Update on campaign to bring "Goni" to justice

Dear Friends,

We write with angering news after several months of waiting for the extradition process to advance through the Bolivian legal system. It has come to light that, last year, the United States Government has granted political asylum to Carlos Sánchez Berzaín, former Minister of Defense and one of three men currently living in the United States (along with former President Gonzalo Sanchéz de Lozada and former Minister of Hydrocarbons Jorge Berindoague) while accused here in Bolivia of authoring the events of Black October in 2003. While the other two men have not yet gained the status of political asylum, this decision by the U.S. Government makes Berzaín's extradition much less probable, and also that of Goni and Berindoague.

An important detail of this case involves Berzaín's lawyer, Greg Craig, who is defending the former Minister of Defense against charges of human rights abuses under the Alien Tort Statute in the U.S. Courts. Craig is also Senator Barack Obama's top foreign policy advisor. This relationship could have serious consequences for U.S. foreign relations, especially with Latin America and Bolivia. It is also an indication that the U.S. policy of protecting the rich and powerful at the cost of the poor and marginalized will likely continue, regardless of which political party wins the White House.

The Association of Families of Those Fallen in Defense of the Gas and the Steering Committee for the Trial of Responsibility are outraged and insulted by the U.S. Government's decision to protect one of the principal suspects in the deaths of 67 Bolivian civilians and the injuries of hundreds more in 2003. Despite this setback, and regardless of who is elected in the fall and with what counsel, they will continue their efforts to push forward extradition of Goni, Berzaín, and Berindoague to face justice in Bolivia, and also support the human rights cases against Goni and Berzaín in the U.S.

Here are some things you can do to help:

* Respond to false information and propaganda, online or in the papers. Several articles replete with misinformation in favor of Goni and his allies have come out over the past few months. Post a correction or send a letter to the editor and spread the real story of what happened in Black October.

* If you see any false information regarding the caes online or in the media, please tell us.

* Write to Senator Obama and tell him how you feel about his foreign policy advisor, Greg Craig. Should someone who defends human rights violators be one of his top advisors? Tell him you expect an improvement in U.S. foreign policy in 2009, not more of the same.

* Talk to your friends and neighbors about the case and spread information. Tell them to write to their congressional representatives and candidates of choice and share the importance of human rights at home and abroad.

As always, thanks for your support.


Julia and the Comite Impulsor

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