Machetera’s readers know she likes to put a relevant picture at the top of the articles she posts. Only in this case, still pictures of the coup underway in Santa Cruz, Bolivia are practically impossible to find. Ah, but maybe it’s not newsworthy until the Bolivian army shoots someone?
The Bolivian government informs the national and international community that in the capital city of the Department of Santa Cruz, a civil coup d’etat headed by Civic Committee President Branco Marinkovic, with the blessing of Prefect Rubén Costas, has begun. The Executive Branch will not respond to “provocations by fascist groups” and will defend democracy and national unity, without declaring a state of siege in the troubled areas.
The government denounced the fact that in recent weeks, a violent uprising has been brewing in Santa Cruz, with internal and external support. Today the ill omens materialized and “the prefectural civic coup d’etat against the country’s unity and democracy began,” said Government Minister Alfredo Rada.
On Tuesday, students, activists of the Santa Cruz Youth Union (UCJ) and lumpen from the shock troops for the civic business movement in Santa Cruz assaulted the government’s tax collection, agrarian reform (INRA) and telecommunications (ENTEL) offices.
The delinquents stole computers, television sets, telephone equipment and other public assets, and burned furniture and files. They beat soldiers and police guarding the property. After destroying the recently nationalized entities, they set fire to the offices of the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CEJIS).
Additionally, the UJC activists burned the offices of Radio Patria Nueva, and assaulted the offices of Televisión Boliviana Channel 7 in Santa Cruz, and stole their equipment. Radio Alternativa was forced to suspend broadcasts and other media not aligned with the separatists were intimidated, just as took place last week in Cobija, where four radio stations had to interrupt their work in order to safeguard the physical integrity of their journalists.
A kind of “regional and civic terrorism” has been launched “in four Departments, in order to hijack the voice of the people and those of free conscience who try to express their opinions,” complained the Presidential Minister, Juan Ramón Quintana. The strange thing is that the National Press Association (ANP), faithful guardian of the private media, has not mentioned a single word in defense of “freedom of expression.”
Defense Minister Walker San Miguel praised the units from the Armed Forces and the Police who faced off against the vandals “without shooting a single bullet,” even at the cost of their personal security, fully conscious that the ultra-rightwing is looking for dead and wounded that it can use politically.
Minister Rada blamed everything happening in Santa Cruz on the civic leader Marinkovic and Prefect Costas, who are not meeting their basic responsibilities to guarantee citizens’ tranquility and peaceful co-existence and “encourage these kinds of violent acts, from the shadows. These two characters encouraged, promoted and carried out this fascist and racist violence.”
San Miguel revealed that the opposition groups plan in coming hours to take over the refinery at Palmasola and disrupt fuel production, but “the fascists will not get through.” “What they’re attacking basically, is democracy. They want to topple the institutional order that has been built with such difficulty, but we’re not going to allow it because we have the people’s support,” assured Quintana.
The goverment will not declare a regionalized state of siege, since this extreme constitutional measure will radicalize still further the ultra-rightwing shock troops. Furthermore, the democratic freedoms of a million inhabitants of Santa Cruz cannot be altered by the work of 500 or a thousand brownshirts, explained Minister San Miguel.
The presidential authorities say they will confront the common criminals and delinquents who answer to a demented terrorist regime that has no political arguments and is incapable of debating democratically.
The government will use legal and constitutional means to halt the fascist civic coup. It prefers to wait for the handful of violent protesters, organized and financed by certain local powers, to wear itself out, and for the timid Judiciary to imprison the ringleaders.
Judicial authorities were called upon to “put in their place” the vandals who are mistreating people and stealing public assets; the pseudo-regional authorities who send people to beat police chiefs, defy the military authorities and threaten to take over barracks, and the “fathers of the fatherland” who openly call for sedition.
The farmer, landowner and head of the Podemos group of deputies, Antonio Franco, “applauded” the seizures in Santa Cruz. The deputy Pablo Klinsky, also of Podemos, and a close confidant of Marinkovic promoted the looting.
“They’re not going to run us over; if we’re going to talk about facing off, let’s talk about facing off, if we’re going to talk about war, there’ll be a war, but they’re not going to impose things on us. We’re strong enough to break this country in two and if I have to take up a stick, a wave, a weapon, I’ll do it, but I’m going to defend my territory and no-one’s going to run over it,” challenged Oscar Urenda, Podemos deputy for the Department of Santa Cruz.
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.