Troops Enter Vinto, fire on civilians; 2. Funeral for martyred taxi driver; 3. Response from Nation's Youth
Photos from the daily Los
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
Name of Our Country is América"
October 1, 2000
Bolivian Revolt Against US-Imposed Drug War
Shoots at Civilians: Banzer Could Fall at any Hour
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
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
Open Fire on Civilians
From the daily Los Tiempos, Cochabamba,
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
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
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
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
Regional Governor Blames
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.
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 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.
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.
ARE AT LEAST TEN FRONTS OF CONFLICT
-- 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
-- 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
-- Street blockades in Sucre by transportation
workers against Soboce, owner of the Fancesa company.
-- General strike by the Central Workers
-- 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.
GOVERNMENT WAS WARNED
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:
OURSELVES OR NOBODY IS SAVED
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.
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
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
-- The military soldiers eat only once
a day, since there already is no food. At 4 p.m. the security
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.
is your war. This is your war on drugs. Any questions?
When the US Media
Sleeps, We Stand Alert