[WSF-Discuss] Fwd: Cochabamba: dissidents push limits of free speech

Jai Sen jai.sen at cacim.net
Thu Apr 22 11:48:36 CDT 2010

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Although this hasn’t been much commented on as such (and there has  
perhaps been no real need to do this, so far), there have been some  
comments here and there about just how much the organisers of the  
Cochabamba Conference have learned from the World Social Forum  
experience and its declared philosophy of being an ‘open space’.

But, and as I’ve tried arguing here and there, any space – including  
an open space – has its boundaries, and also exists in dynamic tension  
(often a creatively dynamic tension) with what lies ‘outside’, beyond  
the boundaries.

This seems to be true of Cochabamba as well, as much as of the Social  
Fora, world regional or national.  Here is a report on that side of  
life there, and in Bolivia.  It’s a very important reminder, even as  
this extraordinary initiative draws to a close, that we do not  
essentialise ‘Bolivia’, just as any other process, and always remain  
critically aware of its potentials and limitations; and that we always  
try to ourselves be the seed.

Thanks, Robert.


Begin forwarded message:

> From: Robert Jereski <mutualaid at earthlink.net>
> Date: April 22 2010 7:45:37 pm GMT+05:30
> To: CJN! Network <cjn at lists.riseup.net>
> Subject: [climate justice now!] Fwd: Cochabamba: dissidents push  
> limits of free speech
> Begin forwarded message:
>> From: J R <treesunrise at gmail.com>
>> Date: April 22, 2010 8:06:10 AM EDT
>> Subject: Cochabamba: dissidents push limits of free speech
>> Cochabamba: dissidents push limits of free speech
>> Submitted by Bill Weinberg on Tue, 04/20/2010 - 21:55.
>> As the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights  
>> of Mother Earth (CMPCC) convened for a second day April 20 at  
>> Tiquipaya, outside the central Bolivian city of Cochabamba, Aymara  
>> indigenous leaders held their own dissident "Table 18" on social  
>> conflicts related to climate change. Barred by organizers from the  
>> official summit grounds on the campus of the University del Valle  
>> (Univalle), Aymara elders of the National Council of Ayllus and  
>> Markas of Cullasuyu (CONAMAQ) and their allies convened the  
>> dissident forum in a Brazilian restaurant just off the campus.
>> http://www.ww4report.com/node/8550
>> Cleared of tables to make room for rows of chairs, the premises  
>> filled with pungent smoke as incense and coca leaves were ritually  
>> burned for the opening ceremony. With many drawn by the  
>> controversy, the unofficial Table 18 was as well-attended as the  
>> many tables held at the official proceedings on the campus--despite  
>> a contingent of UTOP, the national police anti-riot force,  
>> stationed at the restaurant's door.
>> Officially dubbed the table on "Collective Rights and the Rights of  
>> Mother Earth," the panel credited the Bolivian government of Evo  
>> Morales with recognizing the collective rights of Bolivia's  
>> "original nations," as well as Afro-Bolivians and "inter-cultural  
>> communities" (mestizos). But panelist Pablo Regalsky of the Andean  
>> Center for Communication and Development (CENDA) stated: "Here in  
>> Bolivia, we are building a new model--in practice, not theory--so  
>> we have to disucss the problems that arise in the creation of this  
>> new model." And he warned that there are some in the Evo Morales  
>> government--especially the Finance Ministry--who seek a "forced  
>> march to industrialization."
>> Despite "the anti-capitalist discourse of Brother Evo," he charged  
>> that "foreign capital" still often plays a decisive role in  
>> Bolivia's development policies. He cited moves towards reviving  
>> plans for an inter-oceanic transport linkthrough Bolivia, and  
>> mineral and gas exploitation on the Guarani indigenous lands of the  
>> country's remote east. Refuting government charges that Table 18  
>> was only dealing with internal Bolivian issues, Regalsky said,  
>> "These questions also have implications for Paraguay, Brazil, Chile  
>> and Peru. And they have implications for the rights guaranteed by  
>> the Bolivian constitution."
>> Writer Naomi Klein, the only foreigner who was asked to address  
>> Table 18, wittily prefaced her remarks by stating, "Every  
>> government should know that when you ban something, it becomes more  
>> popular, and you can see that in this room." We shall see if she  
>> will follow up on these words by actually writing about Table 18.
>> Figures in the Bolivian government have attempted to discredit  
>> Table 18, with Chancellor David Choquehuanca unsubtly stating that  
>> any effort to divide the summit is the work of "opponents and  
>> capitalists." (Los Tiempos, Cochabamba, April 21) Yet, when Norma  
>> Pierola, a national legislator from Cochabamba with the right- 
>> opposition National Convergence party, attempted to enter the  
>> restaurant to address Table 18 (on environmental concerns, she  
>> said), her way was blocked by attendees who barred the entrance  
>> with their bodies, chanting "¡No pasará!" (she shall not pass).
>> When she finally gave up and turned away, Pierola spoke to a clatch  
>> of reporters outside the restaurant, railing against the supposed  
>> environmental impacts of coca-growing, and calling for a crackdown  
>> on the cocaleros.
>> Evo stonewalls on justice for "disappeared"?
>> The Evo Morales government has won plaudits from the human rights  
>> community for its efforts to find the remains of the "disappeared"  
>> from Bolivia's dirty war of the late '60s through the early '80s.  
>> But just within the Univalle campus grounds, before the security  
>> checkpoint leading to the conference site, was a small exhibition  
>> (one among many on the path to the checkpoint) with a banner  
>> LOS DESAPARECIDOS" (Evo, order the armed forces to declassify and  
>> return the disappeared).
>> The small group, dubbed Mujeres X Justicia (Women for Justice), was  
>> led by Olga Flores Bedregal, sister of Carlos Flores Bedregal, a  
>> leader of Bolivia's Socialist Party who was "disappeared" along  
>> with party founder Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz in the first days of  
>> the 1980 military coup d'etat.
>> "Evo Morales has a double discourse," Olga Flores charges. "One one  
>> side, his new constitution declares that Bolivia is a 'pacifist  
>> state.' But in six years there has been no advance for the truth  
>> about the disappeared. Forced disappearance is a continuing crime,  
>> because there is still no justice."
>> Despite recent headlines about the remains of disappeared  
>> dissidents being exhumed and an official government search for the  
>> remains of Quiroga Santa Cruz, she asserts that the military is  
>> continuing to hide files on the whereabouts of the desaparecidos.  
>> She has joined with other relatives of the disappeared in  
>> litigation to force the government to release these files. After  
>> numerous favorable lower-court rulings failed to elicit a response  
>> from the armed forces, they took the case to the Supreme Court of  
>> Justice in the city of Sucre. Bolivia's highest court again ruled  
>> earlier this month that the files must be released--and the armed  
>> forces have still not complied.
>> Flores and her fellow survivors have also held hunger strikes to  
>> demand action. In May 2009, she fasted for 30 days outside the  
>> headquarters of the High Command in La Paz. This February, she  
>> again fasted for four days in the offices of the Assembly for Human  
>> Rights, a non-governmental organization based in La Paz. Flores  
>> asserts that President Morales has throughout remained silent on  
>> the matter, even following the supreme court ruling.
>> Asked why the president, himself a declared socialist, would  
>> stonewall in this matter, Flores replies: "He wants good relations  
>> with the military. Despite declaring Bolivia a 'pacifist state,' he  
>> has doubled the national debt to buy arms from Russia and China."
>> As we were talking, a small group of national police approached,  
>> and one officer politely but firmly demanded that the exhibit be  
>> dismantled. When Flores protested and demanded to know why, he said  
>> that this was an environmental summit, and the exhibit was not  
>> appropriate to the theme. When Flores responded that the exhibit  
>> was actually outside the conference grounds, he ordered his  
>> underlings to begin tearing down the posters. They did, as Flores  
>> and her group continued to protest.
>> This exibit was clearly singled out, despite the officer's excuse.  
>> Directly across the path from the exhibit was another maintained by  
>> apocalyptic Christians, warning that the End Times are at hand in  
>> typically lurid terms. A few feet away, another demanded justice  
>> for the assassinated and disappeared in Honduras since last year's  
>> coup d'etat. They were ignored by the police.
>> On the conference grounds, the Bolivian armed forces and national  
>> police had big exhibitions touting their work in environmental  
>> enforcement and restoration.
>> Mujeres X Justicia later re-assembled the exhibit just outside the  
>> campus gates, and apparently met with no further molestation.
>> World War 4 Report on the scene in Cochabamba
>> See our last post on the Bolivia climate conference.
>> Please support World War 4 Report's first-hand reportage from  
>> Bolivia.

Jai Sen
jai.sen at cacim.net
CACIM, A-3 Defence Colony, New Delhi 110 024, India
Ph : +91-11-4155 1521, +91-98189 11325

DELETION OF OLD EMAIL IDs : Please note that I am no longer using my  
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‘Be the Seed : An Introduction to and Commentary on the government of  
Bolivia’s Call for a ‘Peoples’ World Conference On Climate Change And  
The Rights Of Mother Earth’’, @ http://cacim.net/twiki/tiki-read_article.php?articleId=64 
, http://www.choike.org/2009/eng/informes/7620.html, and http://www.zcommunications.org/be-the-seed-by-jai-sen 
.  Also available in Spanish @ http://www.choike.org/2009/esp/informes/153.html

‘On open space : Explorations towards a vocabulary of a more open  
politics’, @ http://cacim.net/twiki/tiki-index.php?page=Publications


Jai Sen, ed, forthcoming (2010a) - Interrogating Empires, Book 2 in  
the Are Other Worlds Possible ? series.  New Delhi : OpenWord and  
Daanish Books

Jai Sen, ed, forthcoming (2010b) - Imagining Alternatives, Book 3 in  
the Are Other Worlds Possible ? series.  New Delhi : OpenWord and  
Daanish Books

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