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(en) Bolivia - Anarchists Occupy Government Buildings (ca)

From "Robby Barnes" <robby_barnes@hotmail.com>
Date Wed, 4 Jul 2001 05:01:53 -0400 (EDT)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

(translation from the Spanish by Robby Barnes and Sylvie Kashdan)


Juventudes Libertarias (Anarchist Youth), Bolivia

Small debtors have been calling for a solution to their credit problems for
95 days.  At ten o'clock this morning some of them took over government
buildings.  Among them were members of the anarchist-feminist group Mujeres
Creando (Women's Initiative), whom the government named as responsible for
the action.

About a hundred activists occupied the office of the Defensoria del Pueblo
(People's Defense). several dozen also occupied the office of the Catholic
archbishop.  But the most striking event occurred at the banking supervisory
agency, where a thousand debtors occupied offices and detained 94 of the
institution's functionaries.

One group of activists passed unnoticed by security guards, went into the
banking authority building and took some of its employees as hostages.
Groups were also able to enter the bishop's office and the Defensoría before
they were noticed.

Once inside the banking agency, activists sprayed the entrance hall with
gasoline near the door of the superintendent's office.  From the top floor
of the building they threw sticks of dynamite into the Isabel la Católica
plaza in order to prevent the police from entering.  Groups of plainclothes
cops attempted to retake the building.

Top-level functionaries of the banking authority were tied up in their
offices and bundles of dynamite were tied to their bodies to prevent any
kind of police intervention.  The activists wore dozens of dynamite sticks
around their bodies and some carried old military firearms.

At least a dozen activists positioned themselves on the balconies of the
fifth floor of the banking authority's building and gave speeches using

"We are here because nobody is listening to us. These people are showing the
typical hard-heartedness of bankers.  We are here because we cannot pay our
debts."  Their words echoed loudly from their fifth floor position,
accompanied by insults and songs directed against the bankers.

Carrying a bullhorn, molotov cocktails and sticks of dynamite, the small
debtors walked around the building's balconies, setting off more than an
explosion in the plaza Isabel la Católica in order to make their demands

One woman protester used a bullhorn to communicate her complaint to the
police surrounding the place:  "For the poor there is no relief, no justice.
They have taken everything from us, leaving us sticks of dynamite to eat.
Because only the deal-makers have rights, we have been here, living in the
street, in the cold of night, with scarcely one meal a day, for more than 90
days.  And nobody will listen to us."

Representing the debtors at a press conference, another woman declared, "We
cannot leave while there is no dialogue to solve our problem, and if no
solution is found, we are determined to commit suicide right in front of
them--because we cannot put up with this situation any longer."

This protest movement includes 12,000 workers and unemployed people who have
borrowed small sums of money and have been abused by the private banks'
usurious practices.  Today they are demanding total cancellation of their
debts, an end to the suits against them and an end to the impounding of
their meager goods.  For three months thousands of debtors have been coming
to La Paz from all parts of Bolivia to stage daily protests.  These had
pacifist beginnings but later became more radical, going as far as
attempting to burn banks.  During the conflict, because of the misery and
desperation surrounding them, more than six debtors have committed suicide.
Many have been forced to give up all their belongings and live in the
street.  Meanwhile, the government favors the rich by pardoning their debts
and granting them immense sums of money.

In the middle of the night, attempts were begun to free the 94 functionaries
still held in the banking authority building.  This involved a six-person
committee for assuring their safety, including the anarchist Julieta P., as
well as some low types such as the rightwing legislator F. Kieffer, a former
paramilitary operative.  While the negotiations continued the building
remained closed.  Included in the talks were debtors (headed by the
anarchist María Galindo Mujeres Creando group) and representatives of the
private banks, senior Catholic clergymen, the Defensora del Pueblo (People's
Defense), and members of Derechos Humanos (human Rights).

There has been a ban on cameras and bringing in food or drink. The building
is constantly surrounded by a cordon of police. According to unofficial
reports, sharpshooters have been positioned in the area and specially
trained commando units have been brought in.

The Bolivian government is openly fascist.  The genocidal President-General
Banzer has had many social fighters murdered during the four years of his
regime.  We denounce the human rights clowns, the reactionary Catholic
Church and the Bank vultures as makers of a smoke screen to divert attention
to the negotiating table while the government prepares its dogs to execute a

The activity of the small debtors is by nature anticapitalist, because it
delegitimizes private property and directly attacks profits.  It utilizes
direct action and self-organization.

The Bolivian state has been called the most corrupt in the Americas.
Inequality verges on the sordid.  Hunger, massacres and unemployment rule.
The intensity of the class struggle is making the exploited more radical in
their struggles.  Twelve days ago Aymara farmers blocked highways in the
Altiplano region to demand an end to neoliberalism.  The state responded by
murdering two of them.  The answer was dynamite attacks on powerline towers.

We call on the anarchist movement in particular and anticapitalists in
general to protest at Bolivian embassies, to spread word of our struggles in
order to stop a genocide in the making.

Violence is justifiable, insurrection is indispensable.



Juventudes Libertarias, Bolivia
Email: jjll_bolivia@hotmail.com
Web: www.come.to/jlb

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