A Brutal Crack-Down?
On Sept.26, 2011, the Andean
Information Network reported that “[o]n September 25 at 5 pm, approximately
500 Bolivian police officers tear-gassed and used excessive force against
camping indigenous protestors outside of Yucumo, in Beni Department.”
For many years, Bolivia, like other countries in the so-called Third World,
was in the grip of a local oligarchy and foreign corporations. The same
is still true in Peru, Chile, Colombia etc. We remember the Siglo XX massacre
in Bolivia when so many miners were killed by the armed forces. We remember
the dead and disappeared under the Banzer dictatorship when the regime
cooperated with Pinochet and Videla and carried out the infamous Operación
Condor instigated by the U.S. that resulted in about 30,000 death in Chile,
at least 30,000 in Argentina, and an unknown number in Uruguay, Paraguay,
and Bolivia. We know that for the Bolivian army and police, the life an
an indigenous person or a poor person or a dissident always counted very
little. Countless persons were shot during demonstrations in the past.
The international press, the BBC, VOA, and organizations comparable to
AVAAZ (a very recent organization) had very little to say about this.
Of course no degree of police
brutality is acceptable.
Not during demonstrations on
Wall Street, New York. Not in Toronto. Not in Stuttgart or Barcelona. Certainly
not in Bolivia where a renewal of democracy is attempted and social justice
just as indigenous rights are finally getting priority.
The Andean Information Network
titles its story: “Turning Point for Morales: Bolivian Police Repress and
Detain Indigenous Marchers.”
Let me ask, How many protesters
were seriously wounded? And is it true that seven people have been killed?
– Something that would have been commonplace in Bolivia in the past...
The online edition of Los Tiempos
writes on Sept. 29, 2011:
“El presidente Morales tildó
de "imperdonable" la represión policial, luego pidió perdón
a los indígenas por la intervención, pero también
negó que él o sus ministros la hubieran ordenado […]”
We still wait for President Obama
to stand up and declare publicly that “the police repression” against those
mazed and beaten by the police during the recent Wall Street demonstration
We are waiting for the Spanish
Prime Minister, Zapatero, to ask the peaceful victims of police repression
in Barcelona and Madrid for “forgiveness”.
We also ask his minister of the
interior who will soon run for office, hoping to succeed Zapatero.
And how about German Chancellor
Exactly a year before the protesters
near Yucumo, Bolivia, were tear-gassed and beaten up by the police, in
late September 2010 about sixty-thousand peaceful citizens demonstrated
in Stuttgart, Germany, for a good cause – for the protection of trees,
just as the indigenous protesters in Yucumo protested for the protection
Michael Slackman of The New York
Times reported on Oct.1, 2010 in an article titled “Crowds Fault Police
Actions in Stuttgart” how the German chancellor commented on police brutality
in Stuttgart: “[...] ‘I would hope that demonstrations like these would
pass off peacefully,’ Mrs. Merkel told the public broadcaster SWR on Friday.
‘This must always be tried, and anything that leads to violence must be
avoided.’[…]” Clearly, Ms. Merkel, in this and other, even more misleading
comments on the events in Stuttgart, tried to suggest that the police reacted
to violence of demonstrators. She defended the police. In its so-called
“Correction” of October 12, 2010, the New York Times defends her position
implicitly and misleadingly speaks of “a violent confrontation in Stuttgart,
Germany, between police officers and demonstrators protesting the demolition
of centuries-old trees where a rail transportation project is to be built”,
regardless of the fact that the protests were peaceful and that demonstrators
as well as opposition parties in the Stuttgart parliament (which have since
been voted into office, forming the new state government) agreed in their
condemnation of unprovoked police violence.
A German-language version of
an AFP (Agence France Press) report gives the number of injured demonstrators
as “at least 130” (“dass bei
einem umstrittenen Polizei-Einsatz
mindestens 130 Menschen verletzt wurden”, cf. N.N.(AFP), „Zwei verletzte
"Stuttgart 21"-Gegner kaempfen um Augenlicht“ [Two Injured Opponents of
the Stuttgart 21 Project Feared to Remain Blind] http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i-zYBrMTabh3
According to more trustworthy
sources, and among them are apparently the committees which legally registered
the demonstration in advance, more than 370 injured people were seen on
the scene after the police attack. And many received first aid on the spot.
AN EMERGENCY HOSPITAL HAD TO BE SET UP IN THE SCHLOSS-PARK. Several REGULAR
HOSPITALS in STUTTGART faced tight capacities as injured people were coming
The falsifying of numbers is
scandalous and reliance of reporters on figures
provided by the police amounts
to an unprofessional failure to check facts and
perhaps even to unethical collusion.
At least one paper, however,
Financial Times Germany gave an approximatively correct estimate of the
number of persons suffering either light injuries (treated in the emergeny
hospital set up in the downtown park) or severe injuries. PressEurop published
a French version of the Financial Times Germany article which tells us
the following: “la police a sorti les canons à eau et les gaz lacrymogènes
blessant environ 400 personnes.”
(N. N.: «Allemagne
: Répression policière contre de "braves citoyens"»
, in :
Financial Times Deutschland, 1
octobre 2010; French translation, in: PressEurop.eu http://www.presseurop.eu/fr/content/news-brief-cover/350821-
In other words, up to 400 persons
were injured in a peaceful demonstration attended by about 60,000 persons,
according to independent witnesses. The figure given by AFP (about 130)
apparently refers to those with injuries that could not be treated immediately
in the emergency hospital, making it necessary to transport them to various
hospitals in the city.
In the independent online journal
Telepolis, Florian Roetzer quoted an elderly, pensioned bystander during
the demonstrations, Mr. Dieter Reicherter, who had come to see what was
happening and who became a victim of unjustified and unprovoked police
violence. Mr. Reicherter had still been President of the Penal Court
(Vorsitzender einer Strafkammer des Landgerichts) in Stuttgart the preceeding
month. In a letter to the minister of the interior, Mr. Reichert wrote,
“Allow me to remark that up to now I have known of such use of the police
against peaceful citizens only thanks to reports coming from China or other
dictatorships.”(„Gestatten Sie mir die Bemerkung, dass ich einen derartigen
Polizeieinsatz gegen friedliche Buerger bislang nur durch Berichte aus
China und anderen Diktaturen kannte." Dieter Reicherter, quoted by Florian
Roetzer, “Stuttgart 21-Gegner wollen mit Volksbegehren […]”, Telepolis,
The pensioned engineer Dietrich
Wagner (age 66), a bystander, tried to protect school children (which were
engaged in a peaceful sit-in) against a beginning attack with water canons.
Gesticulating, pointing at the kids, and obviously hoping to make
the police officers call off the attack, he was hit by a sudden jet
of water with such force that he was swept to the ground. He was found
unconscious. Mr. Wagner went blind, the press reported, having lost both
of his eyes. Another demonstrator also lost an eye permanently. Many had
severe head injuries.
Mr. Wagner told the German weekly
Stern that he simply does not understand “how they can cause such an inferno
directed against the population of Stuttgart.”
(Er verstehe nicht, "wie man gegen
die Stuttgarter Bevoelkerung ein solches Inferno anrichten kann", sagte
Wagner dem Magazin [Stern].“ N.N./AFP, „Zwei verletzte "Stuttgart 21"-Gegner
kaempfen um Augenlicht“ http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i
Many citizens of Stuttgart agreed
with Mr. Wagner’s condemnation of the government and its ferocious use
of the police. The next day, not 60,000 but 150,000 protesters took to
the streets peacefully in Stuttgart.
Indignant because of unfounded
allegations that the violence of the police had been provoked, many Stuttgarters
assembled in front of the state capitol, tossing shoes against its walls
in contempt while shouting, Liars, liars!
Interestingly, in the Stuttgart
case the press in Europe and North America was not particularly worried
about the things that had happened. They did not care to investigate and
denounce the excessive violence of the police and no organization, from
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL to AVAAZ, questioned the role of the Chancellor,
Ms. Merkel, or of other (federal and regional) ministers.
No one spoke of a “turning point”
for Ms. Merkel or for German democracy. Obviously what happened is “normal”
in countries like Germany, the U.S., Spain, Italy, Britain, France etc.
So why speak of a “crack-down”?
In Bolivia, for the first time
in its long history, a president of the people is heading the government.
He assumes the responsibility for the unwarranted, inexcusable brutality
of the police. He asks the victims for forgiveness.
Let us be clear.
Both the brutality in Germany,
on Wall Street, in Barcelona, Madrid and in Bolivia IS OBJECTIONABLE.
In no way was the term “Crack-down”
used by AVAAZ in the Bolivian case justified.
It’s absurd to speak of a brutal
crack-down in Bolivia, a term with implications far wider than each of
the objectionable cases of police violence (whether against people on Wall
St., in Stuttgart, or at the edge of the Amazonian forest) forces us to
assume. Certainly, civil rights are violated. Certainly, it causes grave
concern if a government refuses to accept responsibility, if it defends
what happens, if it uses the police in this way again and again. All this
is bad; but a crack-down is an all-out effort to silence and destroy a
massively present popular opposition.
Why does AVAAZ speak of a “Crack-down”?
What kind of organization is
And who is behind the media
attack against the Morales government?
Andean Information Network
on the events near Yucumo
Los Tiempos reports that
Morales calls the action of the
THE SPANISH DEMOCRACY
Democracy real YA!
Suite 101. net
"Spanish Revolution" y los movimientos sociales en la red
Romero Gil, Movimientos ciudadanos, la red se mueve
Romero Gil, "Una semana
de España acampada, por la democracia
Al Ahram Weekly
Arab Spring and the crisis of the elite"
Fouad Najem, "Forbidden"
A DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT
Hans Herbert von Arnim, kritischer Verfassungsrechtler,der
die Entmachtung des angeblichen Souveräns - der Bevölkerung
al Socialismo del Siglo XXI: avances en Europa
on the global crisis
Local to global.org
Support Julian Assange
Forum Social Mundial
Z Communications AND Z mag