On July 20, 2010 members of Women of Color in the Global Women's Strike, GWS/LA and the weekly vigil for Haiti visited the Bolivian Consulate in L.A. Their concern: Bolivia's ongoing participation in the U.N. force that's been occupying Haiti since the 2004 coup which removed the democratically-elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The recent earthquake has been used as an excuse to further militarize most aspects of Haitian society, say sources on the ground there.
Consul General Marco Antonio Cuba engaged us in a polite manner as we made our case. It was pointed out to him that Latin America has been united in its opposition to the 2009 coup in Honduras-- yet there has been so little outcry about the 2004 coup against Haiti's President Aristide with many Latin American countries taking part in the U.N. Occupation. The continued presence of Bolivian and other Latin American forces (Venezuela has refused to participate) as part of the U.N. occupation in post-earthquake Haiti legitimizes that coup, and opens the door to further military takeovers in Latin America.
Also, Bolivia's participation in the occupation has been contrary to the efforts of President Evo Morales to oppose war and exploitation. Bolivia's own constitution is against war (and thus occupation). The delegation asked why Bolivia, which is fighting for self-determination at home, would want to associate itself with the occupation of a country whose president was removed with the backing of the same foreign power which has been trying to topple President Morales of Bolivia and President Chavez of Venezuela?
In regards to the earthquake of last January, Lynda Brewer of Women of Color GWS noted that “little has changed” and asked why the military hasn't been “helping the people move the rubble [and] feeding them? I'm sure some of them are doing that, but all these people seem to be in the way as far as we can see.
“Haitian people have shown themselves to be capable of self-organization, so if they have the resources, are allowed to get resources that have been donated, they can organize themselves."
”I have not read about it,” stated Cuba.
“That's the problem,” replied Sidney Ross-Risden, also of Global Women's Strike, “with Haiti there is very little news.”
Ruth Todasco reported on the Global Women’s Strike’s efforts internationally in support of the Haitian grassroots, including vigils in London, Guyana, and US cities as well as a letter asking for Bolivia to withdraw its troops from Haiti, which the Strike sent to President Morales
Cuba was presented with a copy of the letter to President Morales, an open letter opposing the coups in both Haiti and Honduras, and a petition by Haitian women calling for the return of President Aristide. He said he would first need to read about the issue to confirm that Bolivia has troops in Haiti before passing the documents on to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Gretta Lewis asked him to let us know as soon as possible if he finds that Bolivia has withdrawn its troops.
The group said they wanted to know what response the Bolivian government has to the concerns raised, and it was agreed to contact Sr. Cuba in two weeks.
The idea of visiting consulates of progressive Latin American governments which have troops in Haiti was first suggested by the late Don White when LA’s weekly vigil for Haiti (see: http://la.indymedia.org/news/2008/05/217447.php
) was first being organized. White was planning the visit to the Bolivian consulate at the time of his passing in June '08, and the group is pleased to be carrying on this work.