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Brendan Connell
Posted on Saturday, January 13, 2007 - 08:21 am:   

An interesting e-mail from my brothe in Bolivia:

i am writing you all because i know you will not hear
about this on the news in the states.

for a week now, the city of cochabmaba, bolivia has
been shut down due to the massive amount of protests
and riots that have been taking place. they mostly
have to do with the people form the country coming
into cochabmaba to try and take the governor or
prefect, manfred reyes, out of power. ia m not going
to get to politics, just say whathappened.

monday, the farmers held a massive march with
thousands of people, took control of the main plaza
and partially burned the municipal building where the
prefect works. around 30-40 people were wounded in
confrontations with police, and many otherss were
detained. at the end of the day, 2 cars had been
burned, kioscs of street vendors were destroyed, and
the municipal buidling was left with charred doors and

tuesday and wednesday, every road coming in and out of
cochabamba was blockaded by the farmers. thousands of
vehicles were stuck on the road, many full of produce
which literlly rotted on the roadside. in the city,
the marches and protests continued, many of the city
streets were blocked off by farmers or "campesinos"
who were armed with sticks, and various other metal
and wooden objects. they burned tires in the streets
for days, as well as anythign else that they could
find in the streets. luckily there were no
confrontations with the police during these tow days.

thursday, the protests and marhes began at 10am. the
campesinos took control of the main plaza, and almost
all major bridges in the city, surrounding almost
everything. police lines were set up only allowing
the campesinos to go so far, not allowig them to et
into the richer north side fo the city. as tensions
built, a civic commitee called for a meeting in the
northern side fo the city. the participants in the
thousands were mainly the wealthier inhabitants of the
north side. they got together and decided that they
personally were going to kick out the cmapesinos, who
had come in from as far as the jungle region of
Chapare to, and i quote "invade their city". thier
goal would be to drive them back, out of the main
plaza and eventually out of the city.
therefore, around 3pm, the civic comittee began their
march down towards the city center where all the
campesinos were in control. around 3:30 the two
groups got within eyesight and the police were not
enough to restrain the civic commitee groups, who must
have numbered at least 10 thousand. almost all of
these people, like the campesinos were armed with
bats, sticks, large fireworks, tear gas, etc..
at 3:45 they broke through the police lines, although
they were basically let go by the cops who never fired
gas upon the civic comitee people.

there then commenced a huge push by the civic committe
people, who set upon the campesinos, as well as did
the campesinos with their weapons, and there was a
huge fight that went on. in the first big fight that
pushed the cmapesinos back all the way to the main
plaza, at least 100 people were badly woounded, one so
badly you could see his brain through th hole in his
skull. 1 17 year old campesino boy was shot to death
by someone from the civic committee after he had been
throwing rocks with hsi sling. there was no mercy on
either side, many times i saw various groups of
campesinos and civicos beating one person on the
ground. women and children were beaten down as well
on both sides, and the police were completely unable
or decided not ot do anything.

after the intital attack, the civicos and the
campesinos got divided up into smaller "armies".
there were large geroups throughout the city that
carried on the fighting untill the late hours of the
night. the campesinos were responsioble for another
of the 2 deaths, a 17 year old boy was mutilated with
a machete and was then strangled to death. there were
various other instances of people getting mutilated
with machetes, as well as other being shot by those
from the civic committee. the main weapons however
were sticks and rocks, which fell like rain in some of
the confrontations. everywhere in the street were
people bleeding and runninf from here to there trying
to hold various parts of the city. the riot police
did almost nothign the whole time, basically letting
all of these racist conflicts go on for a long time.
supposedly the military told them to stand down,
although they only arrived in the later hours of
thursday nigth after most of the damage had been done.

at the end of the night there were 2 people dead, and
240 that were in serious condition in the various
hospitals of the city.

i personally was walking back to my house when a mob
of civicos who had been fighting withthe campesinos
began to escape as the camesinos had surrounded them,
and were taking a heavy toll with their slings. we
immediately got swept up in all this and although i
was half a block from my house, i was not able to
reach it as the camesinos had blocke doff that street
as we ran towards it. luckily the press were going
into a restuarant and we were able to push our way in.
we were led to the back and a man form the hotel that
was next door let us into the hotel to hide out. the
camesinos however saw that people had hid out in the
restaurant and smashed all of the windows out to get
at us. luckily the owner told them we had somehow
escaped and they waited outside for a while untill the
cops came and cleared the street. during this
confrontation i beleive is when several people were
cut up by machetes and the 17 year old boy was killed
onyl a block away from my house. luckily nothing
happened to us. in the night there were many repoprts
of both sides fighting with guns, dynamite, powerful
fireworks, tear gas and various other weapons.

in the end, the whole cit was left in ruins, tensions
were still high, and the military was now here. the
amount of racism that exists between these two groups
of people, the civicos, or more well to do people and
the cmapesinos, is amazing, no one is safe, if you
have lighter skin you are a civico and dark skin you
are a campesino. many people going home got caught up
in these riots, and were not spared due to their skin

at the hospitals there werent enough personel to
attend so many wounded. there were cries ffor help to
all the doctors and nurses of the city to come help
out. some makeshift hospitals were even set up in

friday, the civicos were ordered to stay home, and
the military spent most of the day herding the
campesinos out of the city with tear gas. the
campesionos fought back with dynamite and powerfiull
fireworks. the campesinos continued their campaing of
hunting the civicos, and there were many houses that
were attacked in the norht zone, as well as people in
the street. one group cmae very close to hitting me
with rocks, only because in am white. i spent the
rest of the day going around in the heat with a hoodie
and a mask covering all my face on. by the end of the
day, almost everything was back to normal, although
the city oce again was left in ruins.

during this whole time, there wer ehigh levels of
vandalisma dn many stores and kioscs were robbed and

today, i dnt know whats going on, everythign seems to
be normal, but i do hear fireorks going off which more
than likely means the campesinos are still marching
and or protesting. i fear if this continues a few
more days the army will be tempted to use live rounds.

hopefully however as the blockades have been lifted
today nothing will happen, although they say they were
lifted to concentrate more people into the city
center.-. we shall see.

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