Bolivia: Violence Continues, Mediation Commission Formed 10/19/01

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items

more...

recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed

SUBSCRIBE TODAY!!!

(bulletin from the Andean Information Network)

JOINT TASK FORCE MILITARIZES ISARZAMA AND LATER RETREATS

At approximately 7:00am on October 18, ten military transport trucks and nine nine pick-ups of soldiers entered Isarzama, Mamore Federation, where a tear gas canister fired at close range killed coca grower Nilda Escobar on October 16.

The Joint Task Force group of 800 soldiers was heavily armed with automatic weapons. Many wore masks or painted their faces to hide their identities. The forces completely occupied the community as a crowd of angry coca growers prepared for confrontation. Comments to the press by Joint Task Force commander Hernan Caprirolo, that he did not believe that Escobar died as a result of tear gas, although the canister was lodged deep into her forehead, exacerbated the conflict. The combined forces wounded one coca grower and detained three others.

The security forces eventually retreated as a result of intervention and mediation by the representative of the Human Rights' Ombudsman Chapare office, Godofredo Reinicke and Father Sperandio Ravasio, Villa Tunari parish priest.

Human rights monitors confirmed that members of the Expeditionary Task Force, salaried non-military eradication employees with inadequate training, provide security for the Joint Task Force. Use of inexperienced personnel raises the risk of excessive use of force during this extremely tense period.

There were also reports of confrontations in Tres Esquinas and Cinco Esquinas yesterday. AIN is working to confirm this information, as press accounts are often inaccurate.

COCA GROWERS OCCUPY ALTERNATIVE DEVELOPMENT PROJECT

A group of approximately 50 campesinos returning from Nilda Escobar's funeral took control of the offices of CIAPROT, an alternative development project near Entre Rios funded by USAID. Angry coca growers took over the offices, forced employees to flee and burned a motorcycle. Security forces announced their entrance into the region and campesinos eventually left the installation. Coca growers argued that they had received no concrete benefits from a project designed to serve their needs.

US AMBASSADOR'S THREAT TO CUT AID AGGRAVATES CONFLICT

Manuel Rocha, US ambassador, stated on Wednesday, October 17 that if Bolivia does not continue to carry out its anti-drug "Dignity Plan" (which stipulates forced eradication and the elimination of coca in the Chapare), the country will lose a significant amount of US funding. Rocha said, "If a time comes in which this commitment no longer exists, be assured, our aid will be different. The funds are there because of the commitment and without it the aid will diminish." This comments led Bolivian government officials to confirm that eradication efforts in the Chapare would continue, in spite of the social conflict generated.

POLICY PROVOKES POVERTY

Strong US pressure for the Bolivian government to comply with unrealistic and ambitious eradication targets holds strong in spite of violence and social unrest generated by these policies. US-funded and sponsored alternative development projects have failed to generate any viable income for the great majority of the 35,000 families affected by eradication in the region. Many families are forced to replant coca to insure their subsistence.

US emphasis on accelerated forced coca eradication to meet certification goals has greatly exacerbated the extreme poverty in the region. Hunger, intestinal parasites and infant mortality rates in the region have increased. It is important to note that many of the wounded during the present conflict show signs of acute malnutrition. When asked why coca growers have adopted a policy of active resistance to eradication efforts, many people responded that they feel that they have nothing left to lose.

SECURITY OFFICERS EXPRESS CONCERN

In response to Rocha's comments, some officers of the Joint Task Force requested immediate dialogue and mediation by the Human Rights Ombudsman's office, Catholic Church and the Permanent Human Rights Assembly. "The coca issue is a time bomb; if it's not controlled, we will have to lament the loss of many human lives -- coca growers and Joint Task Force," remarked one officer, who asked not to be identified, to El Diario.

HUMAN RIGHTS OMBUDSPERSON CONVOKES JOINT MEDIATION

Ana Maria Romero de Campero, head of the Human Rights Ombudsman's office, met with Catholic Church officials and the Permanent Human Rights Assembly to form a commission in an effort to facilitate joint mediation and conflict resolution in the Chapare. The three institutions expressed their concern for the spiral of violence in the Chapare and urged all parties involved to seek a peaceful solution. Romero de Campero stated that the decision of the Joint Task Force to withdraw troops from Isarzama was a positive sign of a willingness to negotiate.

This facilitating commission, made up of the three organizations, played a key role in dialogue resulting in the October 15, 2000 agreement between the Bolivian government and coca growers. The agreement ended over a month of road blockades and violent repression in the region. It is crucial that the international community support this inter-institutional effort at a time when widespread violence in the Chapare continues to be a very real possibility.

SECURITY FORCES DENOUNCE HARASSMENT

Col. Hernan Caprirolo, Joint Task Force Commander, and Cochabamba Prefect, Jose Orias, denounced to the press that coca growers fired rifles toward air and exploded dynamite around three eradication camps yesterday. They also said coca growers shot at a DIRECO (eradication control agency) pick-up on October 16.

COCA GROWERS MEET TODAY TO DETERMINE NEXT STEP

Members of the six coca growers' federations will meet today (10/19) in Lauca Ene to decide if and when road blockades will begin and whether or not they are willing to participate in further dialogue with government officials. Evo Morales told the press that blockades might begin as soon as tomorrow, October 20.

Federation members maintain their demand for one cato of coca per family, and until now, have rejected the counterproposal for a $930 payment and alternative development assistance for one year.

(For further information, contact the Andean Information Network at [email protected], visit http://www.scbbs-bo.com/ain/ or write to Casilla 4817, Cochabamba, Bolivia.)

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #207, 10/19/01 HEA Campaign Update and SSDP Conference | Drug Warriors Eye Colombia's FARC as Possible Target in War on Terror | Colorado Poll Finds War on Drugs Ineffective, Voters See Drugs as Health, Not Police Problem | San Diego Needle Exchange Program Inches Closer to Reality -- Close City Council Vote Looming | Bolivia: Violence Continues, Mediation Commission Formed | Another Court Rejects Cincinnati "Drug Zones" as Unconstitutional | Newsbrief: Senate Committee Votes to Lift DC Needle Exchange Funding Ban | Newsbrief: British Researchers Discover Kids Like to Party | Drug Testing Should Focus on Chronic, Not Casual Drug Users, Study Says | Newsbrief: Sales of Anti-Depressants Surge in New York and Washington | Alerts: HEA Drug Provision, Drug Czar Nomination, DEA Hemp Ban, Ecstasy Bill, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana | The Reformer's Calendar
Mail this article to a friend
Send us feedback on this article
This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Subscribe now!
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts

StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]