Cast your mind back to 2003 when the government of Bolivia announced its plans to send its natural gas to the U.S. via a pipeline through Chile. The Bolivians in El Alto, who don’t have access to their own gas, were enraged, and took to the streets, where the Bolivian army, under the direction of Carlos Sánchez Berzaín, gunned them down. Now Sánchez Berzaín is (naturally) being welcomed by the United States. Dan Keane filed a remarkably even-handed report for the Associated Press, here. Still, Machetera prefers to go to the local source. Bolpress’s account follows the video (in Spanish) which begins with one of the demonstrators talking about how foreigners have apparently still not learned the meaning of the word “respect”:
Thousands of citizens from the city of El Alto surrounded the U.S. Embassy building in La Paz, after breaking through several police security cordons. At the doors of the diplomatic headquarters, the citizens of El Alto demanded the expulsion of Ambassador Philip Goldberg after the government of his country granted political asylum to an ex-minister facing trial for genocide in Bolivia.
At around 11:30 a.m., at least five thousand residents of El Alto broke through the police protective barrier that had been installed several meters from the embassy, a bunker that takes up almost an entire city block on Arce Avenue, centered in the residential zone of Sopocachi.
The enraged people tried to take the embassy and even burn it, reproaching the “gringos” for the decision taken by the U.S. government, supposed planetary policeman and protector of “human rights,” to give political asylum to the ex-Defense Minister Carlos Sánchez Berzaín, accused of genocide. The crowd was about to pass by the police units, which were forced to shoot rounds of tear gas in order to disperse the demonstrators. Some local radio stations reported that inside the Embassy, the “Marine” security detail was ready to face anything that unfolded.
The Defense Minister Walker San Miguel said that he felt betrayed by the fact that someone accused of such serious crimes against human rights would be protected by the United States, a country that claims to defend human rights worldwide. The mass march was also called to censure racism in the country, a scourge that was believed to have been historically overcome, but unfortunately is still active, as shown by the troubling proliferation of cases of ethnic discrimination, particularly in Sucre and Santa Cruz.
Those participating in the mass march included the Federation of Neighborhood Committees (Fejuve); the Central Workers’ Regional (COR) of El Alto, the Union Federation, the Federation of Associated Meat Workers annex, the Federation of Parents (Fedepaf) and members of the Municipal Council, among other popular organizations from La Paz who joined the endless human column to make their rejection of racism clear.
Machetera is a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.