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Narconews: Friedsky & Mantilla - Bolivia & Ecuador

Friedsky: Land War in Bolivia;
Mantilla: Lucio's Return to Ecuador

October 14, 2005
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As part of Narco News' ongoing series "Bolivia on the Train of Life," Jean Friedsky reports from Bolivia on the growing movement of that country's landless rural workers. In the last several years, reports Friedsky, peasant farmers without title to land, living in near- feudal conditions across Bolivia's countryside, have waged an unprecedented "land war," occupying unused private land and demanding an end a monopoly on farmland by the landed elite.

Friedsky writes:

"Here in Bolivia, the words 'la tierra' (the land) imply more than a piece of the ground. They have hidden meanings — power, racism, violence, suffering, struggle and hope — depending on who is speaking them.

"Bolivia may have gained international recognition for recent uprisings around water and gas, but this Guerra de la Tierra (Land War) is a daily bloody backdrop to the mass mobilizations that capture the world's attention. It's a battle for survival and sovereignty being waged in every corner of the country; a power conflict that is, in essence, rooted in colonial history of the white elite and the indigenous majority.

"The national, 50,000-member-strong Landless Movement (Movimiento Sin Tierra, MST) has led the fight to equalize land ownership in a country where 90 percent of the population owns 7 percent of the cultivatable land, where campesinos (peasant farmers) primarily work as peons for large estates or have been forced to leave the countryside altogether. Over the past five years, MST has centralized the issue of landownership in country's political agenda primarily by taking over owned land."

Read the full story, in The Narco News Bulletin:

Also, in the Narcosphere this week, Ecuadorian copublisher Diego Mantilla follows the strange saga of Lucio Gutiérrez, the former president of Ecuador who was overthrown last spring in a popular uprising. On Monday, as news spread that Colombia's government had offered Gutiérrez asylum in that country, Mantilla took a look back at the charges of narco-trafficking links that had dogged Gutiérrez for much of his time in office:

On Thursday, Gutiérrez announced that he would not accept asylum in Colombia but rather return to Ecuador, to "retake power." Mantilla looks at the path Lucio has taken since being forced out of the country:

From somewhere in a country called América,

Dan Feder
Managing Editor
The Narco News Bulletin

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