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“We are willing to give our lives if necessary to bring democracy back”

Interview with the National Coordinator of the Bolivian Landless Movement

“Neither bullets nor repression will silence the indigenous peasant movement” stated the National Coordinator of the Landless Indigenous Peasant Workers Movement of Bolivia (MST-B), Silvestre Saisari. “We have gone back to the times of the Inquisition, when they colonized you with the Bible and swords”, he added.

Real World Radio interviewed Silvestre on Monday, eight days after the coup d´état perpetrated against the constitutional government of Evo Morales, now in political exile in Mexico. Since then, the police and military forces have already murdered 25 people in Bolivia. Today the main indigenous and peasant organizations of El Alto called upon communities to mobilize towards the capital city, La Paz. The same is happening in other regions of Bolivia. The central demand is the resignation of the self-proclaimed ultraconservative and racist president, Jeanine Áñez.

These are dramatic times. And so was our talk with Saisari. His voice is filled with concern, he is tired, suffering attacks against his people and mourning comrades who were killed. In the following paragraphs, we try to transcribe some of the key ideas of Saisari, leader of the MST-B and member of the Latin American Coordination of Rural Organizations (CLOC-Via Campesina).

“We are extremely concerned and sad. Many comrades have been murdered by the Dictatorship, a lot of them have disappeared, hundreds of brothers and sisters have been wounded by the repressive forces and thousands have been illegally detained.”

“Our generation has never experienced a coup d´etat, we have never felt what we are feeling now, the crying of mothers, of orphans, of the poor.”

“This is a coup d´etat. When a military officer asks you to resign, when the Police start riots with funding from the US, when they do not respect the constitutional succession, when they proclaim themselves as presidents, when they attack the poor, you have a Dictatorship, you cannot call it any other way.”

“Our President said it himself, neither bullets nor repression will silence the indigenous peasant movement. The new government has the support of military officers to shoot at us and they have approved an unconstitutional decree to authorize officers to open fire against demonstrators”.

“The indigenous peasant movement has started a national general blockade in all regions. We have stopped bringing the food we usually bring every day, in protest against the coup. We are willing to give our lives if necessary to bring back democracy for the people and the development that we were driving in our country.”

“The main culprits here are the Organization of American States (OAS) and the US through its Embassy, who imposed this coup d´etat, massacring our people. The OAS foresaw it with an inconclusive and falsified report about the elections on October 20, which caused the situation we are experiencing now. The main culprits are the OAS and its Secretary General, Luis Almagro. He appeared to be left-wing, but is really a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”.

“When they mobilized after the elections on October 20, we did not see the coup coming. However, things kept changing, as they already had it organized and were working to create this whole situation. And now, the leaders of organizations don’t have total control, rather it is the people who are mobilized leading the way. Organizational leaders don’t have any authority right now, since it is the people, the grassroots, who are resisting the coup d´état. However, we all appeal to dialogue, to constitutionality in our country. Our political movement (MAS, or Movement Towards Socialism) holds the parliamentary majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate, but this has not been respected.”

“Until the coup was perpetrated, the peasant, indigenous and working class did not understand, did not comprehend what was happening. Even some sectors refrained from supporting the President because it even seemed true that there had been fraud. But classist and fascist hatred towards peasants started on the day of the coup itself. We went back to the times of the Inquisition, when they colonized you with Bibles in their hands and swords at your neck.”

“We would like to thank the international public who are expressing their rejection of the situation in Bolivia. We would like to ask them to make others aware of what we are experiencing, this bloody and racist Dictatorship. Bolivian people are fighting hard to recover our dignity and democracy, which today is being violated by the oligarchy who climbed into power with their self-proclaimed government. I would like to ask the entire world to express their rejection. This is important to stop the bloodshed, so that no more brothers and sisters die in this struggle.”