Tag Archive: Bolivia


Context Bolivian Repression

Context to Bolivian Repression

 

When the Bolivian government overturned the law outlawing the construction of a road that was signed at the end of the first march to protect the TIPNIS by signing into law a “prior” consultation with indigenous communities (despite having signed contracts for the construction of the road in 2008) the main indigenous organizations of both the lowlands and highlands decided to march again, starting at the end of April (http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/ultimas_noticias/2012/04/120427_ultnot_bolivia_tipnis_carretera_evo_fp.shtml).  They have now marched peacefully more than 600km from the Amazon to the Andes in 62 days, enduring great hardship and vulnerability, provoking serious health problems which eventually to led to the death of a baby on arrival in La Paz (http://www.lostiempos.com/diario/actualidad/economia/20120629/de-luto-por-una-bebe-dejan-acciones-para-hoy_176718_372949.html).

 

Pro-government groups sought to undermine the march from the outset, by blocking the routes to the planned starting point (http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/ultimas_noticias/2012/04/120426_ultnot_marcha_indigenas_bolivia_bd.shtml ), and then threatening the march and preventing access to water and other provisions in specific locations along the route.

 

Despite these adverse conditions, the march arrived in La Paz on Wednesday 27th June and again received great support from the population of La Paz.  However, the government is doing everything it can to undermine the credibility of the march and divide and weaken the movement.  Specifically it has done the following:

 

– Accused the march of plotting a coup d’etat before it arrived in La Paz.  (http://www.paginasiete.bo/2012-07-03/Nacional/Destacados/5Nac00303-04.aspx http://www.paginasiete.bo/2012-06-25/Nacional/Destacados/Tipnis-rechaza-golpe.aspx)

– Did not provide fair conditions for dialogue in good faith during the march and continuing up until now.

– Promoted conflict with pro-government mobilisations, creating high risk of physical confrontations (http://www.plataformaenergetica.org/content/3376)

– Criminalized leaders and activists, for example by jailing two young people from the environmentalist anarchist movement who had a strong presence in the mobilizations around the first march.  (http://www.bolpress.com/art.php?Cod=2012053101)

– Accused the leaders of the march of being connected to narcotraffic and being funded by opposition political parties.  (http://www.paginasiete.bo/2012-07-03/Nacional/Destacados/5Nac00303-04.aspx)

– On Saturday 30th June signed an agreement with a false leader of one regional indigenous organization and under this agreement offered marchers $150 and the air fare to return to their communities.  (http://www.erbol.com.bo/noticia.php?identificador=2147483960678)

– On Tuesday 3rd July signed an agreement with 45 community authorities, of which only 18 are from the TIPNIS and the rest are from a coca-growing area outside the TIPNIS boundaries. (http://www.erbol.com.bo/noticia.php?identificador=2147483960837)

– Bribed communities to accept the consultation by giving them motors and telecommunications equipment.

http://www.noticias.com.bo/2012/07/04/morales-dota-generadores-de-luz-radios-y-motores-fuera-de-borda-a-8-comunidades-del-tipnis-adelanto/

 

Through these tactics the government is weakening support for the movement and clearly aiming to exhaust the marchers in order to avoid effective dialogue for long enough to get to the start date of the “prior” consultation, scheduled for 29 July.  We are now at a tipping point because the march has not achieved open dialogue with the government despite having been in La Paz for one week, and if nothing happens before that date then it will become impossible to stop the project.  Considering the Bolivian government’s good relationship with grassroots and activist movements, an urgent international outcry against this illegitimate consultation process could make the difference and tip the balance in favour of the indigenous peoples’ demands.

 

By updating and re-launching this petition, we can show Evo Morales that the world wants him to “walk the talk” after being named “Defender of Mother Earth” in 2009.  This is not simply an internal political issue: the protection of the Amazon rainforest is vital for the future of our planet and if this project is allowed to go ahead then it will set the pace for others to follow.  Equally, the illegitimate “prior” consultation violates the article 32 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that sets out: “States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.”

 

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Following our friends in Bolivia, is fresh news that police has used teargas and water cannons to repress the Ninth March.

The Ninth March, made up of some 1,500 indigenous marchers and their allies, arrived in La Paz on June 27, after a 62-day, 580-kilometer trek from the Amazonian lowlands to protest the government’s proposed highway through the Isiboro-Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS). Just hours before the march arrived in the capital, President Evo Morales settled a National Police mutiny that had seen six days of street clashes in the city. Morales had darkly warned that the mutiny was part of a plot by conservative opposition forces to set the stage for a coup d’etat. Vice President Alvaro García Linera attempted to link the Ninth March to the supposed plot, saying the government had evidence of a “Plan TIPNIS” to destabilize the Morales government. Esteban Urquizu, governor of Chuquisaca with Morales’ Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), cautioned, “both the police mutiny and the indigenous march are seeking violence or confrontation, as well as deaths, in order to blame the government.”

TIPNIS indigenous leader Fernando Vargas was quick to refute the charge. “Our mobilizations were never [intended] to overthrow the government but, on the contrary, have been to redirect government policies that have gone astray,” he stated. (NACLA News, July 2; La Razón, June 27)

appropriated from HERE: http://www.ww4report.com/node/11254

An anonymous source in Bolivia, caught in the repression had this to say:

…a dodgy translation of the description i wrote out yesterday on a private message list:

What I have seen: those that were in the march shouted to let us into the Murillo Square, then went to the vice presidency and we kept shouting there. There several people joined our group, men and women, both people from the vigil and citizens in general. Some people (I don’t know exactly who) started throwing things like fruit at the police, then suddenly someone started to hit the shield of a police officer with a flag pole. This was enough for the police to justify launching tear gas and we all started running to escape the gases, including children who were with their mothers. From where we stopped half a block, I saw that people were still throwing things at the police. They continued releasing even more gas, so the streets became unbearable but several people continued there and I saw people throwing sticks at the police. I can not say who threw them. The police then began with the Neptune water cannon, sending high pressure water at the tents of the vigil. And I saw people fighting the police with wooden sticks. They continued releasing more gas, one person even told me that you could feel the gas 5 blocks away.

It would be interesting to know the story of someone else who was there, but for me the key question is who was the person who started to hit the shields with a stick? Someone told me it was a man and a citizen off the street, not one of the march, and he had seen the same person in other manifestations doing the same. We must find out who is and whether supports the movement and has an anger problem or if someone infiltrated that seeks to create confrontation. What is clear is that this person is to blame for generating violence and cause the police to react … On the other hand, is not justified in the police launch so much gas at a march of women and children just because ONE person showed them violence.

We must denounce this.

[youtube http://youtu.be/bmKXilO-1O8]

What the international community can do is to watch, comment and use our position to help our sisters and children and brothers. As fellow citizens of the spaceship Earth, we have an obligation to do what we can and not continue to turn a blind eye to things we feel we have right to ignore.

Other really informative readings :

http://boliviadiary.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/law-to-consult-indigenous-communities-on-tipnis-road/    Check out the videos

http://www.boliviaweekly.com/government-excludes-tipnis-from-dialogue-and-accord/2968/

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2012/06/416569.shtml