[News] Bolivia's Political Moment

Anti-Imperialist News News at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 24 17:39:49 EST 2006

Bolivia's Political Moment, Part I: Leonilda Zurita's Visa

Posted on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 12:47:43 PM EST
La Paz: They hadn’t given the issue much space, 
seemingly because the government and Senator 
Zurita did not want to make too much noise. 
press release from the Council on Hemispheric 
Affairs (COHA) unleashed the scandal: Leo, as 
some of her friends and comrades in struggle from 
the Chapare call her, had her entrance visa to 
the United States cancelled a few days ago

Zurita was supposed to travel on an extensive 
tour of Bush country, but U.S. Consul Julie Grant 
stopped it, with the coca-growers’ leader nearly 
already on the plane, alleging that she had links to terrorism

Diverse reactions and a wire report worth pointing out follow

This past Monday, February 20, in the Viru Viru 
International Airport, Leonilida Zurita was 
informed of the cancellation of her visa. “In the 
airport they told us that we couldn’t fly by 
order of the ambassador,” said Zurita. “Then the 
consul gave me a letter explaining that my visa 
is suspended or canceled because I have links 
involving me with terrorism and other things.”

Grant’s letter says clearly, in Spanish: “This 
letter’s purpose is to inform you that the 
tourist visa issued February 14, 1998 has been 
revoked since May 27, 2004 by the Assistant 
Secretary of State for Consular Affairs under 
Section 212(a)(3)(B) of the U.S. Immigration and 
Nationality Act.” This verbal diarrhea means that 
Leonilda Zurita had some relation to terrorist 
activities or insurgent movements

And everything indicates that this is really 
about the case of Colombian peasant-farmer leader 
and human rights activist 
“Pacho” Cortes, whom the Bolivian justice system 
tried to link to 42 other coca growers’ leaders
without much success. What’s more, the case 
against Cortes has been so badly made that he 
a provisional release a few days ago, because, 
among other reasons, the Bolivian prosecutors 
have not been able to prove any of their charges against him.

But the scandal generated by a senator losing her 
U.S. visa has now caused echos from a dew more 
corners, such as a wire report from Reuters on 
Wednesday titled: 
‘Death to Yankees’ senator loses US visa.” This 
report is a real literary gem: it says nothing of 
the motives behind the cancellation, but in pure 
bad faith speaks of the terrorism accusation and, 
without explaining Pacho’s case, tells us that 
Senator Zurita is “known for her raucous 
chanting” that speaks of rubbing out the gringos

This Reuters artist is referring to the famous 
Chapare cocalero slogan “Kausachun coca, 
huanuchun yanquis” (literally, “for the cause of 
coca, may the Yankees die”)
 which everyone in 
Bolivia – even the journalists – knows is a very, 
very popular and commun saying in the Chapare 
region and among the members of Zurita’s Movement 
Toward Socialism (MAS) party. In fact, President 
Evo Morales 
it quite loudly on the night he won the 
elections. Ah, but Reuters had no time for such 
things until 
 first the news, later the truth

The President, the Vice President, and the Spokesman

Since he certainly knows that Leonilda Zurita is 
no terrorist, Evo Morales has defended his 
comrade, who many believe to be the woman with 
most influence over the current Bolivian 
president. Well, it’s not like he’s exactly let 
lose with hard words for the U.S. embassy or 
George W. Bush, but he did something.

Yesterday morning, during a 
reception for the diplomatic corps in this 
country, President Morales was visibly upset over 
the cancellation of Zurita’s visa. Hoping it was 
due to an error and not a “punishment,” don Evo 
said: “It is not possible that, in the third 
millennium, committed people, committed women are punished by any government.”

A few of MAS’ members of Congress spoke in 
harsher terms about the events, such as Senate 
President Santos Ramírez. Ramírez announced that 
he would be requesting a detailed report from the 
U.S. Embassy, which is run by don David N. Greenlee, the current viceroy.

The biggest surprise came from Vice President 
Alvaro García Linera. The former professor of the 
Narco News School of Authentic Journalism and the 
man in charge of his administration’s 
relationship with the U.S. government, 
simply: “We are not worried about a senator not 
having a visa. We are working hard as a 
government to fight drug trafficking, corruption, 
and an appropriate relationship will be 
maintained with the country to our north, within 
the framework of sovereignty and dignity.”

In other words, Vice President García Linera 
doesn’t see this as such a big deal, even though 
it has to do with an important personality like 
Zurita, as long as they continue seeing “good 
will” on the part of Bush and his employees
is big-time, serious politics here. It doesn’t 
matter that, as government spokesman (and, of 
course, former contributor to many media 
including Narco News) Alex Contreras said 
yesterday, these actions affect “the principle of 
the presumption of innocence of every citizen

Although, on the other hand, kind readers, 
has already been out there making clarifications 
for his boss Evo concerning the gringos, coca and 
the Chapare
 while Greenlee goes around saying 
doesn’t know about any cases of human rights 
violations on the part of DEA agents
 and if all 
this makes it seem like the government is holding 
back in Bolivia, well, it is.

But we will have more to tell you about the 
current political moment in Bolivia later
now, it has been recorded that a coca grower 
Senator lost her visa for the United States, and 
that a vice president wasn’t converned about it, 
although his boss, Evo Morales was, but not too much
 stay tuned

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