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Date: Tue, 30 Jun 98 17:43:18 CDT
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: Weekly Americas News Update #439, 6/28/98
Article: 38056
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.15108.19980701181547@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** reg.nicaragua: 65.0 **/
** Topic: Weekly News Update #439, 6/28/98 **
** Written 7:47 AM Jun 29, 1998 by wnu in cdp:reg.nicaragua **

CIA Sponsors Anti-Terrorism Unit in Bolivia

Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York,
Weekly News Update on the Americas, Issue #439, 28 June 1998

The Bolivian government, with help from the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), has intensified repression against campesino coca growers (cocaleros) in the Chapare region of Bolivia. Five cocaleros were arrested and several police agents were injured in new clashes in the area of Isiboro-Secure National Park during the week of June 22, according to cocalero leader and national legislative deputy Evo Morales Ayma. Morales said it was impossible to get precise information about how many campesinos and police agents were injured in the clashes, because of the distance and the strict police and military control over the area. [La Estrella del Oriente (Santa Cruz, Bolivia) 6/24/98] Cocalero union leaders and the parliament's Human Rights Commission say that 12 coca growers and two police agents have been killed in clashes in recent months. [New York Times 6/27/98; Los Tiempos (Cochabamba) 6/24/98] One police agent was killed on May 29 as cocalero families staged actions to block highways. [Agencia Informativa Pulsar 6/1/98]

The Bolivian government's move toward confrontation and away from the previous strategy of compensating growers for voluntarily eradicating coca has been heavily promoted by the US government. A June 27 article in the New York Times notes that State Department officials, tired of subsidizing coca growers, pushed hard for the policy change. The US now seems to be pushing hard for an all out strategy of repression: the article points out that unnamed US officials note that although cultivating new coca fields has been illegal since 1988, only a handful of the 40,000 coca growers in the country have been arrested.

But US officials also see reasons for optimism, reports the article. Officials note that a Bolivian anti-terrorism unit, trained and financed by the CIA, began operating in the Chapare recently and is making an impact. The unit has captured a list of terrorist leaders and a code book for terrorist operations belonging to one of the six coca unions that are planting illegal crops in a national park, according to Bolivian Army and State Department officials. [NYT 6/27/98]

On June 22 Government Minister Guido Nayar Parada denied that there are foreign pressures or interests of any other kind in the government's anti-drug plan, dubbed Plan Dignidad. [LT 6/23/98 from ABI] We know that the application of Plan Dignidad only obeys political interests and interests of submission to the United States, said Evo Morales. [LEdO 6/24/98]

The crackdown comes as new laws take effect that reduce and will eventually eliminate the financial compensation growers receive for voluntarily eradicating coca crops. According to the plan, on July 1 compensation to individuals for voluntary eradication of illegal coca will drop from $1,650 to $850 per hectare eliminated, and compensation to the community will be instituted at $1,700 per hectare. On Oct. 1, all individual compensation ends, and community compensation is instituted at $2,500 per hectare. On Jan. 1 of next year, community compensation drops to $2,000 per hectare; on Oct. 1, 1999, it drops to $1,500; on July 1, 2000, it drops to $1,000; and on Apr. 1, 2001, it drops to $500. As of Jan. 1, 2002, all compensation is eliminated. [El Deber (Santa Cruz, Bolivia) 6/21/98 from ANF]

Nayar said on June 23 that Plan Dignidad and Law 1008--which imposes harsh penalties for involvement in all levels of the coca cultivation, production and transportation processes--are subjects which are non-negotiable with the Bolivian Workers Central (COB). The COB has been seeking a dialogue with the government on a number of demands, including compensation for cocaleros and the demilitarization of the Chapare. [LT 6/24/98 from ABI] On June 24 the COB sent a letter to Lopez, asking the government to bring peace to the Chapare by respecting human rights; developing consensus actions regarding coca leaf; discussing real alternative production plans; and granting fair compensation to the campesinos. [El Deber 6/25/98 from EFE] In the letter, the COB insists that it has always taken dialogue seriously, but warns that the government's delay practices make the dialogue sterile and used for the purpose of distraction, while the offensives against workers continue... [LEdO 6/25/98]

The letter proposes the creation of a high-level commission with decision-making power which would include the COB, the Only Union Federation of Bolivian Campesino Workers (CSUTCB), the Federation of the Tropics and other sectors. COB leader Milton Gomez told Spanish news service EFE that the COB wants the government to stop violating union and labor rights, suspend the privatization of the National Health Fund, and halt the liquidation of assets of the Social Security Complementary Funds. [El Deber 6/25/98 from EFE] Gomez noted that a truce called by the COB to allow the government time to renew talks and resolve pending demands expires on June 28. [LT 6/27/98]