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Bolivian President Evo Morales accused before the OAS of the Pando Massacre

30 June 2009

Por: Gustavo Coronel

Fuerzas navales durante la toma del control de Pando

Fuerzas navales durante la toma del control de Pando

In September 2008, in the Bolivian province of Pando, more than a dozen Bolivian citizens were killed, about fifty were wounded and more than one hundred were driven into Brazil by the Bolivian military, where they were given Brazilian government protection. The events took place in the localities of El Porvenir and Cobija.

The Evo Morales government put the blame for the violence on the political opposition and put Pando’s prefect, Leopoldo Fernandez, in prison. An incipient regional organization without formal status, promoted by Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, UNASUR, sent a Commission to investigate the events and prepared a report supporting the Morales government and placing responsibility on Prefect Fernandez’s shoulders. The head of the Commission, Argentinean Rodolfo Matarrollo, is one of the founders of the People’s Revolutionary Army in his country and is clearly identified with leftist extremism. Matarrollo was a notorious  supporter of the “All for the Country” movement of Enrique Gorriarán, which undertook terrorist acts during the government of Raul Alfonsin, including the January 1989 attack of the military garrison of La Tablada, where dozens of innocent people were killed.

The biased version of UNASUR was deeply criticized in Bolivia and the region. This  led UNOAMERICA, an NGO made up of civil rights NGO’s from several Latin American countries, to conduct its own investigation with a team that included members from Venezuela, Colombia, Uruguay and Argentina. The results of this investigation have been put into a report presented June 23, 2009, to the Inter American Commission of Human Rights of the Organization of American States, OAS, in which the government of Evo Morales is accused to promote the Pando massacre, as part of a larger plan to impose a socialist-fascist state in Bolivia.

Background.

Bolivian presidential elections held in December 18, 2005 gave victory to Evo Morales. In parallel, however, the opposition candidates for prefects won in the so-called “media luna” region of the country: Santa Cruz, Pando, Beni and Tarija and, even, in Cochabamba and La Paz. Obviously this balance of political power prevented Morales from carrying out hi Chavez-promoted “socialism of the XXI century”. During a speech given in December 17, 2007, Alvaro Garcia Linera, a Bolivian terrorist who would become Vice-president of the country a year later, had already defined this potential outcome as “The catastrophic Tie”. In this speech Garcia Linera said that Bolivia could not stay for long divided between a neo-liberal and a revolutionary vision having equal support. “ Sooner or later” he said, “a confrontation will take place an only one of them would emerge victorious”. He added, quoting Marx, that the “catastrophic tie” was only an intermediate stage that could last for weeks, month or years but that eventually had to be broken. A plan was put in motion to break the tie. The events of Cochabamba, in January 8, 2007 when the Morales coca growers followers put the prefecture on fire and caused three dead were followed by the siege to Congress in Sucre, in November of the same year, when the 110 members of the opposition were barred from entering the barracks where the Morales side imposed a new constitution.

In January 2008 journalist from PAT TV Carlos Valverde unmasked the so-called “March to the East” plan, drawn up at the highest levels of government: the Ministry of the Presidency, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Justice, under the promotion of the Vice-president Garcia Linera. The events of Pando were part of this plan to impose the will of Morales on the autonomist provinces of the “media Luna”.

The Pando Massacre

The Pando massacre was foretold by Minister of the Presidency Juan Ramon Quintana. In August 7, 2008 this man traveled to Pando to announce the “burial” of Prefect Leopoldo Lopez. He said that Lopez would be placed in the last hole on earth, so that he could dwell together with the worms. He did not notice he was being filmed as he said all this.

In September 8, 2008, a meeting of the Federation of Rural Workers of Madre de Dios announced the departure of more than one hundred people from Riberalta (Beni province) to Cobija (Pando province). September 10 the rural leader of Morales followers, MAS,  said that members of his group from 40 communities of the region were waiting to go to Pando. Prefect Leopoldo Fernandez communicated with the local Army, Air Force and Police authorities to ask them to stop the march, to avoid confrontation but the authorities paid no attention to his requests. When the autonomists of El Porvenir tried to convince the peasants to return to their homes in the early hours of September 11, they were shot at in the sector of Cachuelita, wounding two autonomists: Roger Arellana and Edgar Vaca. In Tres Barracas, engineer Pedro Oshiro, in charge of digging trenches to stop the march, was shot at and killed by a sniper.

The marchers were organized according to military strategy, wearing bands of different colors indicating place of origin. According to witnesses some of the leading aggressors had a Caribbean accent, either Venezuelan or Cuban, definitely not Bolivian.

There is no doubt that: (a), the aggressions were planned; (b), the aggressors were not from Pando but from other areas of the country and, even, from other countries; (c), the aggressors were militarily organized and carried weapons: (d), the peasants wee directed by MAS militants, including Mayor Miguel Becerra, an opponent of Leopoldo Fernandez; (e), the aggressors kidnapped several autonomists and used them as human shields. None of the aspects above mentioned appear in the UNASUR report coordinated by Rodolfo Matarrollo.

Death at the Cobija Airport

Two days after the Pando massacre new aggression took place at the Cobija airport. Military personnel was sent there by the Morales government. The residents of the city congregated in the vicinity of the airport to protest the presence of the military and to wait for the arrival of a U.N. mission. Instead, more plane loads of military forces arrived. Journalists and a priest, Luis Antonio Rivero, tried to mediate and to avoid violence. However, one of the journalists was hot in a leg and Rivero, bible in hand, was shot and left moribund.

Almost three hundred people had to flee to Brazil, to ask for protection in the neighboring country. Most of them remain exiled today. The media were repressed and could not report events. However, the team from UNOAMERICA was able to make their own videos although of amateur quality.

This accusation will also be presented before the United Nations and other international instances.

This document will be presented before other international bodies in order to expose the Evo Morales government as a repressive, undemocratic regime. International public opinion must know that this is an authoritarian government, intent on eliminating the mostly middle class, professionals and businesspeople from the eastern provinces of the country, since they represent the modernizing, globalized portion of society that Morales detests. Genocide is not only the elimination of an ethnic or religious group but of any social group in a society. This is exactly what Evo Morales is trying to do in Bolivia.