Social Movements in the East and West prepare for mobilisations

La Jornada and Agencia Boliviana de Information, January 12-13

The Regional Workers Central (COR) and the Federation of Neighbourhood Committees (FEJUVE) from the city of El Alto announced that on Monday 15 they would march onto the headquarters of the Government to ask for the resignation of the prefect for the department of La Paz, Jose Luis Paredes.

The decision was made during an emergency meeting which was held on Friday, where the representative of the difference social sectors strongly criticised the position of the La Paz prefect in support his colleague from Cochabamba, Manfred Reyes Villa and promoting a new national referendum on autonomy.

Amongst the resolutions passed, along with the request for the resignation of Prefect Paredes, was also the demand for the sacking of the departmental councils who are accused of not having been democratically elected and, as a consequence of not being representative.

The social movements of El Alto also approved the physical occupation of the La Paz prefectural buildings to avoid Jose Luis Paredes maintaining his position.

For his part, the general secretary of the departmental prefecture of La Paz, Alejandro Zapata, clarified that the administration of Paredes does not back Manfred Reyes Villa, who the social sectors of El Alto say is responsible for the dead and injured resulting from the clashes on Thursday.

He indicated that the declaration of the La Paz prefect on the issue of autonomy was misinterpreted and that he is willing to meet with the social movements to clarify his position.

In Santa Cruz, the president of the Popular Civic Committee, Saturnino Pinto, informed today that preparations are continuing for the mobilisation on Monday January 15 where the marginalised sectors of the Crucena population will aim to have their demands heard.

“As the Popular Civic Committee, we are continuing to organise, struggle, and raise consciousness amongst the social organisation, with the COD [Departmental Workers Central], with the trade unions, with the Federation of Waged Bus Drivers May 1. We have more than 50 organisations which are part of us, and we are a part of them” he stated.

He recalled that on principal they are continuing the organisation for this event, despite the warnings that conservative sectors of Santa Cruz have made. “We believe that we have the right on the 15th, starting from 3 in the afternoon, to meet at the roundabout of the (monument to) Chiriguano, so that the people of Santa Cruz, the institutions hear us. We believe that we have the right to be heard” he commented.

In his opinion, the city of Santa Cruz is badly organised, badly distributed and its resources in particularly are not adequately redistributed and that is where the problem comes from.

“For example the Law of Popular Participation gives an amount of money from the national budget for each citizen, but who controls it?... those who are in the centre of the city. For example the neighbourhoods were the rich live have all their problems of basic services resolved, but in La Pampa de la Isla, Plan Tres Mil, El Palmar del Oratorio, 4 de Noviembre, kilometros 5 and 10 to the north, all around the neighbourhoods are extremely abandoned” he signalled.

He asked the business owners to understand that the people from the poor sectors were also human beings the same as them. “That is what we want to demonstrate publicly” he remarked.

He also referred to the threats that some conservative sectors had launched against the Popular Civic Committee and the demonstration that they had called for Monday. “For example the Crucenista Youth Union wants to oppose us, we are not against them having meetings, it is within their rights and it is within their rights to say to us whatever occurs to them, it is a constitutional right. We also believe that we have the right to say our truths” he insisted.

“For example the Pro Santa Cruz Civic Committee says that we are parallel, we are not parallel, but we respect their criticism. But they and us are crucenos” he affirmed.

He underlined that the demonstration they are organising for this Monday is no way aimed at provoking anyone. “We don’t want violence, when someone is offend even by words, it hurts, because that person who receives the insults has a family, has friends” he sustained.

Nevertheless, coming from the mass media – owned by wealthy business owners – those who oppose this Popular Civic Committee have attempted to make this event look like “an affront to Santa Cruz which will not be allowed”.

On the events in Cochabamba Pinto manifested his preoccupation but indicated that is a matter than concerns “the brothers from Cochabamba and should be resolved in the best possible form”. He reiterated, nevertheless, his criticism that all types of violence should be avoided.

Translated from La Jornada and ABI

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