A group of some 50 indigenous mayors, town councillors and community leaders, gathered in Sucre, Bolivia, for an appearance by President Evo Morales May 25, were subjected to public humiliation by a right-wing mob—forcing cancellation of the public ceremony called to deliver 50 ambulances and other aid for rural communities. Organized groups opposed to Morales surrounded the stadium where he was to appear, confronting police and soldiers with sticks, stones and dynamite. Morales cancelled his visit, and the security forces were withdrawn to avoid bloodshed.
But protesters associated with the Interinstitutional Committee, a conservative pro-autonomy group, continued to harass and beat supporters of the governing Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) and anyone who appeared to be indigenous. One group of indigenous MAS supporters, who had sought refuge in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Sucre, were surrounded by the rightist protesters, stripped of their few belongings, and forced to walk seven kilometers to the House of Liberty—where Bolivian independence was declared in 1825. In the city’s main square, they were forced to kneel, shirtless, and publicly apologize for coming to Sucre. They were also made to chant insults like “Die Evo!” The rightist militants also set fire to the blue, black and white MAS party flag, the multicolor flag of the Aymara people, and colorful hand-woven indigenous ponchos seized from the visiting Morales supporters.
Sucre Mayor Aidee Nava and the Interinstitutional Committee immediately apologised after the incident. Morales called on Sucre officials to bring those responsible to justice. (IPS, May 31 via Green Left Weekly)
See our last post on Bolivia.