6 Jun 2008

Derek Wall condemns attack on Rosario Panozo

'As Green Party Principal Speaker I condemn the attack on Rosario Panozo. We all know that the oligarchy, the old elite, are resisting attempts by President Morales and the progressive social movements to bring equality and democracy to Bolivia. The attack on Rosario is appalling and part of a wider pattern of racist attacks on the grassroots movements for positive social change in Bolivia. Please support the protests against this attack and support the struggle for liberation in Bolivia'

The Global Women’s Strike condemns the El Alto court decision to free a violent racist and the attacks on our coordinator in Bolivia

1. Yesterday, 3 June, the co-ordinator of the Global Women’s Strike (GWS) in Bolivia was outside the Supreme Court of El Alto with another 200 people to witness the case of Roberto Lenín Santoval López, one of the racists who assaulted Indigenous and rural people in Chuquisaca on 24 May. The attacks were filmed by TV cameras and shown all over the world. Santoval and others humiliated about 30 people, forcing them to kneel shirtless and burning their ponchos and flags. The prosecutor Henry Zuaznavar – who is clearly used to dispensing immunity to the powerful elite – freed Santoval despite the evidence and the clamour for justice of all those present and of many in Bolivia and around the world who have been following these events.

2. GWS co-ordinator Rosario Panozo was then attacked by the Women’s Federation of El Alto which was also there. They told her that they would “hang and burn” her. If it were not for the other people present, Ms Panozo would have been beaten. For three years Ms Panozo has been speaking out about the corrupt relationship between the Women’s Federation and the local government of La Paz, which pays their wages. The local government is in the hands of the extreme rightwing party PODEMOS which has been involved in many attacks and Indigenous people. They oppose the changes Evo Morales, the first elected Indigenous president, is introducing to tackle centuries of exploitation and impoverishment of Indigenous and rural communities – the majority of the population.

We are reporting these attacks to women’s, community, Indigenous and rural organizations nationally and internationally. We are also reporting to the trade union federation of El Alto (Central Obrera Nacional de El Alto) to which the Women’s Federation is affiliated. We cannot allow sexism, racism and corruption to stop the advances that are being won in Bolivia and to endanger the lives of those who are fighting for change.

Please send messages condemning these racist and sexist attacks and in support of our sister Rosario Panozo:

redhuelgamund.bolivia@hotmail.com and womenstrike8m@server101.com

The Global Women’s Strike, international coordination, London

Co-ordinations in Bolivia, England, Guyana, India, Ireland, Peru, Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda, USA, Venezuela

4 June 2008

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