Sign Up for Free Mailing List

November 28, 2001

Narco News 2001

Oscar Olivera: They Picked on the Wrong Guy

A Narco News Global Alert

Bolivia Regime

Goes After Olivera

The Viceroy Overplays Hand with Repression

As Resumption of Coca Eradication Threatened

Global Hero for the Environment

and Workers Detained on Monday

"What 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resuming coca eradication in the Chapare region -- where eradication was suspended and 4,000 military troops had to be withdrawn last week -- the Bolivian regime and its Embassy puppetmaster tried to invoke fear.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 recent years.

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 away.

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 Embassy.

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 called América,

Al Giordano, Publisher

The Narco News Bulletin

Oscar Olivera:

Héroe Americano

Olivera Shares Human Rights Award with his Son in DC

Letter from Marcela Olivera

Dear Friends,

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 to us.

Thank you in advance for your solidarity.

Marcela Olivera

Sample Letter

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 "sedition".

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 to:

Lic. Jorge Quiroga Ramirez
Presidencia de la Republica
Fax: (591-2) 220-4213


Narco News Intelligence Agency Reports...

Bolivia Prez Changes

His E-Mail Address!

due to our global & popular response,

his last mailbox overflowed

Here's his new one...

Tell Quiroga that the American People are not

represented 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


Oscar Olivera with Ralph Nader

Links About Oscar Olivera

Winner of the international Goldman Award for the Environment, 2001

Winner of the Letelier-Moffit Human Rights Award, 2000

The BBC reports: "Multinational Company Thwarted by Local Bolivian Community"

The AFL-CIO reports: Labor's Friend in Bolivia

Chuck Armsbury column about Oscar Olivera in The Razor Wire

Authentic journalist Greg Palast Contacts 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 Activist magazine

And in London, reports The Guardian

And in Ottawa...

The Sierra Club shows its solidarity

He's a Commissioner of the World Forum

Mr. Olivera Goes To Washington

Oscar Olivera Receives Award from
AFL-CIO Leader Linda Chavez Thompson

Background Info

Nov. 27, 2001: Coca Growers

Study Government Proposal

Nov. 25, 2001: Bolivia Suspends

Coca Eradication; Talks Begin

Nov. 22, 2001: US Congress

"Disturbed" by Events

Nov. 16, 2001: Bolivia Burning

Archives of Last Year's Press Briefings on Bolivia:

10/5-10/2000: Five Days That Shook Bolivia

10/3-4/2000: Generals Don't Want to Fight Bolivian People

10/1-2/2000: Zero Hour in Bolivia

9/29-30/2000: Bolivia, US, "Narco-tize" the Conflict

9/28/2000: Spotlight on Bolivia, in Context of Perú and Colombia

The Fall of AP's Bolivia Correspondent:

McFarren Part I

McFarren Part II

Washington Post Report on McFarren's Fall

For More Narco News, Click Here

Who Does the Viceroy Think He's Fooling?