Interview: “A little piece of heaven in Bolivia”


Bolivian Soldiers PHOTO/EFE

Interview with Teresa Subieta, Human Rights Delegate of the Department of La Paz

On April 14, the daughter of Teresa Subieta was arrested by the coup regime and accused of sexual procurement. Teresa Subieta insists that her daughter is innocent. Mother and daughter demand an exhaustive investigation that reveals the truth in all its clarity. In the days before the coronavirus quarantine, a delegation from the Caribbean — from Jamaica and Belize — and from the Chiapas Support Committee that was founded in Los Angeles, including a person born in Zimbabwe who organizes in the African Diaspora, had the great honor of speaking with Teresa Subieta. These were her words:

In Bolivia, the United States is now governing us. Why am I saying this? Because the CIA is deeply involved in the coup government of Mrs. Jeanine Añez. And the U.S. state is preparing to back us into a corner and destroy a 14-year “Process of Change” guided by the political party MAS, the Movement toward Socialism. Our Process of Change began long before that, logically. I am a woman who has been in the struggle since I was 17 years old, and I am now 65, so I understand what this process of liberating our peoples’ means. 

We are in a situation of terrible confrontation. The coup regime is articulated with the most reactionary and fascist right-wing forces in Bolivia. The media have been silenced. Here it seems that we are living peacefully, but outrages are being committed just below the surface. The problem of the Mexican embassy and our asylees is enraging, and it’s an aberration with respect to human rights. Even during the Banzer dictatorship from 1971 to 1978 – under which I suffered persecution, was detained, and almost killed – asylees were respected and provided safe passage out of the country. Now the asylees cannot even leave, and the embassy suffers continual harassment; the regime wants to invade the embassy itself.

President Evo Morales Ayma was forced out of office because he had led the transformations in our country together with the mass organizations – including the miners, the peasants, the Indigenous, or Original Peoples. For the first time in our history, a poor Indigenous man became president. Men and women from the popular sectors were elected to our Legislative Assembly, not to take advantage of power as the right-wing has, but to serve the majority. They made some mistakes, as people make mistakes everywhere, but the more important fact is that U.S. imperialism has always wanted to put an end to Bolivia’s Process of Change because we were following a path of liberation.

“We have not suffered such outrages even during the Banzer dictatorship.”

I am a delegate or defender of the people’s human rights in the department of La Paz [that reaches from the Peruvian border toward the center of the country, and from the Andes to the Amazon]. My work, with 18 other people in this office, has been to denounce the atrocities that have been committed in all this time since the coup: The murders of 36 people, including 12 in

El Alto and five in Ovejuyo, a total of 17. 

It is said that many more have been killed because there are people murdered and disappeared who were not counted. Indigenous Campesinos among the dead were taken to the countryside to be mourned in their home communities. We are still investigating the correct number of these deaths.

There are more than one thousand wounded by the coup government: 890 who are identified, and we include those who preferred to leave without recording their names. In addition, there are close to 560 people detained because they joined marchers in protest, or were innocent bystanders.

Who caused this violence in La Paz? The middle class of the area called the Southern Zone. It was not really understood by the former government that the position of this middle class had not changed in these 14 years: They are racist, thoroughly discriminatory. And very unhappy for the fact that the Process of Change [initiated by the Movement toward Socialism or MAS, that kept winning elections] was bringing to power the poorest sectors, the Indigenous and peasants, and the more impoverished sectors of the middle classes. 

The coup government continues to detain people. They put people in jail on trumped-up charges. They say that the accused are guilty of a breach of official duties, or that people have stolen money. It is claimed they are drug traffickers. They accuse them of committing sedition, or assert they are common criminals; these are the charges they throw against our comrades.

I recently visited a woman in detention who is not even political. She is the wife of a Russian; I believe he is a diplomat.

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