Gas in La Paz
Massive Protests against Evo Morales
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Bolivian protests are often violent. This country is organized into powerful work unions and features two especially powerful groups: miners and cocaleros, coca-growers. The last elected president before Morales was Goni, a representative of the miners’ oligarchy. Evo Morales—the current president—is even now head of the Cocaleros Confederation. In 2005, La Paz almost exploded with the dynamite sticks used by the miners to protest against Goni. Eventually, he ran away from the country; after two transitional presidents, the cocaleros took over. In 2011, the dynamite sticks reappeared on the streets, but this time directed at Evo Morales, who succeeded in redefining the state as the Plurinational State of Bolivia, but failed to help even one of the suffering creatures of God populating his coca-paradise. His attempt to reform the judicial system by letting the people vote for their judges—a first-ever event that took place on October 2011—ended in disaster (see Detaining Democracy). One of the reasons for this dramatic attempt was the disastrous shape of the local judicial system. The average trial in Bolivia takes six years, and as of now there are 25,000 delayed trials in a country of roughly 10 million people. Most readers from countries self-defined as “Western-democracies” will find a similar situation in their countries. This type of society is notorious for providing justice just for corporations and the rich; essentially the “Occupy Wall Street” and “We are the 99%” movements include implicit claims towards the condition of the judicial system in the USA and other countries.
Shortly after the Judicial Elections, on November 23, 2011, another bombshell landed on Bolivian media. The Permanent Assembly of Human Rights in Bolivia (APDBH) and the Defender of the People (“Defensor del Pueblo,” a formal body of the Bolivian government which is in charge of defending human rights against abuses by the state) announced that they want to prosecute 18 officials, including former Interior Minister Sacha Llorenti, for torturing the people who participated in the TIPNIS protests during September 25 and 26, 2011. The claims included the tying up of aboriginal leaders for many hours, denying them food and water. Many of them were bleeding due to wounds caused by police officers and were left untreated. There are testimonies and evidence that the decision to behave in such a brutal fashion came directly from Evo Morales, Interior Minister Sacha Llorenti and the Police Chief.
I won’t even claim to have compiled a full list of the subsequent events. More often than not, the protests were in the form of long marches descending from the Andean High Plateau and advancing through the city’s main venue. They disturb traffic for a couple of hours, throw a few sticks of dynamite, and then go back home. On other occasions, the events were more disturbing, as in the case of the February 2012 disability protest; two distressing pictures from it are reproduced on this page. One month later, the protests of the relatives of disappeared people, began in front of the Ministry of Justice. Their tents are in place even now, oddly arranged by their respective geographical areas of origin, as if they were part of a military operation. During Bolivia’s latest brutal military dictatorship, the “generalitos”—“little generals,” a derogatory term—kidnapped people from their homes in ambulances; the kidnapped disappeared forever. Thirty years later, their families still cry for them, while the generalitos still enjoy generous state-pensions.
In April 2012, the “butchers’” strike begun. The health sector workers have since then been blocking the downtown area every noon, protesting their working conditions. In recent days, this has deteriorated into violent confrontations between the police and the protesters. Downtown La Paz smells of tear gas during that time of the day. Yesterday, May 16, one policeman was wounded after a protester threw an ignited gas grenade back at him.
Please don’t cry for the “butchers.” The reason for their local nickname is the common practice of infecting patients with odd diseases and then asking for a “regalito” (“a little gift,” a bribe) in order to save the patient’s life. During my stay here, I met two such cases. The porter of one of the Methodist churches in town was hospitalized with an appendicitis infection. After surgery, he had a severe infection in his intestines. His family failed to raise the requested bribe. Soon afterwards, he died at the age of forty, leaving behind a widow and a toddler. One of the members of the Suma Qhana band—Julio Tito—was hospitalized with a minor problem in his digestive system. He came out of the local hospital with intestinal tuberculosis. His father runs a small credits agency; thus he could pay the bribe and Julio was saved. The picture above, showing the butchers crucified, is highly ironic. Let’s remind them that Judas Iscariot hung himself, he wasn’t crucified.
In between the other protests turning La Paz into chaos, the transport workers found the opportunity to strike, blocking the city with parked buses; the comic result is shown in the first paragraph on this page.
Evo Morales’ violence and insensitivity are neither new nor limited to the poor. All his political opponents are ruthlessly persecuted. Between the fallen miners’ oligarchy and the Morales coca-oligarchy, Bolivia was led by Eduardo Rodriguez Veltzé, a Supreme Court Justice who had no intentions of staying in power. Yet, in a show of his grandeur, as soon as he gained power Evo Morales was quick to place charges of treason on this astonished man. The situation was so ridiculous that the charges were dropped shortly afterwards. In the 2009 elections, Manfred Reyes Villa reached the second place after Evo Morales. The latter felt so threatened by a man that got just over a quarter of the vote and less than half of what Morales got, that Morales began a judicial process against Villa for fraud. Manfred Reyes Villa was forced to escape Bolivia on foot to Peru, and then seek refuge in the USA. Evo Morales government is now disintegrating amidst massive protests; yet, all alternative leaders have been chased out of the country by Evo Morales. A civil war may await Bolivia in the near future.
"But Evo is an aboriginal leader! You are exaggerating, Evo is an ‘eco’ leader, as green as the coca leaves financing him, he is pure, pure, pure!" the voices of the West will keep nagging. Yet, the truth is that Evo is as pure as Zionist and American money make him. In the eyes of the self-proclaimed democratic West, opening drug-trafficking roads (the TIPNIS) is pure, legal and democratic, while a protesting cripple is a disgusting sight, not worth of defense, not even worthy of a report.
Matthew 25:34-40 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
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