CF Letter to David Emerson on Bolivia

 

September 17, 2008

The Honourable David Emerson,
Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Ottawa

 

Dear Minister Emerson:

Common Frontiers, a multi-sectoral network of Canadian organizations concerned about economic integration in the Americas, calls on the Canadian government to speak up for an indivisible Bolivia by publicly supporting the September 15th La Moneda Declaration, product of a South American Heads of State emergency meeting held in Chile. In that Declaration the South American governments underlined “Their complete and resolute support for the Constitutional Government of President Evo Morales whose mandate was backed by a large majority in the recent Referendum.

An astounding 67% of the Bolivian electorate supported the Morales government in the August 10th Referendum. However, despite the strong vote of confidence in the national government, dissident governors in Bolivia's 'half moon' (the four eastern departments) have since stepped up efforts to disrupt and destabilize the country. Over the past three weeks acts of violence and sabotage have been carried out with the intent of bringing down the government.

Last week, violence in the four provinces controlled by these governors reached a crisis point. In addition to multiple attacks on people and organizations considered sympathetic to the Morales government, dissident groups have occupied, ransacked and burned over 70 buildings, taken over airports, blown up natural gas lines and blocked roads in at least 35 places causing millions of dollars in economic damages.

On September 11th, a massacre took place in Pando, a province in north-eastern Bolivia, bordering Peru and Brazil. Campesinos marching from their communities to the city of Cobija to denounce the violence being orchestrated by the Pando Governor, Leopoldo Fernandez were ambushed by thugs employed by the Governor. A wide trench was dug in the road and when the marchers reached it sharpshooters in the trees began firing with machine guns. At least 8 people were killed instantly. People then scattered into the countryside, pursued by the assassins. It has been reported that some 60 people are dead and several hundred are missing as a result of this massacre and other attacks.

In response to these efforts to destabilize the country, a state of emergency has been declared in Pando, and President Morales has expelled the U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg, for aiding and abetting the 'half moon' dissident groups. Governor Fernandez is being held as the intellectual author of the massacre.

The Morales government has called for a return to dialogue in order to restore order to the country.

Common Frontiers is calling on the Canadian Government to immediately issue a statement condemning the Pando massacre and other attacks, while at the same time making it clear that Canada stands firmly opposed to the violence being used by groups aiming not only to compromise the territorial integrity of Bolivia, but also to destabilize Bolivian democracy.

 

Sincerely,

 

Rick Arnold
Common Frontiers - Coordinator

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