The racist falsehoods of Andrés Soliz Rada and the Tarija based newspaper El País

Dino Beltrán

José Larrazábal

Fernando Vincenti

The daily newspaper El País (Tarija, Bolivia) continues its campaign against the APG IG, which is founded in a racist analysis according to which the APG IG's behaviour is "suspect" of undeclared intentions that puts the Plurinational State of Bolivia in danger, and that the advice they receive has the illegal intention to "dismember" Bolivia.

Andrés Soliz Rada shares this reactionary interpretation with a discourse that leaves by the wayside legality, indigenous rights and the Political Constitution of the State itself, and is ideologically poisoned by racism. He is accompanied by, among others, Dino Beltrán, Secretary of Hydrocarbons of the Government of Tarija; José Larrazábal, Executive Director of the Carriers Federation of Tarija; José Luis La Fuente, member of the YPFB Board representing Tarija, and Fernando Vincenti, President of YPFB Transporte S.A..

This discourse denies the indigenous communities - which preexist, as in the case of the APG IG, the state of Bolivia's very own existence -, any possible rational behavior, thereby denying us as citizens and also holders of rights merely because we are indigenous. Therefore, they condemn us to misery, to not have legitimate organisations that represent us, to a continuous state of slavery and servitude and they criminalise us for receiving advice. The xenophobic excuse that we receive advice from "foreigners" conceals their racist feelings, which make it impossible for them to accept the fact that we are able to legally represent "ourselves" and make decisions autonomously, legitimately and legally.

For example, the Bolivian Government appealed to an US law firm specialised in the oil industry and who drafted the operating contracts currently in force. Mr. Andrés Soliz rada participated directly in this legal strategy, or was aware of it. The APG IG considers that these contracts are marred with insuperable legal weaknesses from the point of view of the legal security of the State and of the assets to be protected. This being said, we would never accuse the Government, of which Soliz Rada was a member, of being traitors to the country because of their having had foreign advisers. At the most, we would hold them accountable for not having used the best advisers on behalf of the nation's interests.

The racist discourse is supported by the following false elements:

  • 1) It is false to state that the APG IG seeks to "veto the Extention of the Villamontes-Tarija Gas Pipeline (GTV)" and, despite this right to veto being recognised by the Bolivian Constitutional Court in its Constitutional Judgment 2003/2010-R of 25 October 2010 (notified to the APG IG on April 12 2011), the APG IG has not exercised this right yet.

  • 2) The APG IG has never opposed the Villamontes-Tarija gas pipeline. What it claims and what also accounts for the standstill in negotiations are demands recognised by the Constitution of the State of Bolivia, and by its domestic legislation, and, recently, by the Constitutional Court in the exemplar judgment aforementioned in relation to indigenous rights. It is basically a question of the following rights: the recognition of the APG IG's property rights on the Itika Guasu Original Community Territory (TCO), legal recognition by YPFBT SA (corporate successor of Transredes SA) of the APG IG as an indigenous organisation, the right to consultation -which necessarily implies direct negotiation with YPFBT SA and not with the Ministry of Hydrocarbons (MHE)-, the recognition of pending liabilities, not covered by Transredes SA, which are duly documented, and, of course, the corresponding economic compensation.

  • 3) As we have been repeating ad nauseam, the statement made by the current president of YPFBT SA, Luis Vincenti, and YPFB advisor, Luis Lafuente, to daily newspapers of Tarija and amplified by the local newspaper El País, according to which the negotiations are blocked because of a monetary claim by the APG IG for 20 million dollars, is entirely false. The origin of this false information was revealed in the January 6th, 2012 issue of El País, where the dreamt up calculation that led to the obtention of the sum of 20 million dollars was published. Once having clarified this basis, we reaffirm that this statement, deliberately false, is part of the campaign denounced by the APG IG in its communiqué dated November 15 and 22, 2011, where the reasons for the blocked negotiations are explained, this having been used as a substantial part of the racist campaign.

  • 4) Regarding the agreement signed between Repsol Bolivia SA and the APG IG on 29 December 2010, it should be mentioned that it constitutes an agreement between an indigenous organisation and the companies active in the exploitation of the Margarita gas field located on the Itika Guasu TCO, which is the property of the APG IG. This property right is recognised by INRA (Bolivia's National Institute for Agrarian Reform) and ratified by the Constitutional Court. It is, therefore, a "private agreement", which, for increased legal security, was duly registered before a notary public. There is no legal obligation for its publication just as there is no such obligation for an easement contract or any other type of contract. To which it must be added that the daily newspaper El País and Soliz Rada lack any legitimacy to request its publication; the situation is aggravated by the fact that they are using this issue as part of the clearly xenophobic and racist discourse that intends to criminalise us in the eyes of public opinion.

  • 5) Mr. Andrés Soliz Rada may request from the APG IG at its headquarters in the city of Entre Ríos, O'Connor province, a formal and in-depth explanation of the terms of the agreement, which he has never done despite the fact that he knows the leaders of the organisation to whom he promised, along with President Evo Morales, in 2006, to provide his support in their conflict with Repsol SA.

    The reason for which the State did not take part in the negotiations with Repsol Bolivia SA is due to the fact that the then-Ministry of Hydrocarbons and current president of YPFB SA, Carlos Villegas, had sent an official letter to the APG IG informing us that he considers any eventual negotiation to be a "matter between private parties", in other words, it was the Government that renounced being present in these negotiations, thereby leaving the APG IG defenseless in flagrant violation of articles 2 and 6 of the "ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries", which is part of Bolivian domestic law since July 11, 1991 by way of Law No. 1257.

  • 6) Said agreement complies with the historic demands of the APG IG, which we have been maintaining since 1997 vis-à-vis Chevron, Maxus and Repsol SA, taking very much into account that YPFB SA has also partnered with these corporations. The demands are no different from those of other indigenous organisations in Bolivia and other Latin American countries and from those provided for under international law and Bolivian domestic law, as well as specifically detailed by the Bolivian Constitutional Court in the Constitutional Judgment 2003/2010-R of October 25 2010, notified to the APG IG on 12 April 2011, to which a number of agreements on environmental damages between 1997 and 29 December 2010 should be added and also until the completion of the operating contract; said agreements safeguard the integrity of the Itika Guasu TCO from both an ecological point of view, as well as the point of view of the security of the people and assets it holds.

  • 7) As a result of the above-mentioned agreement, the Itika Guasu Investment Fund was established as was communicated by the APG IG in a communiqué dated 15 March 2011 that was published on Equipo Nizkor's documentation site and distributed in Spanish, French and English through its information lists on 7 April 2011. Said communiqué meets all necessary formal requirements from the point of view of financial practices, taking into consideration that it is a private fund, exclusively owned by the APG IG, and hence, any responsibilities must be dealt with internally and according to the Itika Guasu's uses and customs. This communiqué was "unknown" to the newspaper El País that uses it in the context of this racist campaign as if we had deliberately concealed it.

    In said communiqué, it is expressly clarified that the Fund is property of the APG IG and that its administration and disposal depends on the "Council of Sages", a traditional institution of uses and customs. As such, the statement that Repsol SA administers the fund and "pays" the indigenous organisation on a monthly basis is entirely false.

  • 8) The Fund is managed and advised by the Banco do Brasil, a banking and financial institution property of the Government of Brazil. This bank was chosen for being part of Mercosur and meeting the highest qualifications for financial guarantees, while no Bolivian bank met these requirements, nor was there a single Investment Fund in Bolivia similar to that established by the APG IG. Therefore, it is false to state that said Fund does not comply with the law.

  • 9) It is clearly false to accuse the APG IG of "fundamentalism" in relation to its actions, as they have been and are carried out in the framework of a legal strategy in conformity with the rule of law, in defense of legitimate and legal rights, as was expressly confirmed by the Constitutional Court of the Plurinational State, and, according to its uses and customs, which exempts us from qualifying the absurd, out of proportion and irrational accusations according to which we want to establish an "indigenous state", which statements conceal their disagreement with indigenous rights and the Political Constitution of the State itself, and confirms their clear racist attitude.

  • 10) Equipo Nizkor is an international human rights organisation whose activities are legally recognised in Spain and Belgium. The agreement between Equipo Nizkor and the APG IG is perfectly legal and adequate in light of our objectives. They have advised the APG IG and will continue to do so in the specific fields of indigenous rights, international criminal law and civil liberties within the framework of autonomy to which any association, whether indigenous or not, is entitled in order to manage its internal affairs, especially when they entail great legal and financial complexity.
    Entre Ríos, 9 January 2012

    Assembly of the Guaraní People of Itika Guasu and Equipo Nizkor

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