Translated Excerpts from Letter of Human Rights Foundationto Bolivian President Evo Morales.Accompanies "Report on the Human Rights Situation in Bolivia,"08 October 2008
From the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) we respectfully address ourselves to you, in your capacity as head of state, to express to you our profound preoccupation for the growing wave of killings for political motives that is occurring in your country and for the continuous pronouncements emitted by you and by high functionaries of your government, whose content advertises war, defends racial hatred, threatens freedom of the press and tends to worsen the human rights situation in Bolivia.
It is widely known that a great political polarization exists in Bolivia which was evidenced by the results of the referendums carried out over the last few months . . .
. . . This political polarization in Bolivia has heightened over the last weeks, bringing as a consequence manifestations of violence which up to now have left at least 21 dead and hundreds injured. Facing this situation, we view with preoccupation that the response of the government comes in the form of speech that incites more violence and which openly defends groups of civilians armed against persons and cities of the opposition. This speech continues fully charged with degrading adjectives such as "racists," "fascists," "separatists," "sellers of the country," "anti-patriots," "oligarchs," and "rightists."
First, your constant verbal attacks are generating aggressions against the press on the part of your followers. During the protests for the devolution of the [revenues from the] Direct Hydrocarbons Tax, several journalists who covered the events were assaulted. Instead of condemning these aggressions, you and the spokesman of your government, Ivan Canelas, accused the PAT and Unitel television networks and the El Mundo newspaper of being "dirty" and "irresponsible."
Second, President Morales, your consistent speech calling upon your political supporters "to die" so as "to defend the revolution" from the actions of the "coup supporters" constitutes propaganda in favor of war and incites political violence and puts the life of every person in Bolivia in danger. Finally, the official speech with which you disqualify those persons who are not in agreement with the policies of your government seeks to silence the political leaders of the opposing departments, threatening the right of political participation. . . .
. . . the use your government makes of the language in your speech gives rise to a much more serious connotation than the merely political. In effect, President Morales, the HRF also wishes to express its preoccupation because your political speech disqualifying the opponents of your government would also promote racial hatred on the part of the national majority of Bolivia's west, namely, persons of "Aymara" or "Quechua" origin, against the national minorities of Bolivia's east and south, namely, "Cambas" (Indians or Mestizos of Bolivia's east) or "Chapacos" (of the Department of Tarija) who live in the majority in the departments opposed to the government . . . We have seen the signs of racial hatred against the "Cambas," such as in the city of El Alto in the Department of La Paz (http://www.laprensa.com.bo/noticias/12-09-08/12_09_08_poli5.php), as in Internet sites which support your government (http://bolivia.indymedia.org/search/node/cambas), and we fear that this is reflected in your speech. . . .
The report itself presents the evidence substantiating the charges made above in much greater detail. It is sixteen pages long and is divided into five main parts: "Antecedents," which gives an overview of the recent background to the political polarization that now exists in the country, primarily related to the autonomy referendums, the proposed constitution, and the results of the revocatory referendum votes; "Passing Events Between August and September, 2008," which examines the inter-departmental strike of the five eastern departments to force the devolution of the revenues of the Direct Hydrocarbons Tax, coupled with Morales's failed attempt to convene a national referendum on his constitution by executive decree, including the manner in which the protests degenerated into the forcible takeover of government offices, actions which the HRF disapproved of in its own statements; "Violations of the Right of Freedom of Expression," in which the HRF reviews the numerous attacks against the press, including the encitement to violence against the media on the part of the government, as well as the official promotion of racial hatred; "Deaths in Confrontations for Political Motives and the Danger of Larger Violence," where the HRF presents the story of the violence of September 11-13 in Pando, especially with reference to Porvenir, as well as the armed march of Morales supporters against Santa Cruz de la Sierra, which came to a head between the 23rd and 25th of September. And finally, a concluding section containing the HRF's recommendations for a restoration of the observance of human rights in Bolivia, which are largely reflected in the excerpts quoted above.Results?There has not been any official reaction as of yet coming from the Morales regime, and I expect they will chose simply to ignore the report. Its major impact may be that some discussion will ensue within Bolivia and the region. The La Paz daily newspaper La Razón did publish news of the report, which does make its overall content known to the Bolivian people, but without a public discussion of its particulars it may not go very far. But what may be most important is that there is a documented version of the events in Porvenir and the armed march against Santa Cruz that can now be cited as a credible source of information. This may not seem like very much, but some of the most important work human rights organizations perform lies within the documentation they provide of significant events which are not always covered in the major media to the full extent they deserve. Reports such as this one are circulated among many international organizations and the list one can see attached to the cover letter sent to Evo Morales makes this clear. It is at least one small step out of the darkness.Within the blogosphere there is a little reaction. The MABB blog has posted news of the report with the unusual comment that the report is "amusing," which I take to be a reference to the unlikelihood that it will have any effect upon Evo Morales, who is not known for responsible conduct. MABB has also pointed to Morales's desire to rid himself of international contacts as a necessary step towards the achievement of his program, so this would seem to fit. Bolivia Confidencial merely published the cover letter I excerpted above with the comment, as I translate, that it is "an important document" that "was not wasted." And Martha Colmenares presents the HRF's own case to Spanish language readers on her site, which has followed recent events in Bolivia much more closely than many others and which I must recognize as presenting me with the very best coverage I have found thus far.