Bolivia: pro-MAS faction takes CONAMAQ office

The police-besieged offices of the divided Aymara indigenous organization CONAMAQ in La Paz were turned over on Jan. 15 to leaders of the faction aligned with Bolivia's ruling Movement Towards Socialism (MAS). The pro-MAS faction, led by Hilarión Mamani, marched on the two-story building in the city's Sopocachi district, which was surrounded by a double cordon: first, a phalanx of riot police, then a vigil by supporters of the independent "organic" faction. Mamani's group, some 300 strong, reportedly advanced on the vigil, sparking a brief fracas. "Organic" CONAMAQ said in a statement that Mamani rejected an offer of dialogue on the spot, and that two "organic" leaders, Félix Becerra and Cancio Rojas, were physically threatened. Mamani and his group were then allowed to pass into the building by police, who were supposedly under orders to secure it from either faction until the dispute is resolved. (Erbol, Página Siete, La Paz, Jan. 15)

Rojas, the arquiri apu mallku (vice president) recognized by "Organic" CONAMAQ, now says his organization will consider a complaint against the Evo Morales government before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CIDH). (Los Tiempos, Cochabamba, via Eju!, Santa Cruz, Jan. 16)

In a related incident two days later, followers of the MAS-aligned Bartolinas Sisa Confederation of Campesina Women occupied the offices of the Permanent Human Rights Assembly of Bolivia (APDHB) to bar entry of CONAMAQ supporters. APDHB had provided office space to CONAMAQ, which was taken over by the occupiers, with the CONAMAQ materials ejected from the premises. The occupiers were reportedly led by Teresa Subieta, president of La Paz section of the Permanent Assembly of Human Rights. (Erbol, Jan. 18; ANF, Jan. 17)

The Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations (CAOI) issued a statement saying it "energetically condemns the violent taking of the CONAMAQ House of Government on the part of the authorities and a mob of 300," and "profoundly laments that the government of President Evo Morales has refused to maintain a direct dialogue with the legitimate authorities of CONAMAQ." (Territorios en Resistencia, Jan. 15)