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SHELTERED behind a barrage of fake news about Law 1386 (National strategy against the legitimisation of illicit gains and financing of terrorism), Bolivia’s racist and fascist extreme right wing has unleashed a wave of violence in Potosi and Santa Cruz masquerading as a “civic strike” but whose real aim is to create chaos so that they can repeat the coup d'état they perpetrated in November 2019 against then president Evo Morales.
Law 1386 furnishes the Bolivian state with the necessary legal and constitutional mechanisms to combat the legitimisation of illicit proceeds (laundering of drug money) and the financing of terrorism.
The law has been enacted in compliance with commitments to the UN, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF, an intergovernmental institution created in 1998 by the G8 to combat money laundering and terrorist financing). There is no country in the world without anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing legislation.
The law was approved in August this year by Bolivia’s legislative powers and the opposition did not raise any points about it affecting independent traders, transporters, self-employed workers, or similar categories of honest and hardworking people, as it now mendaciously claims 1386 does.
In a repetition of November 2019, the violence has included the blocking of roads and highways and the mobilisation of hooded armed paramilitary thugs, who have provoked confrontations and wanton, thuggish violence.
In Santa Cruz, members of the paramilitary group Union Juvenil Crucenista (UJC — Cruz’s Youth Union), which answers to the Santa Cruz Civic Committee, which, in turn, is led by the infamous Luis Fernando Camacho and Romulo Calvo — organisers of the 2019 coup — invaded and vandalised the HQ of the Departmental Federation of Native and Peasant Women, verbally and physically assaulting the leaders of the federation.
A similar group in the city of Potosi called by the Comiti Civico Potosinista (Potosi Civic Committe) — an affiliate of the Santa Cruz Civic Committee — attacked a march of peasants in an attempt to stop them from entering the city’s main square.
The march was held to celebrate the anniversaries of the 1810 proclamation of Bolivia’s independence and the election of Luis Arce as president of the Plurinational State in October 2020, which ended the putschist government of Jeanine Anez.
As a result of the assault 22-year-old peasant Basilio Titi was killed.
The “civic strike” instigated by Camacho and his henchmen has provoked violent incidents in other cities of the country, including shameful episodes in the Legislative Assembly, where their deputies — emboldened by support from the European extreme right — resorted to racist taunts and disorder to question the democratically elected government of Arce.
These right-wing groups are on the warpath because the state institutions are now seeking to bring before courts those responsible, including Anez herself, for the violence, repression, human rights violations, massacres and widespread corruption perpetrated during the Anez government.
What also irks them is the notable success of the national economic recovery stemming from President Arce’s economic policies.
The economy has grown by 9.4 per cent, foreign investment increased by a staggering 459.4 per cent, public investment increased by £1,700 million. More than 60 per cent of the population has been vaccinated against Covid.
The Bonuses Against Hunger and the Dignity Allowance now benefit five million Bolivians, unemployment is down by 6.2 per cent, 200 miles of roads have been built, thousands of low-interest credits have been granted to small and medium-sized entrepreneurs.
Bolivia has also announced plans to resume lithium extraction using direct lithium-extraction technology (EDL),
The government has called on the population to mobilise to defend both democracy and the gains made against the right-wing offensive.
Workers, peasants, women’s and indigenous groups, co-operatives and other social organisations have responded by organising against the renewed coup attempts throughout the country.
The Bolivian TUC (COB), the Confederation of Peasant Workers (CSUTBC), the Federation of Women and Indigenous Peasants (CNMCIOB), and federation of university and secondary school students, among many others have led these initiatives.
The continued efforts by the government to engage in a dialogue with the right forces to clarify the issues raised by them have so far been rejected out of hand.
Aimed at defusing the artificially created tension and at ensuring the peace, President Arce has taken the initiative to abrogate Law 1386. The right has responded by appealing to its supporters to escalate the conflict.
It is incumbent upon the international community to condemn now this campaign of destabilisation by the extreme right in Bolivia.
We cannot and must not allow fascists and racists to once again undermine democracy and the continued social progress.
Arce’s popular mandate must be respected as it is the irrefutable result of the will of the Bolivian people decided by a 55 per cent majority and freely expressed at the ballot box on October 18 2020.
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