Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login

Hidden cells reveal Bolivia's dark past (Era of U.S.-supported dictator Hugo Banzer)

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
This topic is archived.
Home » Discuss » Latest Breaking News Donate to DU
Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-05-09 02:38 PM
Original message
Hidden cells reveal Bolivia's dark past (Era of U.S.-supported dictator Hugo Banzer)
Source: BBC News

Page last updated at 12:47 GMT, Thursday, 5 March 2009
Hidden cells reveal Bolivia's dark past

By Andres Schipani
BBC News, La Paz

Deputy interior minister Marcos Farfan
Marcos Farfan was tortured with electric shocks by the military regime

"There is no beginning without an end, but you will pay me back," reads an engraving on the wall of a dark and humid room in the basement of a government building in Bolivia's administrative capital, La Paz.

Next to it, stains of blood drawing four fingertips seem like grim blemishes, not at all adornments.

Bolivia is unearthing this dark part of its past.

The left-wing government of Evo Morales has recently discovered what his government calls "the horror chambers" - torture cells found by chance when contractors uncovered blocked off hallways in the basement of the Ministry of the Interior.

Those hallways led to cells where around 2,000 political prisoners were held and tortured during the 1971-1978 military rule under General Hugo Banzer.

Read more:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
mike_c Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-05-09 02:41 PM
Response to Original message
1. I wonder if the American torture cells will ever be revealed...?
Most are probably overseas, often overseen by foreign military, police, and intelligence groups, but they're American torture chambers just the same.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
ReliantJ Donating Member (680 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-05-09 02:43 PM
Response to Original message
2. (Era of U.S.-supported dictator Hugo Banzer)
I've lost count of how many we've supported.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
fascisthunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-05-09 02:49 PM
Response to Original message
3. kicked and rec'ed
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-05-09 02:50 PM
Response to Original message
4. Thumbnail sketch of Banzer's filthy career
(This was written in 1995, before he was elected yet again, and privatized Bolivia's water, raised the water prices beyond reach for the poor, and kicked off the water rebellion, broke into people's homes to find rebels, and brought out government sharpshooters who shot at the crowds of protesters. Then he died of cancer, or he would have harmed the poor and indigenous even more.)

President of Bolivia

In 1970, in Bolivia, when then-President Juan Jose Torres nationalized Gulf Oil properties and tin mines owned by US interests, and tried to establish friendly relations with Cuba and the Soviet Union, he was playing with fire. The coup to overthrow Torres, led by US-trained officer and Gulf Oil beneficiary Hugo Banzer, had direct support from Washington. When Banzer's forces had a breakdown in radio communications, US Air Force radio was placed at their disposal. Once in power, Banzer began a reign of terror. Schools were shut down as hotbeds of political subversive activity. Within two years, 2,000 people were arrested and tortured without trial. As in Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, the native Indians were ordered off their land and deprived of tribal identity. Tens-of-thousands of white South Africans were enticed to immigrate with promises of the land stolen from the Indians, with a goal of creating a white Bolivia.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-05-09 02:59 PM
Response to Original message
5. Morales visit alleged site of Bolivian government torture of opposition
Morales visit alleged site of Bolivian government torture of opposition
Thu, 05 Mar 2009 12:00p.m.

Bolivian president Evo Morales on Tuesday visited a recently discovered basement in a government building where
bones of alleged torture victims from the time of Bolivia's military dictatorships have purportedly been uncovered.

According to officials, the basement was allegedly used as a torture centre during the dictatorships of General Rene Barrientos and General Hugo Banzer, between 1966 and 1978.

Forensic experts from Argentina have been summoned to help in the investigation.

At a news conference, Morales said he had ordered a full investigation to establish whether the bones found in the basement were human, and to determine whether the victims were tortured.

Along with numerous bones, old propaganda pamphlets and documents from the 1970s were found at the basement, which is made up of three rooms.

The president of the Human Rights Permanent Assembly of Bolivia told The Associated Press that the basement could also have been used during the "de facto" government of General Luis Garcia Meza in 1980.



As background on Bolivia's president, for anyone who didn't know, he's struggled with the racist right-wingers for years, himself, at the personal level. From an article about him:
By 1996 Morales was president of the Coordinating Committee of the Six Federations of the Tropics of Cochabamba.

Morales supported the growing of coca as a right of the citizens. Opposed by the existing government, in 1989 Morales was severely beaten and left for dead in the countryside.

While imprisoned for his politics, a substantial number of coca farmers in protest walked 373 miles from Cochabamba to the capital city, La Paz. Government officials in La Paz were overwhelmed by the number and so negotiations between the opposing groups began. Shortly after an accord was reached, the farmers returned home where they were violently harassed by militia and an assassination attempt was made on Morales.

News of the peaceful protest spread internationally and Morales was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995 and 1996. With international support, Morales travelled overseas to campaign for the legitimacy of coca production.

In 1999, the unofficial IPSP political party united with the established national political party Movement Towards Socialism (MAS). Morales was elected president of the new party. Meanwhile an opposed government faction to Morales and the MAS party reinstituted the campaign against coca production with military aid. Many in the regions Morales represented were violently taken off their land and some were assassinated.

Morales denounced the use of military for the conflict and was soon relieved of his seat in parliament by then president, Jorge Fernando Quiroga Ramirez and 104 representatives from other parties.

In 2002, Morales formally objected before the law to the parliament's violation of his right to defend himself and to parliamentary immunity. That same year, under the endorsement of the MAS party, Morales entered the 2002 Bolivian elections. At this time, U.S. Ambassador Manuel Rocha attempted to persuade Bolivians against election of Morales. Morales did not win the presidency but he won his seat back in parliament with 81.3% of the vote.

In February 2003 a battle in La Paz broke out between MAS demonstrators and police and soldiers. Hundreds were wounded and 33 dead. In October 2003 twenty-eight more MAS demonstrators were killed in protest of oil exploitation plans of the Bolivian government. Two weeks after the massacre, then president Sanchez de Lozada left his palace and expatriated to the U.S. Then vice president Carlos Diego Mesa Gisbert took over as head of state.

In December of 2004, amid mass social and political chaos and the looming threat of a U.S. sponsored coup d'etat municipal elections were held. MAS became the dominating political party of the country.

In December of 2005, Morales won the presidency with 53.7% of the vote. He supports the nationalization of gas and coca, which is now termed as hydrocarbons. He supports the protection of natural resources and indigenous rights to control the nations land and development.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
roody Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-05-09 03:01 PM
Response to Original message
6. A proud graduate of School of the Americas.
Someone at DU called closing the SOA a "fringe movement." Not the fringe, rather close to the heart of the problem of militarism/fascism.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-05-09 03:46 PM
Response to Original message
7. Other aspects of Banzer's stellar career as a torturing, mass murdering fascist.....
Interpol was after him even as he escaped into his terminal illness:

By Reuters News Agency (original in Spanish)
December 27, 2001
Argentina Judge Seeks Capture of
General Banzer for "Plan Condor"

An Argentine federal judge, on Wednesday, sought the capture with the goal of extraditing ex Bolivian president Hugo Banzer, in a case that investigates the existence of a joint plan by the military regimes of the Southern Cone in the 1970s to eliminate opposition leaders.

"It's the right thing to do. We seek it because of Plan Condor The charge is racketeering, the same charges that have been made against the ex repressor of Argentina, Jorge Rafael Videla and for the ex Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet," Federal Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral told Reuters.

Plan Condor, an alleged conspiracy between the de facto regimes of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brasil and Paraguay, supposedly coordinated the actions by military, police and intelligence forces by their different countries inside the national territories of their own to kidnap and eventually disappear opposition leaders.

General Banzer, a military official who governed as dictator between 1971 and 1978, and who returned to power by democratic means in 1997, resigned on August 6th from the Bolivian presidency due to advanced lung cancer. "I think that the conditions exist," said the Judge, asked about the real possibility that Banzer could be arrested and extradited to the country. The last military dictatorship that governed Argentina between 1976 and 1983 left between 15,000 and 30,000 people disappeared. But the military officials benefited from the amnesty laws of 1986 and 1987 and were later pardoned in 1990 by then-president Carlos Menem.
The only crime that is not covered by the pardon law is that of the kidnapping of children of pregnant women who were kidnapped and tortured in clandestine detention centers, where they gave birth.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
JDPriestly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-05-09 05:27 PM
Response to Original message
8. I believe that Americans, mercenaries or Green Berets (veterans
of the Viet Nam War) went to Bolivia in 1969 or 1970. I think I heard talk of that at that time. I didn't know what the person who said that was talking about. This must have been it.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-05-09 05:32 PM
Response to Original message
9. You may want to start learning about Latin American nazis!
The Bolivian Socialist Falange party founded in 1937 played a crucial role in mid-century Bolivian politics. Luis Garca Meza Tejada's regime took power during the 1980 Cocaine Coup in Bolivia with the help of Italian neo-fascist Stefano Delle Chiaie, Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and the Buenos Aires junta. That regime has been accused of neo-fascist tendencies and of admiration for Nazi paraphernalia and rituals. Hugo Banzer Surez, who preceded Tejada, also displayed admiration towards Nazism and fascism. Since the popular election of Evo Morales, Bolivia has seen a resurgence of far right politics in opposition to his Movement Towards Socialism government, policies, and reforms. Resurgent neo-fascist groups include the Bolivian Socialist Falange, Santa Cruz Youth Union, and Nacion Camba.

A Nazi Reunion
In nearby coca-producing Bolivia, Nazi fugitive Klaus Barbie was working as a Bolivian intelligence officer and drawing up plans for a putsch that would add that central nation to the region's "stable axis" of right-wing regimes. Barbie contacted Argentine intelligence for help.

One of the first Argentine intelligence officers who arrived was Lt. Alfred Mario Mingolla. "Before our departure, we received a dossier on (Barbie)," Mingolla later told German investigative reporter Kai Hermann. "There it stated that he was of great use to Argentina because he played an important role in all of Latin America in the fight against communism. From the dossier, it was also clear that Altmann worked for the Americans." (For an English translation of Hermann's detailed account, see Covert Action Information Bulletin, Winter 1986)

As the Bolivian coup took shape, Bolivian Col. Luis Arce-Gomez, the cousin of cocaine kingpin Roberto Suarez, recruited neo-fascist terrorists such as Italian Stefano della Chiaie who had been working with the Argentine death squads. (See Cocaine Politics by Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall) Dr. Alfredo Candia, the Bolivian leader of the World Anti-Communist League, was coordinating the arrival of these paramilitary operatives from Argentina and Europe, Hermann reported. Meanwhile, Barbie started a secret lodge, called Thule. During meetings, he lectured to his followers underneath swastikas by candlelight.

While the CIA was encouraging this aggressive anti-communism on one level, Levine and his DEA field agents were moving against some of the conspirators for drug crimes. In May 1980, DEA in Miami seized 854 pounds of cocaine base and arrested two top Bolivian traffickers from the Roberto Suarez organization. But Levine saw the bust double-crossed, he suspected, for geo-political reasons.

One suspect, Jose Roberto Gasser "was almost immediately released from custody by the Miami U.S. attorney's office," Levine wrote. (Gasser was the son of Bolivian WACL associate Erwin Gasser, a leading figure in the upcoming coup.) The other defendant saw his bail lowered, letting him flee the United States. Levine worried about the fate of Bolivian officials who had helped DEA.(See Levine's Deep Cover)

On June 17, 1980, in nearly public planning for the coup, six of Bolivia's biggest traffickers met with the military conspirators to hammer out a financial deal for future protection of the cocaine trade. A La Paz businessman said the coming putsch should be called the "Cocaine Coup," a name that would stick. (Cocaine Politics)

Less than three weeks later, on July 6, DEA agent Levine met with a Bolivian trafficker named Hugo Hurtado-Candia. Over drinks, Hurtado outlined plans for the "new government" in which his niece Sonia Atala, a major cocaine supplier, will "be in a very strong position."

Later, an Argentine secret policeman told Levine that the CIA knew about the coup. "You North Americans amaze me. Don't you speak to your own people?" the officer wondered. "Do you think Bolivia's government -- or any government in South America -- can be changed without your government and mine being aware of it?"

When Levine asked why that affected the planned DEA investigation, the Argentine answered, "Because the same people he's naming as drug dealers are the people we are helping to rid Bolivia of leftists. ...Us. The Argentines ... working with your CIA." (Big White Lie)
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
dipsydoodle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-05-09 05:58 PM
Response to Original message
10. Blimey
K & R
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-05-09 06:29 PM
Response to Original message
11. There are continual references to the current neo-nazis in Bolivia for those who take the time
to watch the news, and actually think about it.

Here's a photo of a vehicle used by some of the shock troops (usually referred to as part of the "youth movement" in racist areas of Bolivia, and Venezuela) who have been engaged in carrying clubs with spikes in the ends of them, stomping into neighborhoods of indigenous Bolivians, and beating them to a pulp. They also love to go into radio stations, etc., and attack reporters for pro-indigenous newspapers, etc.

From a typical article you would have seen last year:
Foes of Morales stage general strike in Bolivia
Tue Aug 19, 2008 4:57pm BST

The governors want Morales to stop taking energy revenue previously earmarked for the provinces to pay for a national pension scheme. But Morales says they can afford to help with anti-poverty programs because their coffers swelled after he hiked taxes on energy companies in 2006.

"Everyone is complying with the strike ... our regions need to recover these resources," protest leader Branko Marinkovic told reporters in Santa Cruz early on Tuesday before calling Morales "a dictator."

Although Marinkovic said he wanted to avoid violence, young people were seen coming in and out of his office building carrying batons and baseball bats.

Members of Bolivia's Youth Autonomous Union of Beni

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-06-09 11:37 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. These nazi groups are funded by our tax dollars thru USAID and other budgets.
That's why Evo Morales threw the U.S. ambassador and the DEA out of Bolivia in September. The U.S. (Bushwhacks) were aiding these groups who rioted, trashed government and NGO buildings, blew up a gas pipeline and machine-gunned some 30 unarmed peasants, in an effort to set up a white supremacy, mini-fascist state in the eastern provinces in control of Bolivia's gas/oil resources. All of South America rallied to Morales' side, held a meeting of the newly formed South American common market--UNASUR--and took unanimous action to re-establish peace in Bolivia, prevent its split-up and ensure a peaceful vote on the new Constitution (which Morales won decisively).

Our tax dollars at work--on the wrong side of things, as always. But--wonder of wonders--the South Americans are not going to take it any more. Well, it's not such a wonder, really. It has to do with transparent vote counting, in Bolivia and elsewhere, and long, hard work on democratic institutions. As they crawl out of the black hole we've been throwing them into for more than a hundred years, we had better learn some lessons from their experience--including transparent vote counting--as we head toward becoming the biggest "Banana Republic" the world has ever seen.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
DU AdBot (1000+ posts) Click to send private message to this author Click to view 
this author's profile Click to add 
this author to your buddy list Click to add 
this author to your Ignore list Tue Jun 15th 2021, 09:24 PM
Response to Original message
Advertisements [?]

Home » Discuss » Latest Breaking News Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators

Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC