“Indigenous people were killed in Sacaba, Senkata, Pedregal, Montero, Betanzos… [the Coup Regime] bankrupted the economy, looting and corruption was their calling card.”
Miriam Amancay COLQUE is a indigenous Aymara woman, Bolivian activist for Bartolina Sisa Resistance and former trade unionist. She gave a passionate speech highlighting the repression and violence of the coup regime, and the huge steps being taken towards social progress since the people powered victory over the coup last year.
Miriam was speaking at the Friends of Bolivia meeting “Bolivia Shows there is an Alternative – Putting People & Planet First.” Read her contribution in full below:
WATCH: Bolivia Shows There is An Alternative: Putting People & Planet First
Thank you to Friends of Bolivia for inviting me to speak today and my greetings to Kate [Hudson, CND] and all my fellow speakers.
In a protest statement sent a few months ago to the European Union, I said: fourteen years ago the Bolivian people elected companero Evo Morales, the first indigenous President, because we were tired of seeing our country being ransacked and raped by colonialism and imperialism.
The oligarchs treated our country like their hacienda. In more than 20 years of neo-liberalism, Bolivia suffered massive economic damage due to the privatisation of public companies.
With Evo, we recovered our dignity and sovereignty. We saw progress, redistribution of wealth, and empowerment of the native people.
Evo gave a lesson to neo-liberals on how to run the country.
But a coup happened in Nov 2019. A bunch of political gangsters supported by imperialists, fascists, Luis Almagro, European Union, some regional governments, Catholic Church in Bolivia and others, illegally handed power to Jeanine Anez. This dictatorial regime resembled living back in colonial times.
With Decree 4078, Indigenous people were killed in Sacaba, Senkata, Pedregal, Montero, Betanzos, etc. They bankrupted the economy, looting and corruption was their calling card.
Bolivian people resisted and mobilised demanding elections, and Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca of the Movement towards Socialism were elected.
As our hero Tupac Katari said: “We’ll be back in our millions” – we are now back! Today we celebrate a year since 55.1% of Bolivians voted for democracy and stability, when they placed their hopes in Lucho [Arce] and David [Choquehuanca].
They have been told by the people to fix the economy, health, education, justice and they are working non-stop.
The vaccination program is underway with positive results. The education plan is to re-open the schools fully after the vaccination program.
Bolivia has its own economic model known as ‘The Social, Community and Productive Economic Model’, written by President Luis Arce, based on the Vivir Bien and exactly today a National Summit for Economic and Productive Reconstruction is taking place.
The economy has been reactivated. International organisations predict growth of 5.5% this year. Strategic public enterprises, left ruined by the coup plotters, have been re-activated, and others are on the way. New factories have been opened, construction of hospitals, schools, housing, highways and much more continues.
Bolivia, Mexico and many other Latin American countries are strengthening regional organisations such as CELAC to stop interference, to demand respect for our sovereignty and to stop our region being treated as the yankee’s backyard.
Anez is in jail awaiting judicial process along with many others. She enjoys privileged VIP treatment, in total contrast to her victims.
The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts GIEI, submitted a report about the gross human rights violations in Bolivia. It says people were summarily executed, it also contains heartrending testimonies of people who were tortured, humiliated, women sexually abused, racially attacked, forbidden to seek medical help, etc. It highlights the need to eradicate racism and dismantle paramilitary groups like the Cochala Youth Resistance, Crucenista Youth Union and many more.
As Justice is advancing on those who committed crimes against humanity in 2019, the supremacists are reorganising to destabilise our democratic government and bankrupt the economy again.
The recent attempt and failure to undermine Arce’s government by fascist Camacho and the civic committees with a so-called general strike, had little support, despite being championed in international news media.
They want impunity and no investigation of the crimes they committed. We demand JUSTICE for our dead, wounded, persecuted, tortured and imprisoned!
European Fascism wants to revive colonialism in the global south. The Bolivian people are not immune to the continued fascist attacks. On Sept 24, the far right in Santa Cruz, offended the then standing President David Choquehuanca and our symbol of resistance, the Wiphala.
In response, on Oct 12, the Day of Indigenous Resistance, a massive mobilisation in the whole country took place with the Wiphalazo, demanding respect for indigenous people and our ancestral symbol, the Wiphala.
The plazas and streets belong to the people and they must continue taking to the streets in permanent mobilisation to re-assert our unity and strength against the reactionaries. We have recovered democracy thanks to the unity of indigenous people and social movements who are behind President Arce.
We say NEVER AGAIN to so much humiliation, so much racism against indigenous people!
We lived more than five hundred years of injustice, looting, robbery, exploitation and death. The children and grandchildren of the Abya Yala will continue in RESISTANCE!
We just learnt that, mercenaries who ended the life of the Haitian president also wanted to put at risk the life of President Arce and strongly condemn this.
We shall stand in defence of the democratic and cultural revolution, defend our Lithium, our fresh waters, our natural resources, and defeat the fascists oligarchs and capitalism.
Defence of the people and the environment demands social justice, including punishment for those who exploit and destroy them. As President Luis Arce says: “We call on the peoples of the world to be alert. The struggle of one people is the struggle of all peoples. Just as the defence of Mother Earth is the defence of life for all peoples.”
Today, we remember our Gas War heroes of 2003 and also send our solidarity to all the victims of the coup and their relatives.
We call on all internationalists, to continue supporting the Bolivian people in their struggle for self-determination.
SOLIDARITY and VICTORY to the Bolivian people!
Long live the Plurinational State of Bolivia! JALLALLA BOLIVIA!
- Miriam Amancay COLQUE is a spokesperson for the Bartolina Sisa Resistance, a Community Advocate for the Migrant and Refugee community, and a survivor of the Achocalla concentration camp. Please follow Bartolina Sisa Resistance on Facebook and twitter.
- Miriam was speaking at the Friends of Bolivia event “Bolivia Shows There is An Alternative: Putting People & Planet First” watch it in full or read the Labour Outlook report-back here.