BOLIVIAN LANDLESS MOVEMENT SPEAKERS IN TAMPA-Andrew Stelzer

02/27/06

Movimientio sin tierra, or the landless movement, exists through Latin American, and the world. 2 Bolivians activists were at the University of South Florida this afternoon, speaking about the landless movement in Bolivia and the new administration of Evo Morales. WMNFs Andrew Stelzer was there, and filed this report.

The former president of the landless peasant movement of Bolivia, Silvestre Saisari explained that the indigenous people of Bolivia always viewed land as collectively owned, and not private property—for this reason, and to try and protect the natural resources, they resisted the colonial occupiers from Spain. This resistance continued until the early 1950’s when a revolution occurred, ending with promises of land redistribution

ACT “in 1952 or 53…land was apartialized, that meant many large landowners moved to eastern part of country, and were given huge plots of land, at the same time, they formed the banco agricura, who were given large amounts, and large land owners never had to pay back their debts…�

Under a plan called the National institute of Colonialization, Peasants were supposed to get 50 hectares each, many wealthier landowners were given between 500 and 50,000 hectares of land. Because people didn’t have land, they became Peons who were forced to work for the rich for low wages; conflict ensued, and continued until 1992, when the National institute of Colonialization was abandoned. Bolivia was also the first country to have a neo-liberal economic model imposed on it by the rest of the world, in the form of a law called 21060, written By Jeffrey Sachs and former Bolivian president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada .

ACT- Saisari “one of the negative aspects of law number 21060, it broke the back of the miners union, and campisinos moved to the chapare, formed an umbrella organization, and organized using what they had learned as minors.

The miners helped the coca growers get organized, and the coca growers decided to work together with other campesino groups around the country on other issues, as they realized that if the war on drugs if that was their only issue, they would simply be murdered. Since 1999 various social movements, including coca growers, those opposed to the privatization of gas, and the privatization of water, all came together to form a coalition that would eventually become the MAS—the political party of recently elected president Evo Morales. Saisari Said after 5 presidents in the last 5years there is a new consciousness for positive change in Bolivia, and that he can live with globalization, as long as its globalization that respects human rights for all.

ACT- Saisari “what the movement sin frontaries is land, more productions..its been a beggars state, which eth us government has given off in exchange but part of it has meant with poverty there ha been brain drain..�

Saisaris speech was translated by George Ann Potter, who worked with newly elected Bolivian president Evo Morales for 2 years, and for the last 6 and a half years has taken part in the struggle of coca growers to maintain the right to grow the leaf they have harvested for hundreds of years. Potter says the movement sin fronteras is working with landless peasants all over the world

ACT-Potter “the via campisino is a world wide movement peasant movement. these are things we stand for, education, access to land, sustainable agriculture, sovereign nutrition, against GMOs rather pay more for homegrown, so trade issues, and in the case of Bolivia we need documentation no id, cant vote..�

Potter says unfortunately, only 4 out of the 16 members of the Bolivian cabinet are women. Potter was speaking at USF in the absence of Leonilda Zurita, an activist, who is now a senator, who was denied a visa to come to the United States. Potter says the refusal of the US to let her into the country is the first blatant sign of the US’ harassment of the newly elected government of Evo Morales. Zurita would have been the first member of the new Bolivian government to visit the united states. Zurita has previously been jailed for being a cocaleros, or coca growing activist—coca is one of the more misunderstood issues—as the coca leaf has many uses besides being ground and turned into cocaine..

ACT “in October of 2003, agreement allowed each family ¼ hectare of land of coca until a study conducted to determine what the actual traditional use, that study hasn’t started yet—no one wants to do that study, and it’s a hot potato, but now that evos president it will get underway, a UN agency will conduct it..�

Potter says the cocaleros want to control enforcement of the coca growing limits, as well as industrialization of coca—meaning that teas, and diet pills and other non-cocaine products can be manufactured and sold, and they are calling for the UN to take coca off the list of illegal drugs.

There are plans for a constitutionally assembly to convene is begin work on rewriting the Bolivians constitution is July.

For WMNF news, I’m Andrew Stelzer

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podcast?

Can I download the interview with SIlvestre Saisari in mp3-format somewhere?