I have been intensely busy in the last few weeks working towards the International Day of Action in Solidarity with Bolivia, which culminated in 20 cities in four continents worldwide organising events with a focus on the country I love (click on photos above). The focus of the day was the call on the US to notify and extradite former President of Bolivia, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada (known as Goni) and two of his Ministers from the US.
It is an issue that has touched me ever since I met Nestor Salinas who saw his brother die slowly over 7 days in October 2003 after he was shot by the army sent in by Goni to repress protests for nationalisation of gas. Yesterday I met him on a march to the US embassy. He was crying as he had just been in the mortuary after one of those wounded in 2003 had committed suicide unable to deal with the injuries and his inability to work. Three years on the bullets sprayed across El Alto continue to kill – and none of the political leaders who authorised the massacre have been brought to justice.
Yet perhaps there is some hope. The Bolivian Government made a request for notification 16 months ago but has heard nothing. Yet yesterday with protests across Bolivia, in Parliament, in the Constituent Assembly and worldwide, the new US ambassador Philip Goldberg was forced to break the silence. The words that emerged were the weasel evasive words of politicians, passing the buck saying it lay in the hands of the State Department and that delays were due to legal reasons not political ones. But the fact that he had to speak showed pressure is building. For the sake of Nestor and all the other families I met yesterday, we need to make sure it continues to do so.