Cannabis Sacrament Minister
Joined: 22 Apr 2003
|Posted: Tue Dec 16, 2003 5:03 pm Post subject: A week in Bolivia
Herewith a report of an eye-witness of what's currently going on in
Bolivia, just two months after the massive uprising that forced
ex-president Goni Sanchez de Lozada to resign:
Monday 8 december, the new government of president Carlos Mesa announced it
would no longer pursue the deadly US backed "coca zero" policy for Bolivia
but would instead: (1) determine for itself the true levels of coca
production and legal use of same in the country and neighboring Argentina;
and (2) refocus its anti-drugs efforts away from forced eradication and
more toward interdiction (of drugs and precursors). Great news!
Tuesday 9 december, US Under-Secretary of Defense Gonzalo Arredondo arrived
in Bolivia (accompanied by high level Southern Command officers) to "warn"
the Bolivian Government that it must sign the controversial extradiction
agreement or face loss of aid. At the same time, US Sect. of Defense
Rumsfeld is warning neighboring countries that Bolivia is turning into a
terrorist state, especially since the October demonstrations that led to
ex-President "Goni" resigning and seeking refuge in the US.
Thursday 11 december, 15 District Attorneys from La Paz, Sucre and Santa
Cruz (apparently the judicial branch is still "independent" from the
executive in Bolivia but questionably not so from the US Government)
descended upon the Chapare and in pre-dawn raids arrest 8 coca leaders and
ransack their modest homes in search of terrorist "evidence." Many other
cocalero leaders were on the arrest list but managed to escape detention.
The principal charge against all is that of terrorist links to Colombian
national, Francisco Cortes, detained in Bolivia on April 10, 2003 as an
alleged member of his country's ELN (National Liberation Army). Everyone I
know in Colombia insists that Cortes is NOT a member of the ELN. The
"evidence" gathered against the 8 arrested cocaleros by the 15 "diligent"
DAs included seeds, machetes, pamphlets, videos. When asked if they knew
Cortes, the detained replied affirmatively - via the press. The detained
were moved to La Paz.
Friday 12 december, several of the "most wanted" and not yet detained
managed to get to La Paz to present themselves voluntarily to the assigned
judge, but arrived after the proceedings had finished. What the judge did
declare was that the "evidence" presented by the 15 DAs against the 8
arrested was insufficient (and in some cases some of the evidence wasn't
even from the previous day's raids).
All are now released on bail and must present themselves every Monday to
the District Attorney in Chimore (Chapare) until further notice.
There can be little doubt that last week's events were backed by the US
Government in an effort to undermine the new Mesa government and its
efforts to seek just solutions to the social, economic and political
problems facing the country.
By George Ann Potter, Cochabamba, Bolivia
EUROPEAN NGO COUNCIL ON DRUG POLICY
Lange Lozanastraat 14
Tel. 00 32 (0)3 237 7436
Fax. 00 32 (0)3 237 0225
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