Prisoner of Bolivia
Bolivia Viciously Violates Refugee
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On July 5, 2011 - I was formally informed by the Bolivian government that I was denied the legal documents I deserve following the decision 461/2005 of the same institution regarding my status as refugee under the 1951 Geneva Convention. Most of the resolution appears in the picture above.
I was informed of that by Mr. Marcos M. Rasguido S. the lawyer of the Pastoral de Movilidad Humana (PMH from now on), the agency in charge of refugees in Bolivia. The same was corroborated shortly after by Ms Elizabeth Paucara de Soto, the social worker of the same institution. The first talk lasted less than five minutes since my voice broke; the second was even shorter, I left her office in agonizing pain, tightly holding my neck, which was destroyed in a Bolivian-Israeli attack against me in July 2009. Even the building where the agency is located is ironic. Not only because of the picture brought here and the role of Bolivia as it would be described in the following paragraphs, but also because until October 2003 the Israeli Embassy was placed on the 10th floor, just atop the PMH, the agency responsible for refugees in Bolivia. Following the violence in Bolivia that month, Israel withdrew its embassy. Yet, in one of my first visits to the PMH, they proudly showed me all the second-hand stuff they bought from the Israelis. The fools had even purchased electronic equipment. The excuse used by the Bolivian government for denying me documents is that without an address, they can't print a document. Without the documents stolen in 2009, I am a prisoner in Bolivia (see Roy Tov Declared Political Prisoner in Bolivia). Hotels are not accepted as addresses despite being closely monitored by the police. The last body gets daily lists of the guests, and makes regular checks at odd hours. I informed them I have no possibility of renting a place here; the landlord would be recruited by the local Gestapo in a matter of minutes. "That's the only choice," was the answer.
From August 20, 2011, I can't check into hotels or to perform any other acts requiring formal identification (that means almost everything in Bolivia). The local government is purposely killing me; sleeping on the streets here is suicidal.
The Bolivian Trick
The Cross of Bethlehem narrative ends a couple of months before my arrival at Bolivia. Despite several oblique mentions of my getting political refuge, the book barely touches the events between my being shot at in Jingong, China, and my arrival at Bolivia. There were several reasons for that, most of them related to the local authorities’ polite request to avoid mention the terror I experienced in other South American countries. I arrived at Bolivia in February 2004, just after the Israeli embassy left (that saved my life). Soon, I found a Lutheran congregation that welcomed me. In October 2004 I applied to be recognized as a political and religious refugee. Following dramatic events I was recognized as such in August 2005, as the document above testifies. Evo Morales was elected shortly after; on paper this promised an even more comfortable environment. Informally, the US is the largest Bolivian sugar customer.
Until I got the refugee status, everything was fine. Shortly after, the subtle surveillance I experienced until then became oppressive, and of criminal nature. It was so bad and open, that a military officer (R.G. in The Cross of Bethlehem) didn’t hesitate to tell me: “Israel asked to keep an eye on you.” In January 2009, Bolivia cut its diplomatic relations with Israel, due to the terrorist acts committed by the latter in Gaza. I thought things would change, but on July 2009, I was savagely attacked by a Bolivian-Israeli terror team.
Knowing this, the situation becomes clear. At certain point Israel approached people from at least two Bolivian organizations and began pouring money. Corruption is a plague in Bolivia; I’ve seen even church members openly accepting bribes without blinking. When I was teaching, I often touched the issue of ethics. Not even one Bolivian ever refused – or even questioned – my offer of $1 per week for him – or her – informing on a close friend for a week. “You just killed your bother,” I invariably told the smiling clown. With $100, Israel can hire a hundred watchers for a week. People with neither hearts nor compassion; cold Altiplano rocks filling up their chest cavities. I had become a business of the Bolivian military intelligence and police. “Keep him alive but barely so,” became the state-terrorists policy towards me.
This is the moment to add some references to the local situation, which though not directly connected to the case show the Bolivian attitude to the rule of law:
At the beginning of 2008, the Bolivian news was filled with evidence of widespread political activity by the police force, as described in The Cross of Bethlehem. Eventually, the local police officially confirmed their surveillance of politicians and journalists. The exposure was the result of internal wars between commandants of rival surveillance units. The officers’ public statements showed the heavy influence of their personal interests in the decision to take the fight to the newspapers. It also exposed their basic disregard of the law and its principles. Probably, these events played a role in the 2008 widespread protests which began a bit later, on August 19, and reached their peak in what is locally known as the “Bolivian 9/11,” when protesters in Pando were shot under the local governor’s orders. Following the expulsion of American Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg things calmed down quickly. Roughly at the same time the DEA, which was eradicating coca while the CIA supported the plantations, was expelled by President Morales. While reading this, it is difficult not to recall Philip Agee’s INSIDE THE COMPANY: CIA DIARY, where a former CIA officer describes how the police forces of two countries in South America – Uruguay and Ecuador – are practically owned by “The Company.” These Bolivian events more than support the claim that a similar situation exists here. I expand on these in The Cross of Bethlehem II: Back in Bethlehem.
Since President Evo Morales initially claimed that this event was a smear campaign designed to make him look bad, I’ll begin with its end. On June 23, 2011, General René Sanabria and one of his accomplices, Juan Marcelo Foronda Azero, pled guilty to charges of drug trafficking and conspiracy in a Miami courtroom. At the time of his capture, while transporting 144 kilograms of cocaine (February 14, 2011, in Panama, by the DEA – was this their revenge for their expulsion in 2008?), General Sanabria was the Director of Central Intelligence for Bolivia. Before that he was the commander of the special anti-drug police force in Bolivia (Fuerza Especial de Lucha Contra el Narcotráfico, aka FELCN). He also faces charges in Chile where he was filmed by undercover agents offering to sell them over $5 million dollars of cocaine. Until then, General Sanabria had been a very close close adviser of President Morales.
General Sanabria wasn’t working alone. Other police officers are facing trial in the affair; this tends to be the rule and not the exception. Shortly afterwards, President Evo Morales named Colonel Ciro Farfán as new general commander of the National Police, giving him ninety days to eliminate corruption in the force. Farfán himself was relieved of duty on May 19 due to his involvement in a fraudulent license plate ring at the Directorate for the Prevention of Vehicle Theft; in an incident closely related to the "chuto cars" affair. “Autos chutos” can be translated as “false cars” or “bad cars” and it refers to the many thousands of cars – a significant percentage of the cars in Bolivia - which had been stolen abroad and smuggled into Bolivia.
For many years, these cars moved around with fake papers. Double documentation is standard here: “Want good documents? Pay a bribe. You don’t want to pay? No problem, we’ll eventually find you with the cheaper falsified papers and you’ll pay for that.” Every little formality is transformed into a business; the “chuto” cars became a large business for many people, inside and outside the government. This year, for various reasons, amnesty was provided to the “chuto” cars, generating protests by owners of legal cars and by adjacent governments claiming Bolivia was legalizing crime. Thousands of cars were legalized; many others were not. “Confuse and rule” is the only law here.
Countries seldom are coherent organizations. At the end of the day, the public servant decides as per his – or her – interests. Nobody receiving a salary – and other benefits - from a country can claim being impartial on an issue related to a citizen. A good example is the “autos chutos” of 2011. It can be translated as “false cars” or “bad cars” and it refers to the many thousands of cars – a significant percentage of the cars in Bolivia, which had been robbed abroad and smuggled into Bolivia. Many of them are unsafe. The reason for this is simple, most Bolivians can’t even dream of buying a new car in the regular way; they are too expensive. The main problem is with cars brought from Chile, but also Peru and Argentina had become unwilling suppliers. For many years, these cars moved around with fake papers.ouble documentation is standard here: “Want good documents? Pay a bribe. You don’t want to pay? No problem, we’ll eventually find you with the cheaper falsified papers and you’ll pay for that.” Every little formality is transformed into a business; the “chuto” cars became a large business for many people, inside and outside the government. For various reasons, this year amnesty was provided to the “chuto” cars, generating protests by owners of legal cars and adjacent governments claiming Bolivia was legalizing crime. Thousands of cars were legalized; many others not. “Confuse and rule” is the only law here.
A large country, Bolivia features two main zones: the Andean High Plateau and the Amazonian Basin lowlands. Paved roads are scarce in the country; most denizens stick to their hometowns. As such, the highland and lowland cultures are quite different. The two are separated by high valleys, which are the cross of the matter. Yungas is an area of high valleys north of La Paz; it is the traditional source of coca leaves. About a generation ago, miners left the Andean High Plateau and moved to Chapare (Evo Morales is closely related to this group; even now he is head of the coca union), where they introduced the coca. The coca from Yungas is traditionally aimed for local consumption (i.e. is not transformed into drugs, but chewed as leaves). The coca from Chapare is a different story.
Yungas belongs to La Paz – not the country’s capital city, but the seat of government – and thus tightly attached to the country’s heart. Chapare is very close to Santa Cruz, the main industrial center (yet, it hosts just very-light industry, mainly food packaging). Moreover, Chapare provides access to backdoor roads into Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. For years, the US was very active in the area. The DEA eradicated coca, while the CIA helped shipping it. Evo Morales ended the ridiculous situation and apparently tempted the Americans into doing what they are best at: messing in other cultures’ freedoms. A secessionist movement comprising the lowlands became violent in 2008 and didn’t stop until a bit after the American ambassadors’ expulsion. In 2011, nobody remembers it. The Republic of Santa Cruz – promoted American Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg – was never created. This strengthens the theory of American help to the secessionists. After all, the CIA business was to benefit from the breaking apart of Bolivia; the troublemakers (in the American eyes) in la Paz would then lose control over Chapare regardless the final location of the area (a rainforest on a very broken terrain, it would offer inconspicuous access to the lowlands). The CIA would have got free access to the sweet crop as a secessionist thanks for the help in the independence struggle. Yet, in 2012, the issue was revived from another angle, when the Bolivian government failed creating a smuggling road to brazil, following gmassive protests (see Evo Morales, TIPNIS and Illusions of Green).
On June 18, 2004, I got a major lesson on Bolivian culture. Benjamín Altamirano – the mayor of Ayo Ayo, a village about 80 kilometers from La Paz – was lynched and burned by the 7000 strong indigenous population he governed. On April 2003 he had issued a warning about the Bolivian authorities failing to protect him – there was a history of violence against him – but nobody listened. The images brought in this article are soft when compared with the ones published in local newspapers; there horrifying close-ups of the burned face - charred bones covered by bits of dark meat – were shown. It was the most dramatic application of what is known here as “Community Justice,” an extra-judicial type of justice which sticks to ancestral practices. More often than not it ends with soft humiliations like public whippings or humiliating donkey-rides. Community Justice is legal under the Bolivian law and a very good reason to avoid indigenous settlements. Your picnic there may get ruined even without a sudden rain.
Following the event, Mallku Felipe Quispe told IPS news that there would be more and more lynchings because “the laws of our countries are no good, we don't use them.” (Mallku is a term in the Aymara language referring to a regional leader.) A close ally and occasional rival of President Evo Morales - Felipe Quispe - heads the Pachakuti Indigenous Movement (MIP) and has been general secretary of the United Union Confederation of Working Peasants of Bolivia (CSUTCB). In 1984, he was one of the leading organizers of the Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army, a failed armed insurrection against the government. He has worked for the establishment of an indigenous republic, which would take the Inca name "Kollasuyu," in the Aymara-majority regions of Bolivia. As a true insider, his words reflect the frightening reality there.
Years passed by and the event was forgotten. Regional leaders occasionally got humiliating punishments – one of them was forced to make adobe bricks for a house – and the lynching of 2004 seemed like an extraordinary event in the heated days that preceded the dramatic win of Evo Morales in the 2005 elections. Then, on May 23, 2010, four policemen were lynched in Uncia (in Potosi, Southern Bolivia) after attempting to request bribe from the denizens of this insignificant village; they were beaten, and while still alive, sprayed with gasoline and lit on fire. The village was a stopping point on the way for illegal “chuto” cars en route from Chile to La Paz.
An important lesson of the events – to be remembered and cherished in these days of “sovereign humanist countries” - is that states are not always and automatically right. Their officials may be wrong; their policies may be wrong. They may be even wrong and corrupt. What can one do when meeting state injustice? Bolivian peasants refuse to accept such reality. Can we learn something from them? I have already reported on institutional violence (several times, see the refugee section) towards me by the state that offered me refuge in bad faith. Due to the complex nature of this article, let me emphasize I do not sanction violence – physical, social or mental – under any circumstances.
A Plea to Oppose the Rule of Evil
Bolivia may not be a CIA country of the type described by Philip Agee, but it looks like a light variation on the theme, where the USA has become the client-state of a group growing a crop the USA finds indispensable.
Under these circumstances, I want to ask Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, my American lawyer and all the people and organizations that have contacted the Bolivian government on my behalf due to my being a political prisoner and victim of state violence here: how can you possibly accept any claim by the Bolivian government?
There is nothing I can do from here except to ask my readers that if they think I have the right to live and present an alternative option to Israel’s Reign of Terror then please contact the nearest Bolivian consulate and ask to stop the institutional violation of human rights against me. Please request the return of all documents and items robbed from me with the collaboration of Bolivian authorities in February 2006, May 2009 and July 2009. Provide the following ID: Refugee 461/2005 for my proper identification. Please keep the conversations and emails polite as Bolivians tend to attack me physically and violently every time something they dislike is published.
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