Bolivian Reactionaries Manipulate Police, Once Again

Bolivian Reactionaries Play Old Card

Pedro de la Haz

ON January 27, 2006, barely a few hours before Evo Morales assumed the leadership of Bolivia for the first time, the presidential minister of the inaugural cabinet issued an order to dismantle a spy station located on one of the mezzanine floors of the Quemado Palace.

Given his training and background, the minister, Juan Ramón Quintana, a former student at the notorious School of the Americas and a sociologist specializing in military intelligence, knew that the station run by the CIA and involving certain police commands, had operated there with total impunity for years.

In an interview Quintana gave to Luis Báez and myself in June 2008, he stated that prior to Evo’s inauguration, “the strongest, most effective and successful link that the U.S. government had in Bolivia was with certain police structures; the Americans perceived this force as one of its social bases.”

In a conversation around the same time, Alfredo Rada, then Minister of the Interior, stated, “Many Bolivian police agents are patriots, have assumed a nationalist doctrine and have worked enthusiastically on tasks such as the nationalization of hydrocarbons, the telecommunications enterprise and the Vinto foundry in Oruro department.”

However, he noted, “We cannot close our eyes to the reality of a police force which, during the last 20 years at least, had a strong presence of operators from the U.S. embassy who interfered heavily in the internal life of the police, and not just in the special combat force combating drug trafficking. The U.S. embassy has given economic support of close to $30 million, not only to anti-drugs operatives, but also in the form of bonuses to police personnel, and has interfered in the handling of disciplinary matters.”

I have brought up these authorized comments as references to be borne in mind in relation to the current situation in Bolivia, where a wage demand by members of the police force, incited by spurious interests, could have led to a more serious conflict, in a scenario where intentions to frustrate the process of changes led by Evo Morales and the Movement Toward Socialism are constantly latent.

Given the escalation of events around Murillo Plaza, during a meeting with mineworkers on June 24, Evo himself stated,

“Without any doubt, these people who privatized (state enterprises in the past) are using some of their brothers in the police to prepare a coup d’état, to have the minister of government killed and to confront the armed forces with Molotov cocktails. I want to say that we have intercepted their messages; it is our obligation to detect what is being plotted and how they are communicating. This right wing is infiltrating, using certain police agents (…) we are calling on our brothers in the police to take up their responsibilities to the people, to provide security, because the police have been created to provide security and not insecurity.”

Two days later, Vice President Alvaro García Linera affirmed,

“Lamentably, taking advantage of a legitimate economic demand to which the government is responding, negative forces are beginning to manipulate the mobilization. We have seen on television hooded ex-candidates of political parties, who have been removed from the police force, entering the police unit, raising arms and distributing weapons.”

These negative forces have long-term links with U.S. intelligence services and diplomatic corps, and the backing of the latter has been apparent in every destabilizing conflict suffered by the Bolivian process of change.

Hence another coordinated plot comes as no surprise, particularly in a period of assaults on Latin American governments with a vocation for social transformations.

For now, the danger would appear to have been averted. Interior Minister Carlos Romero assured on June 27 that police services are gradually returning to normal throughout the country. He stated that the current authorities are not responsible for the outbreak of conflict. “It has befallen us to inherit an accumulation of tension, malaise, conflicts and requirements to which we have responded by making an exceptional effort.”

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