November 28, 2001
Narco News 2001
They Picked on the Wrong Guy
A Narco News Global Alert
Viceroy Overplays Hand with Repression
of Coca Eradication Threatened
Hero for the Environment
Workers Detained on Monday
the US Embassy Says, Goes"
-- ret. Colonel,
Bolivian Armed Forces
Narco News Commentary:
Nothing is done by
the Bolivian government without permission from the U.S. Embassy.
But yesterday the colonial viceroy -- Ambassador Manuel Rocha
-- overplayed his hand.
Fearful of the popular
response to government threats of resuming coca eradication in
the Chapare region -- where eradication was suspended and 4,000
military troops had to be withdrawn last week -- the Bolivian
regime and its Embassy puppetmaster tried to invoke fear. On
Tuesday, one of the nation's most important labor leaders and
a global environmental hero, Oscar Olivera, was forcibly detained.
A message from his family appears below. It says that this patriot
has been charged with "sedition" among other crimes.
Oscar Olivera, however,
does not go quietly into the night. The winner of the prestigious
Goldman Award for environmental activism for the year 2001, Olivera
led a successful citizen movement against the Bolivian government,
the World Bank and multinational corporations; their attempted
greedy grab of water resources faced historic defeat at the hands
of an organized populace. Last year, Olivera received, in Washington,
DC, the Letelier-Moffit Human Rights Award, presented to him
by the Institute for Policy Studies and a leader of the AFL-CIO.
Olivera has spoken in the halls of the U.S. Congress, and in
gatherings from Washington to London to Ottawa to Vancouver in
It is obvious that as
the US Embassy and its obedient government in Bolivia are trying
to spread fear of repression, as they attempt to jump-start the
eradication of small coca gardens, grown by families, for use
as a food, but they have not quelled the social revolt. Olivera,
and the labor and water movements that he has helped to lead,
have demonstrated active solidarity with the plight of the coca
growers. That is his only crime: Speaking and organizing, within
his rights under law, against a brutal tyranny imposed from far
The US government has
long portrayed Bolivia as its Latin American "success story"
in the "war on drugs." It was able to do that through
a dictator-turned-"president" named Hugo Banzer, who
fell ill last summer and no longer inspires fear among the public.
The new president, Jorge Quiroga, does not have the same iron
grip. And because the Bolivian regime has misdirected too large
a percentage of its wealth toward the drug war, the national
economy is in tatters. As Narco News has reported in recent
days, virtually every sector of Civil Society is lined up in
opposition to the regime's policies that are imposed by the US
Narco News today publishes the letter from
Olivera's family, and links to information and reports from around
the world that demonstrate the global good will and solidarity
that embrace Oscar Olivera and the movements he represents.
Olivera was released from
government custody on Tuesday afternoon, but the State warned
him that if he does or says anything that the regime dislikes
in the next three days, he may be arrested again. By arresting
Olivera, the Embassy and the regime had hoped to intimidate the
social movements in Bolivia at this key hour in the struggle.
Instead, they have sparked global attention and local outrage:
the world is watching you, Ambassador Rocha, and you will be
held responsible by Civil Society within the United States and
throughout the world for any more repressive measures against
Olivera or any citizen leader on your watch. Because you, Mr.
Viceroy, are under our watch. That's not sedition, ambassador.
It's called democracy.
from somewhere in a country
Al Giordano, Publisher
The Narco News Bulletin
Human Rights Award with his Son in DC
from Marcela Olivera
Our friend, brother and
comrade, Oscar Olivera
is in trouble. Oscar, as you know, was one of the leaders that
led a movement to successfully reverse water privatization here
in Bolivia. Today he was arrested on charges of, among other
things, "sedition, conspiracy, instigating public disorder,
and criminal association." Oscar's crime? Leading protests
against water privatization.
In arresting Oscar rights
of association and protest clearly established in the Bolivian
constitution were violated, as were his rights to due process.
These absurd charges were
originally filed earlier this year, in a move clearly aimed at
dividing peaceful opponents of the government, and discouraging
the exercise of the right to association and protest.
Oscar was released from
physical detention this afternoon, but the charges have not been
dropped. He must report every 72 hours to authorities, and can
be detained anew at any time.
This kind of harassment
is intolerable, and a clear violation of the most basic civil
and political rights of association and expression. We need you
to act today. Please send a simple, direct message to those in
power here, demanding that such abuses must stop.
Below please find a sample
fax, and addresses. Please send a copy to the President Quiroga
of Bolivia, with a copy to the US Embassy in La Paz.
Please also send a copy
Thank you in advance for
Lic. Jorge Quiroga Ramirez
President of Bolivia
We are deeply troubled
to hear of the arrest this morning of Oscar Olivera the president
of the Cochabamba Federation of Factory Workers and a spokesperson
for the Coalition in Defense of Water and Life, on charges of
Oscar is well known around
the world as a courageous labor leader and human rights activist.
News of his detention has spread fast. We are fully aware of
the spurious nature of the charges filed against him. His arrest
sends an alarming message to human rights workers around the
world: that in Bolivia fighting for basic rights is an offense
chargeable with "sedition".
We call upon you end such
arbitrary arrests, and drop the charges against him and other
leaders of the Coordinadora Samuel Soria, Omar Fernandez, and
personally commit yourself to seeing that such violations of
democratic rights and due process are not committed in the future.
Please, send the letters
Lic. Jorge Quiroga Ramirez
Presidencia de la Republica
Fax: (591-2) 220-4213
Intelligence Agency Reports...
Bolivia Prez Changes
His E-Mail Address!
to our global & popular response,
last mailbox overflowed
his new one...
Quiroga that the American People are not
by the "terrorist" ambassador...
Sr. Manuel Rocha
Embajador de Estados Unidos en Bolivia
Fax. (591-2) 243-3710
With a copy to:
Federación de Trabajadores
Fabriles de Cochabamba
Fax (591-4) 450-3530
with Ralph Nader
About Oscar Olivera
The BBC reports: "Multinational Company Thwarted by Local Bolivian Community"
The AFL-CIO reports: Labor's
Friend in Bolivia
column about Oscar
Olivera in The Razor Wire
Authentic journalist Greg
Olivera from London
Olivera Interview by the Multinational Monitor
Florida shows solidarity with Oscar Olivera
Corporate Watch also interviews Olivera
"A Hero's Welcome in Washington DC," by Nonviolent
And in London, reports The Guardian
Club shows its
He's a Commissioner of the World Forum
Receives Award from
Linda Chavez Thompson
Archives of Last
Year's Press Briefings on Bolivia:
Fall of AP's Bolivia Correspondent:
More Narco News, Click
Does the Viceroy Think He's Fooling?