Senkata gasoline plant, they have dug ditches to impede the transport of fuel into La Paz. The marches continued in the capital, diminished in terms of numbers, but giving a clear answer: nationalization, and a constitutional assembly.
With things like this, we are seeing the beginning of a virtual civil conflagration. But let’s go forward calmly:
This morning the meatpackers came down from El Alto (“Sánchez de Lozada is the butcher, comrade,” one of their leaders told me a long time ago). The residents of the Viacha region (both urban and rural Aymara) were also present, together with a thousand peasant farmers arriving from the Altiplano, Bolivia’s northern highlands.
To the rhythm of saya (Afro-Bolivian) music, the workers summed up their answer to the government’s actions: “Now, there will be civil war…” A group of youths carrying a pair of dolls representing Carlos Mesa and Congress President Hormando Vaca Díez; after marching for an hour through downtown La Paz, the dolls were burned.
At this point in the afternoon, after various groups (such as the El Alto neighborhood committees, and the Aymara peasant farmers) have rejected Mesa’s decree convoking a constitutional assembly for October, the farmers allied to Evo Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) are marching around the Plaza de los Héroes… and demanding that, seeing as how he will not listen to the people, President Carlos Mesa cut short his term and call general elections.
In Santa Cruz, the most extremist of the white right in Bolivia spent all morning meeting. At 1 pm, the Pro-Santa Cruz Civic Committee, in the voice of its president Germán Antelo (a known separatist and Nazi sympathizer), declared that the president had decided to oppose the country. And the decided to hold their own referendum on regional autonomy on August 12, when the first popular elections for prefects (governors) are already scheduled.
Antelo, an architect in his 40s, is, for example, the ideological leader of the group known as the Camba Nation Movement (the people of Santa Cruz are known as Cambas). This morning, the organization’s web page released a statement that appears to be a political rejection of the constitutional assembly. The statement’s intentions, however, are quite different.
In order that they attend the assembly, Antelo and his crew propose three conditions: the third is that the Cambas would go to the event to reform Bolvia “under an agreement where they recognize that Santa Cruz (and other nearby provinces) constitute an ‘Associate Free State’ with Bolivia, possessing full sovereignty.”
Because of this, among other reasons, the Assembly of the Guaraní People has decided to join the mobilizations for hydrocarbon nationalization and the constitutional assembly. The third-largest ethnic group in Bolivia, the Guaraní inhabit a large part of the department of Santa Cruz, where the largest number of gas and oil wells are. The indigenous of the south have thus made it their policy to occupy the wells and close the pipes that move the hydrocarbons.
Is this all clear, kind readers? The Cambas, under the pretext of democracy and sovereignty, are hoping to found their own State and, while they’re at it, hold onto a wealth that, althought they may not like it, is the property of every inhabitant of this land… and well, the indigenous and peasants of the Bolivian east do not seem to agree with the Santa Cruz bourgeoisie.
This afternoon, a group of people demonstrated before the doors of the Army General Staff headquarters in La Paz. They wanted the head of that institution, General Marcelo Antezana, to be in charge of a new government (the famous “civic-military” pact we mentioned a few days ago)… and rumors of a coup d’état have circulated once again, though all reports we have received have been very vague. The high command of the Air Force has already dismissed this notion… but the mobilization continues in these moments, and leaders from the Bolivian Workers’ Federation (COB), such as Pedro Cruz, are among the crowd.
Evo Morales, in a quick reaction to what is now occurring, has said that the social movements will reject any coup, no matter where in comes from. But the situation is again tense…
Meanwhile, the Catholic church accepted Carlos Mesa’s invitation from last night to assemble all the fighting sectors in a national dialog (with the government and the right included)… but the truth, kind readers, is that on this gentle austral autumn afternoon, a few demons seem to be running loose.
And this just in...
A few minutes ago, the leaders of the El Alto Federation of Neighborhood Committees (FEJUVE) finished a tour through the districts of El Alto. Every one of the eight districts has held assemblies this afternoon. But the most important one finished a few minutes ago in Disritct 8, where the Senkata gasoline plant, which provides fuel for La Paz and El Alto, is located.
The residents of that area, in the south of El Alto and a few kilometers from the entrance to La Paz, have decided to completely close all access to the Senkata plant and install a permanet guard to ensure that “as long as the hydrocarbons are not nationalized,” not one drop of gasoline makes it out. If necessary, District 4 (neighboring District 8 to the south) has resolved to mobilize and support such measures.
Abel Mamani, president of FEJUVE, came out to congratulate El Alto residents for their continued resistance. Aside from the gasoline plant, District 8 has shut down an international highway. Before retiring for the evening, Mamani confirmed that El Alto will once again take downtown La Paz next Monday…
As you seem, kind readers, this is a response as well to Carlos Mesa, to the Congress, and to the decree on the constitutional assembly… because until now, the principal popular demand, nationalization, is yet to be resolved…
Stay with us, our dear and weary readers, history keeps leaping forward in Bolivia…
From somewhere in a country called América,
Luis A. Gómez
The Narco News Bulletin