The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Monday, November 17, 2003

By chance, a story of dirty dealings from Evo Morales' back yard

Again, no play-by-play - I'd treat the stuff very much as single-source. But I mention the story as giving a little local colour to the pieces on Morales I mentioned earlier today.

It seems that, in the heartland of support for Morales and his MAS party - the Chapare provincia [1] - a latifundista [2] called Valentín Sevilla muscled in on some land owned by some banana farmers; naturally, they took exception, a fight ensured, and the bananeros wound up in the local hoosegow or panóptico [3].

A story to gladden the heart of the engagé gringo hack - with the rich guy (plural, in fact - there is a Sevilla clan, it seems) oppressing the poor but honest peasants. Even more so when he sees that Sevilla works closely with an outfit called Development Alternative Inc. (DAI) - which is described as a
proyecto de USAID que trabaja en la subvensión de cultivos sustitutivos de coca

The Auld Alliance between the Land of the Free and the our sons of bitches in full working order! DAI even lent Sevilla the support of their outside legal advisers, apparently. (The local group of alternative development producers, UAPANTROP, is, naturally, generously supported by DAI - and not very popular with the cocaleros. Sevilla is a member, natch, but quite what UAPANTROP does apart from passing on Uncle Sam's largesse, I'm not clear.)

Opponents accuse him of involvement in
loteamiento ilícito de áreas verdes y propiedades municipales en otras provincias de Cochabamba
as well as previous land seizures along similar lines to the banana-growers' case.

There are allegations of judicial shenanigans on Sevilla's behalf; a court official says he witnessed Sevilla beating up a guy whose land he had seized and who was suing to get it back; and much more.

The press has, it seems, taken the side of Sevilla; the story is that the farmers
eran cocaleros que iban a linchar al pretendido productor de bananas por no haber cooperado con el MAS durante los bloqueos.
The journo has been to the farms and found no coca - the eradication boys had been round and UMOPAR, the US-funded anti drugs police are on the spot, making coca cultivation less than straightforward.

And where is Morales' MAS in all of this?
El Movimiento al Socialismo y la Federación de Campesinos del Trópico de Cochabamba, brazo político y ente gremial de los cocaleros, respectivamente, no se han interesado en el destino de los bananeros.

Los cocaleros, que sostienen una velada guerra de posiciones con el DAI y USAID para la no-sustitución de cultivos de coca, consideran a los bananeros como "disidentes" del movimiento cocalero.

Some campesinos are more equal than others, it seems.

  1. Bolivia is divided into various departamentos, each of which is further divided into provincias. Chapare is in the north of the departamento of Cochabamba.

  2. His 'spread' runs to all of 570 acres!

  3. The story told in pieces from November 14, November 15 and November 17.

  4. To obtain an interdicto against Sevilla's interfering with his land - I think.

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