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Bolivian Crackdown: 100 Leaders Arrested

Bolivian crackdown: Evo Morales menaced, 100 leaders arrested

Contacts in Cochabamba have informed us that Evo Morales is currently on hunger strike. He is summoned by the police tomorrow, Monday, 27/1. In protest against the repression, a nation-wide blockade of roads has also been announced Monday by the peasant organisations.

The government is extending the circle of repression. Friday, following a demonstration in Cochabamba, the police vandalised and closed down the office of the Water Coordination (the organisation that successfully opposed water privatisation scheme imposed by the WB and threw Baechtel out of the country). A warrant for the arrest of its leader, Oscar Olivera, for "sedition" has been issued.

Bolivian crackdown: Evo Morales menaced, 100 leaders arrested

About a week ago, a month of military provocations in Bolivia finally culminated in a demonstration of peasants of the Seis Federaciones in the Cochabamba region in which several peasants and four soldiers were shot (rather strange, as the peasants don't go to demos with rifles...) The government immediately arrested more than 60 union leaders, including several well known to PGA and the antiglobalisation movement, such as Leonilda (who demonstrated with us in Prague). The parliament has voted to lift the immunity of the most popular (and only indigenous) deputy in the country, Evo Morales, leader of the Cinco Federaciones. He is accused of being the "intellectual author" of the killings (remember Tony Negri...?). Why not send him to Guantanamo while they are at it?

All those who were in Cochabamba last september for the 3rd Peoples' Global Action conference (hosted by the Seis Federaciones) remember the personal threats made by the US ambassador against Evo. (Evo had had the gall to regret the victims of September 11th and those of US imperialism at the same time!) No one can doubt that this is a new and grave escalation of the planned US agression against the popular movements of the Andes. This is a time when friendships should show.

I propose that the "Global Cacerolazo" scheduled for SATURDAY/SUNDAY FEBRUARY 2/3, against the World Economic Forum in NY and in support of the Argentine popular uprising, be broadened to include a demand for the immediate liberation of all political prisoners in Bolivia.

L'ejercito fuera del Tropico!

Olivier

PS. Please send protests (see below) from your organisations to the Bolivian government, media and human rights organisations.

Urgent Message: Repression in Bolivia and suspension of the parliamentary immunity of Evo Morales


DESPACHO PRESIDENTE DEL H. CONGRESO NACIONAL
VICEPRESIDENTE DE LA REPÚBLICA DE BOLIVIA
S.E. Jorge Quiroga Ramírez
prescong@congreso.gov.bo

SECRETARÍA GENERAL
Gustavo Aliaga Palma
Fax 00 591 2 201211
secgen@vicepres.gov.bo

Sir,

These last weeks, the Bolivian government has repeatedly violated human rights, provoking an extremely grave situation, particularly for the indigenous peasant population in the region of Tropico de Cochabamba.

Since december, the Bolivian government, with the pretext of the war on narcotrafic, executing a plan for the forced militarisation of the Tropico region, has brutally repressed the numerous peaceful protests organised by the people of this region, in majority indigenous. A few days ago, this activity finally provoked violent incidents between the military and the cocalero farmers. In the town of Sacaba, a number of demonstrators were assassinated and others wounded or imprisoned. However, four military were also killed in the clashes.

Jumping on the occasion, and with the excuse of a petion submitted by the families of the dead soldiers, the governement ordered the arrest of more than sixty union leaders of different organisations, mostly from the Tropico de Cochabamba. The parliament, on the instigation of the government and under military pressure, decided in an unprecedented move, to suppress the immunity of national deputy, Evo Morales, the internationally known union leader, accused of being the "intellectual author" of the killings.

In just as arbitrary fashion, the authorities have ordered Evo Morales to pay a huge financial "indemnisation" to the rich owner of a luxury hotel invoking "economic losses" during days of social conflict. (Just as though MAI or FTA already existed!)

At the same time, and without any apparent motive, the Bolivian authorities have shut down Radio Soberania (Radio Sovereignty), the radio of the Seis Federaciones in the region.

In view of all these grave and obvious violations of human rights garanteed by the Bolivian constitution, we demand the respect of legal and human rights, the liberation of the arbitrarily arrested unionists, the restauration of deputy Evo Morales' legitimate rights, the re-opening of Radio Soberania and the opening of the real dialog of national reconciliation, under the auspices of the Church, which has been demanded by the principle sectors of Bolivian society.

date and signature:

ENDS

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