Jorge Martin | 29.09.2004 15:49 | Repression
picket of Austrian embassy
These are some of the reports we have received so far on last Friday’s actions.
There was a robust doorstep discussion at the Bolivian embassy in Brussels, Belgium. “You cannot come here to the embassy and put us under pressure. These are violent methods. You are not using democratic and pacific means,” said a clearly nervous Mrs Perez from the Bolivian Embassy in Brussels. Some officials of the embassy were clearly not accustomed to the exercise of robust democratic debate.
Fifteen minutes earlier a delegation of trade unionists and student activists had peacefully asked to speak to the ambassador. As he was not present we wanted to speak to his representative. The employee who opened the door asked us to leave the embassy. As they were busy with an urgent trade deal they would call us back within a quarter of an hour. Apparently we needed to be patient and not try to speak with the embassy without an appointment. The reaction of Miguel Rubio, a shop steward from the railway workers’ union in Brussels was swift: “How can we be patient when our comrade is rotting in prison. The police of your country didn’t ask for an appointment with Cesar before arresting him and throwing him into jail”.
After our insisting and refusal to wait for an appointment, the adviser of the ambassador, Arturo Suarez came out to meet us. The miracles of lobbying! He declared that indeed he had been informed by us about the situation of Cesar Zelada and that he had transmitted all our letters to the Bolivian government. Unfortunately he hadn’t received a reply yet from La Paz. That’s why we had to come back later. Other members of our delegation then spoke explaining why they were very concerned about the lack of respect for democratic rights in Bolivia. As a conclusion we told the embassy we were going to organise a big campaign in Belgium and that we would no longer accept this kind of answers from the Bolivian authorities. The determination of an activist of the council workers’ union of Antwerp didn’t leave any doubt: “We will use all means at our disposal to inform the population and the workers’ movement in Belgium about the case of Cesar Zelada to get him free”.
We told them that important EU officials had taken up the case and next week further discussion will be held in the EU parliament. We left with the firm promise to come back.
In Vienna, Austria, a delegation of members of the Socialist Youth went to the embassy to hand in a message of protest signed by trade union and socialist youth activists. The Embassy staff refused to answer the calls of the activists and therefore the letter could not be handed in! The protest message was nevertheless faxed to the embassy.
In Venezuela a group of trade union and youth activists and international delegates from the Hands off Venezuela campaign went to the Bolivian embassy to deliver a protest message signed by a number of organisations and individuals (¡Por la liberación inmediata y sin cargos del camarada César Zelada! http://venezuela.elmilitante.org/index.asp?id=muestra&id_art=1045). Among those present was Luis Primo, member of the leadership of the Caracas UNT (National Workers’ Union).
The committee for the release of Cesar Zelada also had a meeting with some of President Chavez’s collaborators who promised to pass on the information to the president and agreed to organise an interview for next week with members of the committee.
Ali Verenzuela, spokesperson for the Ali Primera Radio Station Collective, the main revolutionary organisation in the Caracas neighbourhood of El Valle, also expressed his support for the campaign and committed his organisation to raise the matter in the El Valle Revolutionary People’s Assembly.
Members of the Committee also met with Monica Sanz, from the Bolivarian People’s Congress (CBP). The CBP showed its support for the campaign and promised to send all the relevant information to its Bolivian associates including the MAS and particularly its leader Evo Morales.
In Denmark, a message from the Parliamentary Group of the Red-Green Alliance was sent to the Bolivian authorities:
Respected Mr President,
I have been informed of the arrest of the Peruvian student leader Cesar Zelada, in your country, Bolivia, on September 14th and I am extremely worried about this.
On behalf of the Parliamentary Group of the Red-Green Alliance in the Danish Parliament, I appeal to your commitment to human rights and democracy, and ask you to do your outmost for the release of Cesar Zelada as soon as possible.
I'm looking forward to hear from you.
In Spain, the Spanish Students Union has decided to call for a demonstration in front of the Bolivian Embassy on Tuesday, October 4.
Member of the Danish Parliament and member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
1240 København K
In Spain, the Spanish Students Union ( http://www.sindicatodeestudiantes.org) has decided to call for a demonstration in front of the Bolivian Embassy on Tuesday, October 4.
In Argentina, a Committee for the Release of Cesar Zelada has been set up, supported by organisations like El Militante, FOS, the Peoples’ Assemblies of Parque Chacabucho and Flores “20 de diciembre”, Workers’ Democracy and others. They participated in the students and teachers march on Friday September 24 and a message was delivered to the Bolivian embassy. (see http://argentina.elmilitante.org)
In Rome (Italy) a delegation of members of the Communist Party (PRC) went to the Bolivian Embassy. A secretary met them at the gates saying that there was no one in. The comrades insisted, asking again for a meeting with someone in charge. He kept on saying that there was no one in, so at the end all they could do was to hand in the signatures of protest and a letter from a European Member of Parliament and leave. But within half an hour the ambassador suddenly materialized and rang one of the comrades to arrange a meeting for next Monday! It is clear that they were not expecting a letter from a MEP!
September 27, 2004
* Free Cesar Zelada – International Solidarity starts to build up (September 23, 2004)
* European Parliament Officials demand freedom for Cesar Zelada (September 23, 2004)
* Letter from Cesar Zelada from the San Pedro prison (Bolivia) (September 21, 2004)
* Urgent: Peruvian Student Activist arrested in Bolivia (September 20, 2004)