Dump trucks as a killing platform

Bolivia: Six Accounts from the Porvenir Massacre

ABN, La Patria Nueva, Erbol

Translation: Machetera

Sunday, September 14, 2008, 10:02 p.m.

Cobija. – After military troops sent by the government of Evo Morales took control of Pando department, the accounts from survivors of last Thursday’s Porvenir Massacre where there are 30 dead, 25 wounded and 106 missing, began to multiply, reported the Bolivian government and the Pando Peasant Workers Federation.

The Bolivarian Erbol Broadcasters Network and Radio Patria Nueva have compiled some of them, which we present in this note.

“They shot at pregnant women and children”

Today a woman leading the Bolivian peasants denounced the fact that during yesterday’s confrontation in Pando, armed opposition groups killed pregnant women and children and those who were driven to the Tahuamanu river.

In statements to Patria Nueva, the peasant leader, who didn’t wish to give her name for fear of reprisals said that the farming comrades were “victims of racism” and added that “the objective of the massacres was met.”  “There were pregnant women, boys and girls who were killed when they crossed the river to escape; they shot them and pushed them into the water,” she said.

The leader added that “furthermore there are other pregnant women who are wounded and at the point of miscarrying.”  The number of deaths in Pando, in Bolivia’s north, during the confrontations between opposition shock troops with a column of government sympathizers, grew to 15, the majority of them peasants allied with President Evo Morales.

Yesterday morning the cadavers of six people were found floating in the waters of the Tahuamanu river, which crosses the region, and it’s feared that there are other bodies in the jungle, according to the presidential delegate Nancy Texeira.

According to another source, many peasants who identified with Morales were pursued by armed gangs and “fled to the bush” causing a confrontation near Filadelfa, 45 kilometers to the southwest of Cobija.  The woman also told the station that the attackers carried machine-guns and automatic weapons and said that many of them “came from the Brazilian side.”

“It was incredible, but the police only watched and inspected the peasants,” she said, and later added that “when the Prefecture’s attackers came toward us, the police fled.”  “When we began to escape toward the bridge in order to cross the river, many of the attackers pushed the comrades from the bridge, threw them into the water and then shot them from above,” she concluded.

More Testimonies

Señora Zaida from Filadelfia: “They threatened us in a deep trench that they opened at three in the morning; the dump trucks from the Department of Roads Services were there.  The police betrayed us, they didn’t protect us.  They asked us to stay where we were, and they sent a dump truck our direction, from which they shot at us.  We tried to escape through the river, but they shot at the water to kill us.”

Vanessa Yubacero said: “I was from the Nuevo Triunfo community.  We’d arrived less than five meters from the Pozo Bridge when they threatened us.  They said it would be better for us to turn around and we continued…we went forward and the police stopped us, let’s see how they can, no-one was expecting them to give us water, they surrounded us, they didn’t give us any time, they shot at the children, how they died, with gunshots to the heart, how those children cried, with those machine-guns.”

“We ran for the bush and the gunshots followed them, there was a woman who didn’t know how to swim, with her children, how they cried, ‘Mama, I don’t want them to kill you!’  They had no compassion for us,” said one of the survivors.

Another account from a woman who lives in Cobija indicated that officials from the Prefecture are responsible for the murder of the peasants in El Porvenir.  One woman told Erbol: “There are two groups, they’ve looted, they’ve robbed, it’s not possible that among Bolivians they should kill us.”

A male peasant from Filadelfia: “Cobija is already peaceful through the presence of the military, but now the war has moved to the town.  We understand that there are many people wounded in the bush and there are people who continue their flight because we can’t return to the fields where we have no security.”

Oscar, a student from Filadelfia who’s now in hiding in Cobija, said “We came in a small pickup truck and at our side appeared a dump truck from the Prefecture, and they began to shoot at us.”

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.

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