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Tanks And Troops Attack Bolivian Workers

TANKS AND TROOPS ATTACK BOLIVIAN WORKERS (July 7, 2001)

Juventudes Libertarias (Anarchist Youth), Bolivia

The Bolivian workers are continuing their battle against the government without letup. The regime is trying desperately to defuse the conflicts by giving in to the demands of various groups one at a time. It is expecting to keep its essential policies in effect. The exploited have no confidence in the government's promises or in the church's call to the producing population for social peace.

Acquired experience and ingrained awareness have prepared the workers to be more and more determined to fight every aspect of bourgeois capitalist imperialist policy and ready to seek a revolutionary solution to their problems.

Direct action is the order of the day in Bolivia, but the media remain ignorant and silent about the events. This contrasts with the solidarity being shown by others in struggle. On July 11 the CNT in Madrid will protest at the Bolivian embassy, as will the Fédération Anarchiste Française (French Anarchist Federation) and Alternative Libertaire (Anarchist Alternative) in Paris.

HIGHWAY BLOCKADES: TROOPS AND TANKS POSITIONED ON THE HIGHWAY FROM LA PAZ TO THE ALTIPLANO REGION

Bolivian Army tanks have been positioned along the highways connecting La Paz and the Altiplano. Yesterday they entered the village of Achacachi. When Aymará farmers went into army headquarters they found troops on alert and waiting for orders to attack. During September, 2000, the military carried out a massacre of villagers in the same place.

In these arid regions there has been an atmosphere of open war for the past two weeks, with Aymara farmers blocking roads and basically demanding land and an end to neoliberalism. A week ago the army occupied the region and murdered two farmers in the process.

An emergency assembly of all Bolivian farmers has been called for July 9, at which an analysis will be made of the effectiveness of the partial road blockages up to now and decisions made about how to move forward.

In Huarina one woman farmer explained that there is a state of tension in the area because soldiers are constantly watching the roads, demanding identification papers and recording information about people walking along the roads, or even crossing them. In Achacachi the farmers have indicated that they are ready to continue the blockades for 90 days. Until now there have been no shortages because food supplies were arranged for before the blockades began.

The government claims to want dialog, but the farmers denounce this as phony. They point to the many arrests, and a massive presence of assault vehicles, tanks and troops armed with battle weapons.

"We will develop a new strategy that will prevent a military reaction. We will create new ways to struggle and be heard," said Filipe Quispe, general secretary of the farmers' confederation. "We are just watching. The soldiers have been pointing their machine guns at the farmers. They took over the schools in Huarina and Guaqui and arrested the leaders," he added. The army is expecting orders to arrest all union leaders.

ARMED MINERS OCCUPY MINES

More than a hundred infuriated sulfur miners armed with dynamite entered the "TH-1" mine, located near the Bolivian town of "Abaroa," five kilometers from the Chilean border. One of the protesters, 25-year-old Misael Mamani Choque, lost his right arm when he moved a load of dynamite.

There have been many injuries and the police have called for reinforcements. We don't have any more information about this, but, the police make it appear as a conflict between individuals.

PRISONERS ARE FREED WHILE REPRESSION IS PREPARED

On Monday, July 2, hundreds of small debtors occupied a bank building armed with dynamite, gasoline and Molotovs, and detained 60 bureaucrats. They called for total cancellation of their debts and accused the bank of usury. The participation of anarchist feminists was essential to the development of these events. Negotiations led to release of the people held, and protesters left the building. This resulted in cancellation of agreements the government made which enabled it to take in around 70 activists. Apparently the street demonstrations led to this. But the government is preparing a legal gimmick to imprison more activists.

The agreement reached includes sanctions against institutions that commit abuses against small borrowers, reconciliation of accounts, investigation of cases of usury, recognition of the anarchists as facilitators in the negotiations, government payments to the banks for suspension of legal proceedings, etc.

Six thousand borrowers have been protesting in La Paz for three months, demanding cancellation of their debts, which range on average from one hundred to five thousand dollars each. The drought, the enormous economic crisis, and the obvious usury have combined to make these debts unpayable.

The people who belong to the small debtors' movement are mainly poor workers and farmers. They represent more than 12,000 families, the victims of the banks' usury. They have paid principal and interest on their loans, but now they are being required to pay interest on their interest, plain and simple.

Nearly fifty heads of families, and some whole families, have committed suicide because they could not find any way to solve their problems with the banks.

The bank plans to go back on its agreements once the pressure has been reduced and the government puts a few hundred in jail. The debtors have called for resistance, and hundreds have taken refuge in the University of La Paz. They refuse to leave because they fear repression.

PRISONERS LOCK THEMSELVES DOWN AND REFUSE FOOD AND WATER

Around four thousand prisoners have been on hunger strike for six days. A group of women, three of them with their children, have crucified themselves on a roof, and others are refusing food and water.

The state has been prosecuting citizens, most of them poor, locking them up for years, with the presumption of guilt. It has allowed corruption to rule in the justice system, turned the country's prisons into disastrous places where human and constitutional rights are trampled on a daily basis. The draconian anti-drug laws have imprisoned thousands who, out of desperation due to the economic crisis, have been forced to work as drug transporters. The government locks them up, while it honors the mafia chieftains.

The men and women prisoners are demanding pardons, better living conditions and an end to separation of families. In the Palmasola de Santa Cruz Prison, more than three thousand prisoners are on a hunger strike that began six days ago. They are drinking no liquids.

In the women's section of the San Sebastián de Cochabamba Penitentiary a group of prisoners climbed onto the roof to crucify themselves. Some had their children with them, others were pregnant. There are more than 300 strikers. From today on they are sealing their lips.

Similar conflicts are also occurring in the city of Tarija, where 800 prisoners are on strike.

NAZIS ARRANGE TO MEET "PRIVATELY" IN LA PAZ

The Second International Ideological Conference on Nationality and Socialism took place "privately in the city of La Paz July 1 to 5," according to a five-point document reported on July 5. According to a press release, the meeting included representatives of Nazi movements in Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile and Peru. They agreed to form a non-governmental organization that will "look after the interests of the movements that are explicitly based on nationality and socialism in South America and the world."

In Bolivian law there is no reference to Nazism, but the country has suffered gravely under brutal military dictatorships which have had as advisors known Italian Fascist mercenaries, and Nazi war criminals such as Klaus Barbie.

The current rightist government is presided over by the bloody general Banzer, who headed a terror regime during the 1970s. Today, thanks to an electoral alliance, he runs a bloody terror regime that has littered the country with the corpses of people involved in social struggles.

THE BOLIVIAN PRESIDENT IS AT DEATH'S DOOR

The bloody General Banzer is hospitalized in Washington, D.C., in the United States. According to unofficial reports he has been diagnosed with systemic cancer, but the government is attempting to deny that. He is near death. No doubt his demise will debilitate the state and energize the movement.

Juventudes Libertarias, Bolivia Email: jjll_bolivia@hotmail.com Web: www.come.to/jlb


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