Elements of the Special Operations Tactical Unit (UTOP), Bolivia's elite anti-riot force, used tear-gas Nov. 19 against survivors of the country's military dictatorship who protested in front of the Government Palace in La Paz to demand indemnification for torture they suffered in the 1970s. "Here they repressed us just as in the time of the dictatorship," said the group's leader, Victoria López. The survivors had maintained a vigil outside the Justice Ministry for over a year, but decided to move to the Government Palace, on the city's central Plaza Murillo, after receiving no response. Communications Minister Amanda Dávila told the press that the protesters were not on the registered list of victims who are entitled to restitution. The government is recognizing a list compiled by the Association of Families of the Detained and Disappeared of the Dictatorships (ASOFAM), which the protesters charge is incomplete. (Erbol, Nov. 19) Survivors of the military dictatorships have long pressed the government of President Evo Morales on a full accounting for the abuses of the "dirty war" era.
On Oct. 19, a patrol of Bolivia's Joint Task Force, coordinating National Police and army troops in coca-eradication missions, was ambushed by unknown gunmen at Miraflores pueblo, Apolo municipality, in the coca-growing Yungas region, sparking a gun-battle that left four dead—three troops and a medic. Up to 30 were injured, but all the assailants seem to have escaped. Government vice-minister Jorge Pérez said the attack was "planned by people related to the narco-traffic," adding that the partially buried remains of a cocaine lab had been found nearby. Days later, Leopoldo Ramos, the public prosecutor appointed to investigate the case, said that "by the form of execution, for the Public Ministry it is probable that those who attacked in Miraflores are persons trained by Sendero Luminoso."
Bolivia's President Evo Morales said Oct. 28 that his country has achieved the conditions to obtain nuclear power for "pacific ends," and that Argentina and France would help "with their knowledge." He made his comments at the opening of a "Hydrocarbon Sovereignty" conference in Tarija. In May, Bolivia and Argentina signed an accord on nuclear cooperation. In an obvious reference to the United States, Morales anticipated political obstacles, saying that "some countries have [nuclear energy] but don't want to let others."
Six leaders of the dissident Aymara organization CONAMAQ held a hunger strike for four days at the doors of the Bolivian congress building last month, as the lower-house Chamber of Deputies debated a bill on assigning legislative seats to ethnicities and regions of the country. The strike was lifted after the law was approved Oct. 7. By then, one Aymara elder, Simón Antonio Cuisa from Charcas Qhara Qhara, Potosí, had been hospitalized. On breaking his strike after the vote, CONAMAQ leader Rafael Quispe said, "The plurinaitonal state is mortally wounded." CONAMAQ and its congressional allies—dissident members of the ruling Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), calling themselves the "free-thinkers" (librepensantes)—pledged to seek the law's reform. Dissident MAS lawmaker Rebeca Delgado spoke on the chamber floor in support of CONAMAQ's demands before the vote. CONAMAQ is demanding an increase in the number of congressional seats assigned to indigenous Bolivians from seven to 16, questioning the results of the 2012 census on which the apportioning was based. Chamber of Deputies president Betty Tejada (MAS) responded that the 130-seat body is already 70% indigenous. (Erbol, Oct. 31; Reuters, Oct. 8; BolPress, Cámara de Diputados, Oct. 7; Erbol, Oct. 5; La Prensa, La Paz, Oct. 6; Servindi, Oct. 4)
Moscow's state broadcaster Russia Today on Sept. 27 runs an interview with Bolivia's President Evo Morales from the network's Spanish-language affiliate, Actualidad, in which he called for Barack Obama to be tried for crimes against humanity and accused him of waging wars to secure US control of the world's energy resources. "[T]hey arranged for the president to be killed, and they usurped Libya's oil," he said—but it was clear his comments really concerned Syria. "Now they are funding the rebels that fight against presidents who don't support capitalism or imperialism," Morales told Actualidad's extremely problematic Eva Golinger. "And where a coup d'état is impossible, they seek to divide the people in order to weaken the nation—a provocation designed to trigger an intervention by peacekeeping forces, NATO, the UN Security Council. But the intervention itself is meant to get hold of oil resources and gain geopolitical control, rather than enforce respect for human rights."
On Sept. 13, the White House released its annual score card on other countries’ compliance with US drug policy demands, the presidential determination on major drug producing and trafficking countries. It identified 22 countries as "major drug transit and/or major illicit drug producing countries," but listed only three—Bolivia, Burma, and Venezuela—as having "failed demonstrably" to comply with US drug war objectives. Among those countries that are not listed as having "failed demonstrably" are the world's largest opium producer (Afghanistan), the world’s two largest coca and cocaine producers (Colombia and Peru), the leading springboard for drugs coming into the US (Mexico), and the weak Central American states that serve as lesser springboards for drug loads destined for the US. They are all US allies; Bolivia and Venezuela are not.
Leaders of the National Council of Marka and Ayllus of Qullasuyu (CONAMAQ) charged that their office in the Bolivian capital La Paz was attacked by followers of the ruling Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) on Sept. 16. CONAMAQ's jiliri apu mallku, or top leader, Félix Becerra, said the MAS followers, some armed with knives and clubs, stormed the office and attempted to occupy it. A group of MAS dissident lawmakers in Bolivia's congress, calling themselves the "free-thinkers" (librepensantes), joined Becerra in denouncing the apparent attack and calling for an investigation. But a rival CONAMAQ leader, Hilarión Mamani, denied Becerra's version of events and called for dialogue with the MAS. Becerra charges that MAS is attempting to divide CONAMAQ by setting up a parallel leadership within the organization. (El Diario, La Paz, Sept. 17; Eju!, Santa Cruz, Sept. 16)
Members of the Human Rights Commission of Bolivia's lower-house Chamber of Deputies announced Aug. 30 that they will visit three indigenous leaders from the contested Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS), who for weeks have refused to leave the remote rainforest reserve to avoid being arrested by National Police troops. Leaders Fernando Vargas, Adolfo Chávez and Pedro Nuny have been maintaining a vigil at the office of the TIPNIS Subcentral of the Indigenous Council of the South (CONISUR) since orders were issued for their arrest on charges related to a supposed attack on a rival CONISUR leader, Gumercindo Pradel. The three wanted leaders charge the government of President Evo Morales with attempting to divide the organization to undermine resistance to a planned highway through the reserve. (ANF, Aug. 30; NACLA, Aug. 27)