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1. Bolivian Troops Enter Vinto, fire on civilians; 2. Funeral for martyred taxi driver; 3. Response from Nation's Youth
Immediate History: Photos from the daily Los Tiempos of Cochabamba, Bolivia. The Narco News Bulletin declares the journalists and photographers of that newspaper as September 2000 Heroes of the Month

The Narco News Bulletin

"The Name of Our Country is América"

-- Simón Bolívar

Today's Press Briefing

October 1, 2000

Mass Bolivian Revolt Against US-Imposed Drug War

Regime Shoots at Civilians: Banzer Could Fall at any Hour

US Media's Silence: Deafening

International Communiqué from Narco News

PRIMERO: The events in Bolivia, as we report today, become more grave by the hour. At blame is the US-imposed war on drugs and the refusal of the regime of Hugo Banzer to deviate from US policy of total eradication of the coca crop, including for non-harmful chewing of coca leaf by Bolivian indigenous and popular sectors.

SEGUNDO: The US-backed Banzer regime has taken to violence against civilians to try to quell the protests that have paralyzed this nation for two weeks.

TERCERO: The mass protests only grow stronger and the Banzer regime, if it does not back off its hardline, could fall within weeks, days, even hours.

CUARTO: The Narco News Bulletin condemns the near-total blackout of news from Bolivia by English-language press agencies. The only wire service to cover yesterday's shooting of civilians by Bolivian military troops was Reuters, for which we congratulate the agency and hope to see more coverage. Associated Press, on the other hand, is keeping its newspapers and readers in the dark, and in a just world would fall with the Banzer regime.

QUINTO: The Narco News Bulletin hereby names the journalists and photographers of the daily newspaper Los Tiempos of Cochabamba, Bolivia as Heroes of the Month for September, 2000. If a fraction of the United States media were as conscious, courageous and independent as this major daily, there would not be a hypocritical drug war. Today, we translate more of their reports.


Troops Open Fire on Civilians

The Movement Grows

From the daily Los Tiempos, Cochabamba, Bolivia

Sunday, October 1, 2000:

At 8 a.m. yesterday, Benito Espinoza Cuba, a 25-year-old taxi driver, lost his life when he fell to the ground near the K'ora bridge in Vinto, after being shot in the head by soldiers who shot indiscriminately at all "suspected blockaders."

His companions, who resisted the Army's invation, "dragged" the body of the youth 200 meters to a private house with the hope of saving his live, but the efforts were in vain: he died instantly.

It all began at 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, when nearly 800 soldiers in 10 vehicles of the Tumusla Regiment, the Training Center for Special Troops (CITE) and the Military Police, led by Colonel Néstor Borda Paz, took the town of Vinto by surprise, 17 kilometers from Cochabamba, to open the way for a convoy of 100 heavy-weight vehicles to Suticollo where more than 1,200 troops of the Army's Second Division of Oruro awaited them to escort the trip to La Paz.

The military invation, led by the high ranking officer, was "savage," according to the victims, because the soldiers, armed for open combat with modern weapons, gas masks and anti-riot equipment, began to shoot tear gas, rubber bullets and firearms against hundreds of defenseless men, women and peasant children that were maintaining the blockade in this area.

The first four victims that opposed the troops were wounded by lead, rubber and gas canisters and the military contingent then advanced slowly.

A steam shovel lifted more than 12 blockades between Vinto and Suticollo until "delivering" the "trophy" of 100 vehicles from its counterparts of Oruro, who were in charge of escorting them to Caracollo, toward the national capital of La Paz.

Upon their return to Vinto, the military troops encountered the peasant resistence and from the "Warriors of Valle Bajo," nearly 400 youths between 14 and 25 who had restarted the road blockade and began to throw stones, arrows and sticks that didn't have any impact on the uniformed contingent.

For seven continuous hours there were confrontations over three-and-a-half kilometers between blockaders and soldiers where, in different circumstances, more than 20 men, women and children were shot at indiscriminately by a flurry of firearms, rubber bullets and tear-gases.

All the wounded were attended to in the emergency rooms of the Vinto and Quillacollo hospital: Eight received surgery.

List of the Wounded:

Tito Siñani P. (29), José Luis Siles (27), Griselda Veizaga (19), Iván Calizaya C. (18), Oscar Torres (27), Ricardo Valdivia (31), Jimena Zenteno (6), Wilson Sarmiento (15), Joaquín Cartagena (49), Juan Ríos Calle (47), Luis Carvajal Aquino (34), Remberto Alvarez C. (35), Julián Characayo (34), Ramiro Terán S. (18), Jesús Cruz C. (27), Elizabeth Rivero (20), Sabino Flores (42), Paulina Tordoya P. (25), Mario Arias (33), Sebastián Molina (17), Raúl Soliz ( ), Delia Rivas O. (20), Vilma Mamani (13), Ramiro Terán (18), Lizeth Fernández (18), Teodora Delgadillo, Juan C. Rodríguez y Pablo Hinojosa R. (14).

Regional Governor Blames the Army

The regional governor, José Orías, said that the actions in Vinto are the responsibility of the Armed Forces and that his office only gave logistic support, as he doesn't lead the soldiers.

He recognized that this type of situation does not contribute to the development of dialogue between the union leaders and the authorities.

In spite of that, he expressed his confidence that the dialogue between the main peasant leader, Felipe Quispe; the Cochabambino leader Alberto Zapata (who will take an express flight to the dialogue zone) and the state ministers will give positive results and put an end to the social problems that have shaken the country for 15 days.

About the injuries to minors, José Orías exhorted the parents of families that participate in the blockades not to use their small children, who during the fights run the risk of begin injured.

The Government Did Not Learn the Lessons of April

The government never wanted to accept that what happened in April was the beginning of what could happen at any moment. As happened almost six months ago, those who then marched in the streets and roads warned the government that they would return to do the same. The social actors that rose up in April understood that the government always cedes to pressur, and this has become something cyclical and evident.

Eight months ago, the center of the conflicts was the city of Cochabamba, where the Coordination for the Defense of Water and Life led a movement called "the water war," that moved the city and the entire country. During the confrontations between the uniformed soldiers and police and the citizens, a student died and more than 30 people were wounded. The principal demand was that the Aguas del Tunari consortium -- that weeks prior had raised the price of potable water more than 100 percent -- go away. And that's what happened.

But the other grievances (paying the medical costs of the wounded, principally) were not attended to in their totality. Including when the conflict had already acquired desperate dimensions, the government minimized it and opted for militarizing the city, but it failed and later had to back down.

The Peasants

The other front of the conflict in April was the peasants. The town of Achacachi was the center of the confrontations in the highlands. The government demonstrated a similar attitude: first to minimize the blockades and opt for using force to disperse them. The confrontations left three peasants, a professor and a soldier dead. This happened on April 9 in Achacachi, in the state of La Paz.

But, parallel to those fronts, surged others, such as that of the police, who with Abad Hinojosa at the head rioted and caused panic in the government, that in those circumstances needed them more than ever to mitigate the conflicts. The Executive Branch did not take any other means than aproving a salary increase of 50 percent.

In all those cases, the government backed down, demonstrating that it always reacts when the potatoes burn.

The Film Repeats Itself

First, surged the threats by various sectors of society, and the government did not act before these warnings. Later came the mobilizations and blockades, and the government went again to the National Police and the Armed Forces to quell the spirits. As happened in April, the dialogue had to be preceded by deaths (12) and dozens of wounded, and the government begins to back down.


The teachers seek a 50 percent salary increase. The Minister of Education offered to pay bonuses.

The coca growers oppose the eradication of coca fields and the construction of military bases in Chapare. The government suspended the construction of the bases but refuses to stop the eradication.

The peasants reject the Water Resources Law and demand modfications in the land reform law. The House of Representatives will not consider the Water Resources Law. The peasants want the project anulled, considering that at its root is the privatization of the resource of water. Regarding the INRA law, 11 articles are considered that could be modified.

The Country is Paralyzed

From Los Tiempos

October 1, 2000

La Paz | Los Tiempos.- Under pressure, the government of Hugo Banzer began to attend to the demands of social sectors that have succeeded in convulsing the country for two weeks.

The government began to address those sectors, although the pressure tactics continue in the country.

A general strike by teachers has closed the schools for two weeks.

The peasants of the high plains of La Paz, the coca-growers of Chapare and the Coordination for Defense of Water and Life of Cochabamba maintain three states virtually blockaded, no less than the central spoke of the country, causing severe economic damages to different productive sectors.

The violence excersized by military and police troops, with campaigns of repression from airplanes and the use of firearms, has not succeeded in demobilizing the sectors caught in their demands.


-- Mobilizations of urban and rural teachers in various state capitals of the country, principally in La Paz.

-- the march of the students of the 20th Century University.

-- The Blockade of roads in the high plans and Los Yungas.

-- The blockade of the Santa Cruz-Cochabamba highway maintained by the coca-growers of the tropic.

-- The Blockade of the old highway to Santa Cruz by peasants.

-- The blockade of some roads of Santa Cruz (Yapacaní, Montero).

-- Protest mobilizations against the President in Beni because he delivered land titles to the town of Yuracaré in Cochabamba.

-- Street blockades in Sucre by transportation workers against Soboce, owner of the Fancesa company.

-- General strike by the Central Workers Board.

-- Civic Strike in the city of La Paz.

-- Mobilizations (not massive) led by the Coordination for Defense of Water and Life in Cochabamba.

-- Strike by the wives of the police demanding that the government keep its prior promises.


The secretary-general of the peasants union, Felipe Quispe, a.k.a. "El Mallcu," warned at the end of August that beginning on 90 days from the previous agreements unattended to by the government with his sector, the blockade of roads would begin in September.

The Executive Branch didn't take the warning seriously. "El Mallcu" waited for the 90 days fixed by the government, and at the end of August, in a national peasants meeting, they decided to begin the blockades.

Los Tiempos Editorial:


Two weeks after the iniciation of the largest wave of protests in recent decades, Bolivia has come to the point in which it cannot avoid confronting its destiny. What occurs next, independently of the course of immediate future events, will without a doubt footprints in the national future and there will be no manner to avoid that each of the sectors of society will assume the consequences of its actions. We are, without a doubt, before one of the most crucial moments in our history. The magnitude of the social phenomenon that has been unleashed is so large that it surpasses the many possibilities to joining together well-intentioned initiatives, but at these heights so rarely practices, such as the dialogue promoted by the Catholic Church and the Public Defendor. And much less still is the capacity of the current government to react.

It is probable and desireable that the dialogue and the negotiations can disactivate some fronts of the conflict without much difficulty. In the case of the demands of the teachers or the "Coordination" of Cochabamba, their demands, although excessive, are still on the battlefield and within the capacity of the State.

The same is not true, disgracefully, of the deepest causes of the mobilization by the peasants of the high plains and the tropic of Cochabamba. In Both cases, although for different reasons, the formal demands are for more, much more, than the government and all the members of urban society could dare to see, recognize or, much less, assimilate.

It's that the crisis that in recent weeks has turned on a transcendant light for many possibilities and the limitations of a government as evil as the current one. It goes much further to expose the deficiencies of our political system and economic structure, whose profound necessity for change is already undeniable. It's true dimension is so profound that more than putting a government, a system of political organization or a particular development model in question, it has reached the point of questioning the fundamental bases of our existence as a society organized under a national state.

Because of that, it is not convenient that we keep fooling ourselves.

It is better at this moment to face a series of challenges that already don't just touch the government, nor the political system, but the entire society.

What occurs in this country has made evident not only the governmental weakness, but also on the state level, and something even more grave: the fragility of the social fabric whose unity, more apparent than real, depends on fine threads that if they break will unleashe forces that nobody can predict.

Disgracefully, not even the extreme situations that we have come to seem sufficient to open our eyes to the reality. Not only do our political elites refuse to show signs of understanding the magnitude of the damage that with their irresponsibility and senseless manner of acting have done to and made the country. But also the other sectors of society, including those that in appearance question the current state of things in the most radical manner, we are to blame, for actions and ommissions, for ways of behaving that are not reflective of reality. The result is that in Bolivia a process of national destruction has been unleashed. A process that, with everything out of control, threatens to throw off, without distinction, the governors and the governed, officialists and opponents, businessmen and workers, socialists and liberals, trotskyists and "coordinators." One way or another, we have brought our country to the point in which its viability is in doubt.

This is to hope, however, that in spite of the advancing deterioration of national unity, our capacity to react has not died, that the survival instinct, although this is the last moment, be imposed over what drives us to destruction and that further than the differences of interests, of opinions, of ideas and beliefs, we understand that we are at the moment of decision of whether we all save ourselves or nobody is saved.

Chapare May Take Up Arms

Chapare | Los Tiempos.- A tense calm was lived in the tropic of Cochabamba yesterday, although the coca growers announced that they will take up arms and harden their actions beginning today if there is no response to their demands.

...In the town of San Isidro, the activity is barely returning to normal, although they don't discount renewing the means of pressure (the routes are still blockaded) if the dialogue between their union leaders and government authorities fail.

Slowly, foods and some products begin to be scarce in the tropic, and it is normal to see the housewives prepare food in campfires and not kitchens with gas.

Tomatoes and potatoes have practically disappeared from the zone. Some products like Coca Cola, cigarettes, coca leaf, beer and bread are sold at prices higher than established for the zone.

-- Police guards and soldiers have been reduced for the weekend.

-- The blockades continue intact, not even a bicycle can pass.

-- The townspeople prepare their food on campfires.

-- The military soldiers eat only once a day, since there already is no food. At 4 p.m. the security troops eat.

Demand to Punish the Military Official Who Threatened Journalists

The Union of Press Workers of Cochabamba (STPC) demands that the state and national authorities sanction as an example the official that friday threatened one of its leaders and some other journalists with death as they covered events in Chapare.


Bolivia, US, "Narco-tize" the Conflict (Friday-Saturday Briefings)

Thursday's Bolivia Press Briefing (Important Background Info)

September 22-27 Press Briefing: Perú Analysis

September 21 Press Briefing on the Closing of the Geopolitical Drug Observatory

Archive of Press Briefings September 19-20

Archive of Press Briefings September 8-18

Archive of Press Briefings September 1-7

Archive of Press Briefings from August 24-30

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