Goni case - next steps

Letter published at Bolivian Solidarity Network, January 30, 2007

As Goni and other ministers sheltering in the US are declared "rebeldes" what are the next steps needed to secure justice for the families of October 2003?

Last week, the Bolivian Supreme Court declared Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, Carlos Sanchez Berzain, and Jorge Berindoague “rebeldes.” All three men currently live in the U.S.

The declaration is an official statement that these three men are not properly submitting themselves to the demands of the Bolivian justice system, for they have neither personally come to Bolivia to offer declarations as part of the judicial process, nor have they sent an official representative to do so on their behalf. Nor have they presented themselves nor sent a legal representative to the Bolivian embassy in the U.S. in order to fulfill these obligations.

The action of the Supreme Court follows the Bolivian Attorney General’s decision a few weeks prior to present an “imputación formal” against these three men. The “imputación formal” is not an accusation, but rather, a declaration that attributes to these three men the possibility of criminal activity that is under investigation.

For those of you following the campaign to bring Sanchez de Lozada and his ex-ministers to justice, you will recall that we had previously been trying to pressure the U.S. government to notify these men of the trial being prepared in Bolivia, and of their obligation to return and participate in the proceedings.

This particular step—the U.S. government fulfilling the notification request which they received nineteen months ago and to which they have never formally responded—is no longer necessary.

The Bolivian Attorney General has announced that there exists sufficient legal evidence to indicate that all three of these men are aware of the proceedings underway in Bolivia. The evidence includes a CNN interview in which Sanchez de Lozada stated that he was aware of the proceedings, as well as legal correspondence between the Bolivian government and the men’s attorneys pertaining to the proceedings. Because of this evidence, the Attorney General was able to move forward with the “imputación formal” and the Supreme Court with the declaration of “rebelde.”

Now that the men have been declared “rebeldes,” the next step will be the sending of an order of extradition from the Bolivian Supreme Court to the Bolivian embassy in the U.S. It will then be in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court to either nullify the request or agree to cooperate in its fulfillment. The Bolivian Supreme Court is expected to release the extradition order within the next two weeks.

Unlike the earlier request for notification, in which there was no relevant treaty which obligated the U.S. to participate in the process, there does exist an extradition treaty between the U.S.Bolivia, ironically signed by Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada himself on June 27, 1995. and

Actions

Those of us involved in the international campaign to end impunity, and bring Sanchez de Lozada and his collaborators back to Bolivia for the trial, are being asked by the family members of those killed in the massacre of September/October 2003 to increase our efforts in the U.S. and throughout the world to share the news of these important developments, to continue and increase our campaign of pressure on the U.S. government to assist in and not to obstruct the process of justice for the Bolivian people.

We need to tell the world that Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, Carlos Sanchez Berzain and Jorge Berindoague are facing extradition for the horrific events of September/October 2003. We need to work together to identify strategies to educate solidarity-minded citizens and pressure the U.S. government to cooperate in this matter.

Please keep us informed of actions you are taking in your area with regard to this case. In the next few weeks, we will be sending along an informational report which further clarifies the status of the investigation, and in particular, offers answers to some of the likely messages that Sanchez de Lozada and his allies will be propagating in their own campaign against the extradition process. We are also preparing some of the personal reflections from family members of the fallen for use in a variety of settings.

One priority at this time is to send to the U.S. a delegation of family members of those who were killed, so that they can tell the story of the September/October massacre in their own voices. It would be ideal to time their arrival in the U.S. with the arrival of the extradition order, which means we would seek to send them in March, 2007. We continue to seek funds to cover international and domestic airfare, lodging and other expenses during their stay.

Please let me know ASAP if you are aware of groups or individuals who might offer support for this delegation to travel to the U.S. At a minimum, we would need $5,000 in order to move ahead with our plans, or perhaps at least enough sky miles for two people to travel for free, and then we´d piece together the rest of what we need….

I look forward to hearing from you with questions, ideas and, most importantly, your plans for bringing Sanchez de Lozada to justice in 2007.

Peace, friends.
Maggie Fogarty
El Alto, Bolivia

You can also sign a letter to US president George W Bush demand the extradition of Goni here

For more information on the campaign visit the website of El Comité Impulsor del Juicio de Responsabilidades a Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada y sus Colaboradores

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

more info on Goni case

Solidarity requested in effort to extradite ex-president of Bolivia
By Mark Burton
Published Jan 28, 2007 8:01 PM

http://www.workers.org/2007/world/bolivia-0201/

The National Lawyers Guild sent a delegation to Bolivia this January to study the political and legal situation in this South American country, especially the legal and political issue of the extradition to Bolivia of the ex-president of Bolivia, Sánchez de Lozada, from the United States.
Relatives of victims of Bolivian ex-president demand his return.

Relatives of victims of Bolivian
ex-president demand his return.
Photo: Mark Burton

The delegation met with the Comité Impulsor, a group of lawyers and activists working towards the extradition of their ex-president. Rogelio Mayta, the lead attorney, explained the historical background of the case for extradition.

President Sánchez was elected in 2002 with strong support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and influential circles in the United States. Sánchez immediately began implementing policies, such as privatization of national industries, as demanded by the IMF. In 2003, President Sánchez planned a massive sell-off of Bolivia’s natural gas reserves to U.S. interests with the planned shipment to go through Chilean ports, which sparked protests and road blockades. Sánchez sent the army in to clear the blockades in a military operation that ended with the massacre of eight persons in the altiplano town of Serata.

Rather than quiet the protest, the government’s actions provoked more strikes, blockades, protests and hunger strikes. These actions effectively blocked gas supplies from reaching the capital. By decree, Sánchez ordered his military to carry out actions against the Bolivian people, ostensibly to bring gas to the capital.

This decree unleashed a wave of military attacks against Bolivia’s Indigenous community in September and October of 2003, and by the end of the military repression 67 people had been killed. The uprising continued with more intensity, and Sánchez was forced to flee the country. It is alleged that on his way to the U.S., Sánchez took $1.5 million from the Bolivian Treasury.

Mayta highlighted the vast amount of work that has gone into the extradition proceedings, which included reviewing hundreds of documents, orders and decrees signed by Sánchez, and unclassified military documents. Over 100 witnesses have testified in court proceedings. As required under Bolivian law, two-thirds of the congress approved the indictment of Sánchez, showing the widespread support in Bolivia for his extradition. Bolivia is now working on a formal extradition request.
Meeting families of the victims

The delegation also had a tearful meeting with members of an association of people whose family members were killed during the Sánchez repression. One person described how her husband was shot while asleep in his house. The members of the association showed us the gravesites of their victimized family members and personally pointed out areas of their city where Bolivian troops massed against the local population.

Juan Patricio Quispe, who spoke for the committee, asked the delegation to take their stories back to the United States to help the campaign to extradite Sánchez. He emphasized that no amount of restitution will bring their loved ones back and that they want Sánchez to answer for his crimes in Bolivia.

The Bush administration has refused to serve notice of the extradition proceedings on Sánchez, and many Bolivians believe that only solidarity from people in the U.S. will force the Bush administration to comply with their extradition request. Mayta, of Comité Impulsor, explained that powerful interests in the U.S. protect Sánchez as he has a close business and personal relationship with the Rockefeller family. Bill Clinton’s campaign manager James Carville worked on Sánchez’ election campaign and Sánchez currently confers with Greg Craig, who defended Clinton during the scandal involving Monica Lewinsky.

Bolivians also believe that there are political reasons for U.S. opposition to the extradition of Sánchez. The Morales government has insured that a great majority of the oil and gas revenue stays in the country for public benefit, and these revenues now go towards funding public schools and healthcare for children instead of to the transnational corporations. The government also has recently passed a land reform bill and there are plans to carry out some form of nationalization in the mining sector. Bolivians believe that the U.S. opposes these new developments and may try to stymie the extradition process to politically weaken the Morales government.

The Bolivian people are determined, however, that unlike the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, Sánchez de Lozada will not escape facing his people. The Bolivians are asking people in the U.S. for solidarity. The Bolivia Solidarity Network can be contacted at www.boliviasolidarity.org for more information.

Mark Burton was part of the National Lawyers Guild delegation to Bolivia.