Eyewitness account on recent events in Cochabamba

Paula Pfoeffer

January 9

Im going to quickly report events from the city of Cochabamba today, January 8 2007. This morning a peaceful march was held in the city, on the Plaza Principal to protest against the Governer of Cochabamba, Manfred Reyes Villa. This peaceful protest was met with tear gas and rubber bullets, there are countless injured and the police (who were NOT sent in by Evo Morales or his government) are at this moment continuing to attack the protesters.

Manfred Reyes Villa is a despot. He was Mayor of Cochabamba during the Water Wars of 2000 and is responsible for the injuries and deaths with occured during that time. In the autonomy referendum in July 2006 the department of
Cochabamba voted NO to autonomy, yet Reyes Villa has continued a pro-autonomy stance and supported the Media Luna (a colleciton of pro autonomy states). The pro autonomy argument is steeped in racism, those in favour if it do not want to share the wealth of Bolivia with the majority of the people. They make up the elites and the rich of this country who are not happy that they lost power in the national elections a year ago. Their retoric uses rascist language and cannot be supported.

Today proved just who Reyes Villa is, a wealthy, corrupt politician, desperate to cling to power and willing to use violence against the people.

You wont hear about this in the newspapers, but the violence continues here once again, in the revolutionary city of
Cochabamba.

January 11

I thought I would send a quick update. Things are grave in Cochabamba right now. The Comite Civco (Manfredistas) called a para civco indefinido today and the fascists are out on the streets armed with palos and are blockading some of the rich neighbourhoods (which makes me laugh a little!). The campesinos and unoins are in the plaza principal and on the Prado, also armed with palos (in response to the police violence the other day).

The government is saying that they dont support the campesinos and Evo has taken off to Nicuagura, but alot of people are saying that if Evo calls off the cocaleros it will solve everything. Well in my opinion its gone way too far for that. My take is that all of the issues of autonomia and the racism coming from the elites is going to be fought out over the next couple of weeks in
Cochabamba. The Juveniles Cruceños (the fascist arm of the cambas) are on their way to Coch and the Media Luna have come out in full support of Manfred. Manfred has also said that he is prepared to use Mano Dura.

The Cocaleros and Unions are still calling for Manfreds resignation or in the least a back down on demanding a new autonomy referendum. But you cant negotiate with these people, they are fascits, they even wear white shirts, its disgusting.

People are saying that the city feels like April 2000 and its way more tense than October 2003 or May 2005, in my short experience here. The Bolivian people are always at the forfront of revolutionary change and this revolution is beyond the control of the MAS government.

¡Fuera Manfred! ¡Viva la revolucion!

January 11

Ok, I sent that email about 2 hours ago, and the battle has begun. Watching the news its shows that what we all feared has happened. The fascists and the people are fighting each other in the street. All I can hear is police and ambulance sirens. Lee called just now, she has an office downtown, she is blocked in. All I could hear on the phone is banging on her roller door. Its intense. The police at this stage is doing nothing (this is good) but there is talk that Manfred will send in the army.

This is the beginning, on the radio they are calling it already the civil war, but that are elite radio stations. Ive been expecting this for some months now, just didnt realise it would happen so soon.

Ill be sending updates as I can, I cant get out of my house so its the only thing I can do.

January 11

Its now 5.40pm, there is reportedly 4 dead (all coca growers, all shot with bullets) over 60 injured. The military have been sent in , we can only hope they dont go crazy. The violence was provocked by Manfred and the Santa Cruz fascits. All the injured are coca growers, they were attacked.

this is NOT democracy
more later

January 12

Its the morning, things are calm but really tense. There was dynamite during the night and not much news this morning. We are sitting and waiting.

Hopefully we will have more information after the meeting of the social movments at 10.30.

The fight yesterday was steeped in rascism, and its been built up over the last 20 years. The language was intense and it was mostly whites beating up indigenous people. It shows the clear race and class divides of the country.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your comments and I see that you have taken a side. You mentioned at the time that there were 4 reportedly dead. Who were your sources at the moment? And what are your views on this "civil war"? You called Manfred a corrupt politician, what makes you say that?