In a pre-dawn maneuver on January 24, the
lower house of the Bolivian parliament voted to expel Congressman Evo Morales,
the most popular vote-getter in Bolivian parliamentary history and leader
of the Six Federations coca growers union. The move strips Morales
of his congressional immunity, opening the way for the government to attempt
to send him to prison on charges of fomenting unrest, where he would join
most of the rest of the coca growers union leadership.
Street battles between coca growers and
police broke out during the week in Cochabamba, and a sporadic campaign
of road blockades in the Chapare is set to intensify beginning today.
Morales, the subject of numerous anonymous death threats, is now on the
seventh day of a hunger strike to protest his expulsion.
Earlier this week, the various sectors
of civil society calling for the protest blockades laid out their demands
for the Bolivian government:
The deadline for the government to meet these
demands was Thursday. The government had expressed a willingness
to negotiate this week, according to long-time Bolivia watcher Georgean
Potter. But, as Potter noted, with most of the coca grower union
leadership in prison, with whom will it negotiate?
Reinstate Evo Morales in Congress.
Repeal Supreme Decree 26415, enacted without
parliamentary approval, which closed the last remaining legal coca markets
in the Chapare and sparked the latest round of violence between the peasants
and the Bolivian government.
Bring truly corrupt members of parliament
to justice or shut down parliament itself as a corrupt institution.
Grant Argentina's request to extradite former
dictator and former president Hugo Banzer for war crimes during his dictatorship.
Potter visited Morales last Saturday at
union headquarters in Cochabamba, where he is under the protection of Water
War warriors, veterans of the struggle in Cochabamba over privatization
of the water supply. "He is very weak physically," wrote Potter.
"The number one request he has for the international community is to insist
on the release of other peasant leaders currently imprisoned."
Both Potter and the Andean Information
Network have reported recent incidents where US-funded anti-drug forces
have exceeded their mandates. As reported by Potter, agents of UMOPAR,
the US-funded special anti-drug squads, attempted to unlawfully seize Six
Federations leader Luis Cutipa on January 24 in his home town of Ivirgarzama.
The agents, dressed in plain clothes, were fended off by Cutipa's supporters
despite shooting tear gas and threatening to use live ammunition.
"Since UMOPAR is funded directly by the US government and their function
is not to arrest people nor disguise themselves, this incident merits special
attention in Washington, DC," wrote Potter.
Another US-funded unit, the Bolivian military's
Expeditionary Task Force, shot at and beat peasants attempting to blockade
the Cochabamba-Santa Cruz highway on Wednesday, according to the Andean
Information Network (AIN). A member of the same task force shot and
killed union leader Casimiro Huanca on December 6. "This irregular
mercenary force receives salaries from the Narcotic Affairs Section of
the US Embassy and has been credibly implicated in a significant portion
of the human rights violations committed during the last five months in
the Chapare region," AIN noted.
for interviews with Evo Morales and Felipe Quispe (El Mallku), and ongoing
reporting by the new Narco News Andean correspondent, Luis Gomez.
Visit the Andean Information Network at http://www.scbbs-bo.com/ain/
for ongoing reports and analysis on the drug war in Bolivia.)
-- END --
Issue #222, 2/1/02
Editorial: On Freedom, Rights and Duties | At the Statehouse I: Former Delaware Governor Heads Effort to End Mandatory Minimums, Stop Prison Expansion | At the Statehouse II: Kentucky Legislator Offers Bill Allowing Police Access to Oxycontin Prescription Records | At the Statehouse III: Marijuana Decrim Bill Dead in New Mexico, Other Drug Reform Measures Still Breathing | At the Statehouse IV: Washington State Legislation Would Reduce Drug Penalties, Recognize Social Dealing | Radical Party Putting Manchester Police in a Pickle over Pot Cafe, Cops Unappreciative | Violent Dope Fiends a Myth: Another Study Finds Alcohol Most Linked to Violence | Bolivia Crisis Sharpens as Parliament Expels Cocalero Leader Evo Morales and US Funded Anti-Drug Forces Kill Again | Norwegian Commission Set to Call for Decriminalization of Drug Use, Possession | Swiss Hemp Activist Freed After International Outcry | White House Drug Office Pays $3.20 Million for Super Bowl Anti-Drug Ads Linking Drugs and Terrorism | Alerts: HEA Drug Provision, Bolivia, DEA Hemp Ban, Ecstasy, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana | Baltimore Job Opportunity with Injection Drug Use Study | The Reformer's Calendar
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