Leading Bolivian Water Activists Detained
Leading Bolivian Water Activists Detained - A Strong International Stand is Needed!!
To all friends in New Zealand and internationally
OSCAR OLIVERA IS IN DETENTION!
PLEASE ALSO READ THE MESSAGE BELOW THIS
The Water Pressure Group of Auckland, New Zealand will discuss its response to this outrage in a meeting tonight.
We believe that where possible, a stronger message than letters should be sent to the government of Bolivia. Our group has - in 2000 and earlier this year, hosed down the Bolivian Consulate in Auckland with our fire engine (see our website). Perhaps consumer boycotts or other citizens' sanctions against the Bolivian government or Bechtel Corp could be another way to go?
On 15 November, we sent a letter to the Bolivian government and to their local consulate, condemning their proposed plans to legalise the export of water, and requesting a deputation with their representative here. Our letter has been ignored, so we will at very least be writing another requesting an urgent meeting with their consul.
Given that since then the export law has been enacted - against the opposition of the Bolivian people - and in a similar way that governments globally press forward with the corporate agenda threatening working peoples' rights to water - we will be linking our condemnation of current events in Bolivia with our struggles here against water privatisation, commercialisation and user charges.
Others in Wellington - the capital city of NZ - are talking of protesting at the Bolivian Embassy - re water export law and current situation of pending sedition charges.
Water actiivists and groups meeting at the Council of Canadians' Water fir People and Nature Forum in Vancouver in July recognised the need for grassroots organisation to fightback against the global corporate menace to water supplies. Perhaps this outrage presents the first occasion where we can plan and coordinate a mutual response to the Bolivian government, the WTO (GATS) and our "own" governments? Is there somehow we can co-ordinate an e-discussion on this? Perhaps CoCanadians or other group could coordinate - at a pinch we could stretch our entirely voluntary resources to act as a nexus for correspondence but it could be better if a moderated thread was established?
This morning at 7:30 am the police in Cochabamba arrested Oscar Olivera, spokesperson for the Coordinadora, on his way to work. The charges are "sedition, conspiracy, instigating public disorder, criminal association, and other charges". Similar warrants are out for the arrest of Coordinadora spokespeople Omar Fernandez and Samuel Soria.
The charges against Oscar and other spokespersons of the Coalition are related to their role in successfully reversing privatization of local water systems, opposing the water export laws, and supporting the blockades called for by the Irrigators Federation of Cochabamba in solidarity with the coca growers demands.
The government filed charges against Olivera in July 2001. That same month Olivera was given direct assurances by the Minister of Government Leopoldo Fernandez that charges had in fact been dropped. The government, currently in negotiations with coca growers, is only now acting on the warrants in order to create distractions and strengthen it's position at the bargaining table. This is clear harassment and a blatant violation of basic civil rights to association and expression, and a violation of due process.
Currently Oscar is being held by the Technical Judicial Police. Please stay in touch. We will provide more information as it is available.
Coalition in Defense of Water and Life