Bolivian unions mobilise against ‘right-wing coup plotters’

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FELIPA MONTENEGRO (centre) addressing a press conference in Santa Cruz

FELIPA MONTENEGRO the leader of the Bartolina Sisa Movement, which represents the rights of rural Indigenous women in Bolivia denounced that she and her family received death threats last Tuesday night from far-right groups that operate in the department of Santa Cruz, eastern Bolivia.

‘We are in danger’ she said at a press conference in which she stated that the threats come from people linked to politicians such as Santa Cruz governor Fernando Camacho, the Civic Committee president Romulo Calvo, and the Gabriel Moreno University rector Vicente Cuellar.

The leader of Bartolina Sisa asked international human rights organisations to monitor what is happening in Santa Cruz, a territory where the stoppage called by the elites affects and threatens the most humble people.

Montenegro, who also revealed that drones fly over her house as a form of intimidation, is one of the social leaders who have opposed the ‘regional strike’ called by the same politicians who supported the 2019 coup against President Evo Morales.

Over the last month, the resistance to the far-right in Santa Cruz claimed the life of Juan Pablo Taborga, who was beaten to death in Puerto Quijarro.

‘We are being bullied. It is time to take to the streets to demonstrate against those who believe they own Santa Cruz. We are tired of being intimidated,’ Santa Cruz Farmers Federation leader Franklin Vargas said at the press conference.

On Sunday, the Bolivian Labour Union (COB) and the organisations belonging to the Pact of Unity (PU) announced that they will carry out a national mobilisation against the stoppage promoted by the right-wing opposition in the department of Santa Cruz.

‘We announce a national mobilisation against these coup plotters because we can no longer allow one more death of our brothers from Santa Cruz, they are not alone.

The Ministry of Hydrocarbons reported that more than 180 tankers are stranded due to the right-wing strike in Santa Cruz without being able to circulate and supply fuel to 173 service stations.

‘Since Saturday we had a plan that was shattered. The tankers left the storage plants until Friday but they can no longer return due to the blockades, we cannot make the shipments,’ they said.

They demanded that there be no impunity in the case of Julio Taborga, the worker who opposed the stoppage and was beaten to death by far-right extremists in Puerto Quijarro municipality.

The Santa Cruz department, which is an agro-exporting zone with a subtropical climate, has established itself as the main site of operation of far-right organisations.

Previously, the Bolivian government of Luis Arce decided to postpone the 2023 population census until next year due to the lack of adequate technical and logistical conditions for its implementation. The population census is an administrative tool used to distribute federal financial resources among Bolivian subnational governments.

Taking advantage of the postponement for political purposes, the Santa Cruz governor, Luis Fernando Camacho, who supported the 2019 coup, called for mobilisations against the national government.

The following is a statement from By: MIRIAM AMANCAY COLQUE of the Bartolina Sisa movement in the UK

‘UNDER the excuse of the Census 2023, fresh attacks are happening in Bolivia endorsed by the national and international right-wing amplified by the mercenary press, headed by the nefarious Nazi-type coup plotter, Santa Cruz governor Luis Fernando Camacho.

Together with Romulo Calvo of the Civic Committee Pro-Santa Cruz, the rector Victor Cuellar and the crucena elite, they are intending to apply ‘the recipe of the empire’ to overthrow the Luis Arce’s government, democratically elected in October 2020 with more than 55% of the vote.

The MAS-IPSP defeated the coup plotters led by Jeanine Anez, Arturo Murillo Prijic, Fernando Lopez and the rest of corrupt people who usurped power to massacre, looted the state coffers, embezzled strategic companies, increased the narco traffickers, implanted the rapacious neo-liberalism and took over large extensions of land.

But who is Luis Fernando Camacho? He is a supremacist, fascist, racist, a separatist who dreams of dividing Bolivia and an extremist who for many years led the paramilitary Nazi-type group ‘Crucenista Youth Union’ (UJC).

His hatred towards indigenous people oozes from his pores. On the last anniversary of Santa Cruz, Camacho refused to give the floor to then President David Choquehuanca and denied the raising of the Wiphala, a national symbol recognised by our Constitution.

The other xenophobic, supremacist Romulo Calvo of the Pro-Santa Cruz Civic Committee did the same turning his back to elected authorities and Councillor sisters who wear the ‘pollera’ skirt when greeting to other local officials and Calvo ended up using a spray.

Romulo Calvo is also the one who a few years ago promoted the construction of the apartheid wall in Santa Cruz, wanting to segregate the brave and courageous residents of Plan 3000.

In their supposedly ‘peaceful’ forced civic strike/blockade, they target and attack the dark skinned people who are the indigenous, screaming racist, discriminatory insults: ‘collas … get out of here! … Go back to where you come from! … Indians, savages, beasts’ etc.

The irony is that, after more than two years, justice remains negligent by not prosecuting the little dictator Camacho who had carte blanche to become governor.

They block the streets, prohibiting the free transit to the most humble sectors that need to feed their families. With solid sticks and whips with nails they hit and kick women and men causing serious injuries just for walking the streets.

They block emergency services such as ambulances and as if they were police, they take on the task of requisitioning mobile phones and other belongings while doing a huge business charging at each site, stripping the few coins that the working people have.

The civic dictators instruct the people ‘to go on foot or by bicycle from 6am to 11am to re-supply food, prohibiting the use of vehicles’.

What authority do these corrupt fascists have to subject the population in that way? And what authority do they have to fill their mouths speaking ‘on behalf of the Bolivian people’?

Camacho and his far-right entourage act as owners and masters of Santa Cruz. They have at their service mafia paramilitaries from the UJC who intimidate, beat, injure, murder and rejoice at the pain and mourning of the families. That is the attitude of Camacho and his gang of thugs.

And while they subject the working people to a ‘forced confinement and blockade’ the Santa Cruz business oligarchy, that finances this infamous blockade, has a freedom to travel around and work without disruption.

The Great Cabildo del Pueblo decided to carry out a siege of the city of Santa Cruz, if the civic criminal blockade is not lifted. The people in resistance say: ‘if the civics subject us to hunger and take away our daily bread, let the big businessmen also learn to feel what a true strike is’.

Bolivians have woken up and as the true owners of their ancestral lands, they will no longer accept masters, as the Santa Cruz elite yearn to return to their past colonial, republican, neoliberal and fascist regime.

In retribution, Camacho and his gang of thugs issued death threats against union leaders and their families.

We denounce at the international level that sister Felipa Montenegro, Executive Secretary of the Federation of Indigenous, Native and Peasant Women ‘Bartolina Sisa’ – Santa Cruz; Rolando Borda, Executive of the Departmental Workers Centre of Santa Cruz have been threatened with death along with their families for defending the right to work, health, education.

The Minister of Public Works, Engineer Edgar Montano, has also been threatened with ‘burning down his house’. They point to Luis F. Camacho, Romulo Calvo and Vicente Cuellar as responsible.

The COB condemned these threats, offered support to its leaders and in an extraordinary meeting they will evaluate the entire current situation.

In a sign of unity, today the MAS-IPSP, the Bolivian Workers Union – COB and the Unity Pact met with President Arce to give him their unanimous support. There are voices asking the government to nationalise the elite’s enterprises and also some exports have been suspended for the moment.

This forced strike/blockade called by the Santa Cruz elite causes daily losses of $40 million, affecting the economic reactivation and the poorest.

Bolivian people want a purely technical Housing and Population Census that meets international standards. The government has repeatedly invited Camacho and the civic groups to dialogue and they refused to attend.

They came to the last meeting only to launch their vile, offending and discriminatory remarks against people who attended the Gran Cabildo del Pueblo and left the meeting abruptly unable to sustain their proposal.

President Luis Arce has convened a ‘Plurinational Meeting for a Census with Consensus’ on Friday, October 28 in Cochabamba, with the attendance of Governors, Mayors, authorities of Indigenous/Originary/Peasant Autonomies, Autonomous Region of Chaco and rectors of public universities.

Camacho, in a clear cowardly and obstructionist attitude said that he would not attend the Plurinational Meeting since ‘it is only a meeting of Masistas’.

A coup plot is in sight. The right and ultra-right are reorganising with foreign support. The visit of former Anez’s minister and now Mayor of La Paz Ivan Arias to Camacho and company, is no coincidence.

Luis F. Camacho and his supremacist, fascist and racist gang are a curse on our people.

They do not want the Census, their objective is to strike a blow, assault power again and open the doors to transnationals to plunder our resources such as lithium. The Yankee empire has its eyes firmly set on Central and South America, as the US General Laura Richardson of the Southern Command stated.

Faced with this new reactionary anti-democratic onslaught, the people united, organised will have to actively mobilise in the streets, neighbourhoods, countryside and cities to defend the democratic government of Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca and above all our sovereignty and firmly say to the conspirators, murderers, coup plotters, fascists and racists: we are millions and fascism shall not pass!’

Resistance!

No to the criminal civic blockade!

Jail to Camacho and his fascist mob!