U.S. Journalist Arrested in Bolivia
Authorities Detain Lucian Read, New York Photojournalist, in Coca-Growing Chapare Region
By Alex Contreras Baspineiro
Narco News Authentic Journalism Scholar
April 3, 2003
COCHABAMBA, BOLIVIA; APRIL 3, 2002: Lucian Read, a North American photojournalist, was arrested on Tuesday, April 2nd, in the coca-growing town of Eterazama, by military troops of the Intelligence and Jungle Operations Command (CIOS-II, in its Spanish acronym).
About 25 uniformed soldiers, heavily armed, arrested the U.S. reporter even after he presented all his documents: passport, identification, press credentials, and others.
“It was a violent arrest, against the will of the journalist, and although he asked to be allowed to go to Cochabamba,” said Silviano Arancibia, an investigator with the Public Defender’s office in Villa Tunari.
The following information was released by the Bolivian Public Defender’s office:
The military operation occurred at around 2 p.m. yesterday when the photojournalist was reporting from the Cercarfil section of the town of Eterazama, located approximately 120 miles from Cochabamba.
The soldiers first brought him to the military barracks of CIOS II in Santa Rosa de Chipiriri and later they brought him to the Technical Judictial Police (PTJ) headquarters in Villa Tunari. He was freed at about 5 p.m.
The military tried to justify the arrest of the North American, saying that, “his safety was at risk being in the middle of coca growers.” However, it was the military that attacked the right to freedom of information and expression, as well as free transit.
Lucian Read is an independent photojournalist from New York, an Authentic Journalist, and his goal is to remain in the Tropic of Cochabamba to investigate the implementation of drug policy for two weeks.
The North American is working on a report about the cultivation of coca in the Chapare of Cochabamba. He will then travel to the Yungas region in La Paz, the town of Capinota in Cochabamba and the mining town of Huanuni in Oruro.
“They took him away by force. Various soldiers arrived in a military truck and a red wagon and they forced the gringo to board,” said the coca growers’ leader Feliciano Mamani, an eyewitness to the arrest.
The North American reported filed a formal complain about his detention to the authorities of the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia, as well as the National Parliament, the Public Defender’s office and the Human Rights Assembly.
According to the reporter, the military and police forces are apparently linked to the anti-drug policy and want to prevent a North American from being able to report, first hand, information about that policy.
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