Support Bolivian Anti-Privatization Activist Oscar Olivera!

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Dear Friends,

This morning at 7:30 am the police in Cochabamba arrested Oscar Olivera, spokesperson for the Coordinadora, on his way to work. The charges are "sedition, conspiracy, instigating public disorder, criminal association, and other charges." Similar warrants are out for the arrest of Coordinadora spokespeople Omar Fernandez and Samuel Soria. Olivera was released the same day for lack of evidence, but the charges have not been dropped. He must report every 72 hours to authorities, and can be detained anew at any time.

The charges against Oscar and other spokespersons of the Coalition are related to their role in successfully reversing privatization of local water systems, opposing the water export laws, and supporting the blockades called for by the Irrigators Federation of Cochabamba in solidarity with the coca growers demands.

The government filed charges against Olivera in July 2001. That same month Olivera was given direct assurances by the Minister of Government Leopoldo Fernandez that charges had in fact been dropped. The government, currently in negotiations with coca growers, is only now acting on the warrants in order to create distractions and strengthen it's position at the bargaining table. This is clear harassment and a blatant violation of basic civil rights to association and expression, and a violation of due process.

This kind of harassment is intolerable, and a clear violation of the most basic civil and political rights of association and expression. We need you to act today. Please send a simple, direct message to those in power here, demanding that such abuses must stop.

Below please find a sample fax, and e-mail and fax addresses. Please send a copy to the President Quiroga of Bolivia, with a copy to the US Embassy in La Paz. Please also send a copy to us.

Thank you in advance for your solidarity.

Marcela Olivera

(Activist and Oscar Olivera's sister)

Please, send the letters to:

Lic. Jorge Quiroga Ramirez

Presidencia de la Republica

Fax: (591-2) 220-4213

Email: (his assistant)

Sr. Manuel Rocha

Embajador de Estados Unidos en Bolivia

Fax. (591-2) 243-3710

With a copy to:

Federación de Trabajadores Fabriles de Cochabamba

Fax (591-4) 450-3530


Sample Letter

Lic. Jorge Quiroga Ramirez

President of Bolivia

We are deeply troubled to hear of the arrest this morning of Oscar Olivera the president of the Cochabamba Federation of Factory Workers and a spokesperson for the Coalition in Defense of Water and Life, on charges of "sedition."

Oscar is well known around the world as a courageous labor leader and human rights activist. News of his detention has spread fast. We are fully aware of the spurious nature of the charges filed against him. His arrest sends an alarming message to human rights workers around the world: that in Bolivia fighting for basic is an offense chargeable with "sedition."

We call upon you end such arbitrary arrests, and drop the charges against him and other leaders of the Coordinadora Samuel Soria, Omar Fernandez, and personally commit yourself to seeing that such violations of democratic rights and due process are not committed in the future.


AMP Section Name:Privatization
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