[act-ma] 8 AM ! Protest of former Bolivian Pres at Harvard Business School

Sergio Reyes sreyes1 at yahoo.com
Fri Mar 6 18:32:55 PST 2009


Protest Sat. 3/7/09 - 8 AM (early!) -- Harvard Business School, Western Av. and Harvard Way -- Allston

Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, the former president of Bolivia (1993-1997 and 2002-2003), is wanted for EXTRADITION to face charges, including genocide/ bloody repression, in a court of law in Bolivia. The U.S. must honor its extradition treaty and return Sánchez de Lozada to his country sothat justice, not impunity, is served. Government officials must not be allowed to commit grave human rights violations without fear of reprisal.

In September and October of 2003, 67 Bolivian civilians, including women and several children, were killed and 400 wounded or maimed when then president Sánchez de Lozada ordered the Bolivian military to use lethal force against his own people. He presided over a deliberate siege of terror that become known as “Black October” in order to put down popular protests against his policies. Troops, including sharpshooters, fired into crowds and into homes, killing some who were not even involved in demonstrations. In the face of widespread public outrage over this bloody repression, Sánchez de Lozada resigned the presidency and fled to the U.S. on October 17, 2003. Since that time, he has lived in Chevy Chase, Md., a mere six miles from the White House. The September and October 2003 killings were not the first overzealous use of force by the Sánchez de Lozada government. By the end of his 14-month presidency, the armed forces and police had killed 150
 people, almost as many as during the seven years of the Banzer  dictatorship, one of Bolivia's bloodiest military governments.

Bolivia, with a 62% indigenous population, is the poorest country in South America, even while being richly blessed in natural resources, including the second largest reserves of natural gas on that continent. Since the earliest days of Spanish empire, Bolivia's potential wealth has been drained away by external and internal actors. During his presidential terms, Sánchez de Lozada embraced the market liberalization model promoted by the United States, the World Bank, and the IMF. As president, he oversaw the privatization of key state enterprises, including the state oil company, YPFB, which resulted in government income from oil and gas declining by $40 million annually. Foreign oil companies were extracting 82% of the profits, leaving only 18% for an impoverished Bolivia. By 2000, 30-40% of Bolivians were living on $1 per day. 64% lived in poverty.

In 2003, as the country faced financial crisis brought on by Sánchez de Lozada's policies, he needed to raise revenues to pay the now immense foreign debt. Rather than increase the tax to foreign oil companies, he raised taxes on poor and working class Bolivians. He also entered into an agreement to sell natural gas to the U.S. via Chile at bargain rates. Bolivian citizens took to the streets in protest, including roadblocks, to prevent the intended gas export. Sánchez de Lozada responded with calculated deadly force.

After Sánchez de Lozada resigned and fled, his vice president, Carlos Mesa, stepped into office. In October, 2004, under the Mesa presidency, the Bolivian congress, largely represented by Sánchez de Lozada's own party and his allies, voted by the required 2/3 majority to authorize a Trial of Responsibility due to the overwhelming weight of the evidence. Sánchez de Lozada has yet to answer for his actions. In 2005 Bolivia sent a summons to Sánchez de Lozada via the U.S. Department of State. The Bush administration ignored the request and never served Mr. Sánchez de Lozada. In 2007, ten families of the victims of the 2003 massacre filed a civil suit in the U.S., aided by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Harvard human rights attorneys. In November, 2008, the Bolivian embassy delivered a formal request to the U.S. for extradition of Sánchez de Lozada and two of his ministers.

Bolivia is a sovereign , democratic nation. The U.S. has had an extradition treaty with Bolivia since 1995-96. The charges were issued long before the current Bolivian government's administration, and indeed, the majority of the supreme court judges in Bolivia are conservative and hail from the time of the Sánchez de Lozada administration. Sánchez de Lozada would receive a fair trial. The current president of Bolivia has guaranteed the safety of Mr. Sánchez de Lozada upon his return. There is NO REASON not to extradite Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada to Bolivia to answer the charges against him.

The families of the victims and the Bolivian people deserve justice. The American people want and need to be seen as standing for the rule of law. It is a disgrace for Sánchez de Lozada to have been invited to speak at the Harvard Business School. IMPUNITY cannot be the way forward in Latin America!


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