(The following information was distributed
by the Andean Information Network on September 27.)
In response to the failure of alternative
development to provide subsistence for the approximately 35,000 coca growing
families affected by forced eradication in the Chapare region and the government's
failure to completely comply with agreements signed in October, Chapare
coca growers have again begun to resist US-funded eradication efforts:
Tensions in the region continued to increase
throughout September. Coca growers began to surround eradication
camps throughout the region, provoking indiscriminate use of force (including
tear gas, rubber pellets and bullets) by security forces:
The first week of August, in El Dorado Ibuelo,
over 300 coca growers blocked the road to impede eradication by the Expeditionary
Task Force, a new force of over 500 hired eradicators without adequate
training. Mediation by representatives of the Human Rights Ombudsman's
office avoided the use of violence, and the forces retreated.
On September 13, 300-500 coca growers in Vueltadero
in the Carrasco Federation attempted to impede eradication by members of
the Joint Task Force. Military and police eventually retreated.
Joint Task Force commanders frequently denounce
harassment by coca growers, including gunshots, booby traps and verbal
aggression. In early September, two soldiers received gunshot wounds
from unidentified shooters. Last weekend, Joint Task Force commanders
denounced to the press that coca growers had kidnapped two of its members
for four hours. The five campesinos initially detained were later
released for lack of evidence.
In San Miguel, Carrasco Federation, on September
25 a member of the Joint Task Force shot Felix Marin Villarroel (15 years
old) in the left calf above the ankle. The medical report by the
forensic specialist of the Ministry of Justice confirms that the bullet
wound fractured his tibia. Marin is currently receiving medical attention
in Santa Cruz.
On September 27, members of the Joint Task
Force fired live ammunition at a group of journalists entering Loma Alta,
in the Carrasco Federation, where coca growers had surrounded an eradication
camp. Forces shot Ramon Perez (42 years old), a campesino working
as a guide for the journalists. The bullet passed through his left
hand and into his pelvis and abdomen. Perez died while security forces
transported him to the UMOPAR clinic in Chimore. At this time, security
forces are reinforcing troops in Isinuta (Isiboro Secure Park), one of
the largest military camps in the Chapare. Government forces claim
that coca growers have surrounded five of the eight military camps.
Evo Morales, leader of the six Chapare
coca grower's federations, has announced that coca growers will initiate
road blockades on October 1. Campesinos in Mizque, Totora and Aiquile,
plan to simultaneously block roads in that valley region. These actions
could effectively block highways between Santa Cruz and Cochabamba as well
as the road between Sucre and Cochabamba.
Meanwhile, an announcement last December
by the Bolivian government that it had completely eradicated all the coca
in the Chapare region turned out to be premature. A month later,
the government admitted that as a result of a satellite error, an additional
600 hectares had been missed.
On September 9, 2001 the Bolivian officials
stated to the press that over 6,626 hectares in the Chapare and 14 hectares
in the La Paz Yungas have been eradicated so far this year. Faced
with exacerbated extreme poverty as a result of accelerated forced eradication,
Chapare campesinos continue to plant coca in an attempt to cover their
basic subsistence needs.
The Andean Information Network urges that
the international community:
For further information, contact the Andean
Information Network at [email protected],
or write to Casilla 4817, Cochabamba, Bolivia.
-- END --
Insist that Bolivian security forces strictly
adhere to the Basic Principles on the Use of Force by Law Enforcement Officials
and the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials.
Pressure the Bolivian Government to guarantee
the freedom of the press and the safety of human rights monitors and allow
them to work without impediments or harassment.
Insist that Bolivian security officers and
legal representatives carry out all investigations within the established
legal framework, respecting due process and international human rights
Insist that security officers who violate
these norms face appropriate legal consequences in the civilian court system,
instead of internal disciplinary action or trial in military tribunals.
Insist that the US government withhold funding
for any US-funded unit of the security forces (such as the Joint Task Force)
that commit gross human rights violations when there is no evidence that
sufficient steps are being taken to bring the individuals responsible to
justice (as stipulated by the Leahy Amendment).
Urge all parties involved to seek a peaceful
resolution to the present conflict through dialogue.
Issue #204, 9/28/01
Battle Over Civil Liberties Heats Up as Congress Ponders Anti-Terrorism Act | Help Save Politically Incorrect! | 9th Circuit Under Scrutiny: Supreme Court to Review Public Housing Ruling, Prosecutors Force Circuit to Reconsider Sentencing Ruling | Terror Crackdown on Border Puts Kibosh on Smuggling -- For Now | Student Activism Spurs Appalachian State University Chancellor to Join HEA Drug Provision Repeal Cause | Nevada Medical Marijuana Law Goes Into Effect Next Week, But Program Lacks Funds, Simple Possession Reduced to Misdemeanor | While Reformers Brood, Politicos Make Drug-Terror Connection | Bolivia Forced Eradication Provoking Civil Instability, Indiscriminate Violence by Government Security Forces | Philly Anti-Poverty Group Does "Drug War Reality Tour," More Planned | Hemp Industry Advocates Launch TestPledge Program | Marijuana Prohibition Not Strong Deterrent, Study Says -- Personal Preference and Health Concerns Primary Reasons for Abstention | From the Archives: Better Uses for Law Enforcement Personnel | Action Alerts: John Walters, HEA, Ecstasy Bill, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana | Job Opportunity: Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, DC | The Reformer's Calendar
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