Señor Pedro Marset Campos
Dear Señor Marset,
Although it was written under his name, Forrest Hylton’s article for CounterPunch and Znet reflects a collective discussion that The Ex-Solidarity Committee for the Liberation of Pacho Cortés has recently sustained. In view of our surprise that you would accuse our compañero of defamation, we find ourselves obligated to provide a collective response to your letter (See below).
1. In the article, there were no denunciations of fraud committed by Evo Morales and his circle; rather, types of political logic and forms of political action were denounced. In this sense, your accusations lack foundation, since the denunciations to which you refer appeared in the form of opinion and conjecture, or as questions– never in the form of affirmations. As was openly admitted, “We will probably never have answers to these questions. In the end, they are less important than the differences in strategy, vision, and praxis to which they allude.”
2. We reiterate that Evo Morales and his circle have never done anything important for Pacho Cortés, although we recognize the work of some compañeros and parliamentarians in MAS, like Senator Filemón Escóbar and Congressperson Dionicio Núñez. who never skimped on solidarity efforts (even economic) for Pacho’s cause.
3. You state, “In a meeting I had in La Paz, I simply put forth the idea that I would propose to the parliamentary group of the European Izquierda Unida in the European Parliament that we assume the costs.” Let us remind you that in said meeting on the morning of January 20, in the café of Hotel Europa in La Paz, two members of the ex-Committee, Andrés Cortés, and Senator Filemón Escóbar were present. You committed to pay $15,000 for lawyer’s fees for a solid legal team capable of mounting a viable defense. After we asked your permission, you also explicitly authorized us to put out a press release, which we did that day, January 20 (see: http://www.geocities.com/. It is possible you do not remember, but you made statements to the national press regarding your commitment, and on January 20 you communicated the news to Pacho personally, by phone and in our presence. Supported by your commitment, and together with Andrés Cortés, we convinced Dr. Rogelio Mayta to assume Pacho’s defense and assemble a legal team. On more than one occasion, including a press conference at the Permanent Human Rights’ Assembly on February 3, 2004, Dr. Mayta and Andrés Cortés discussed your support in the national media.
4. If, as you say, when you returned to Europe, you found the support you had promised to provide– and announced publicly– was impossible to deliver, neither the ex-Committee nor Senator Filemón Escóbar ever received word of it, directly or indirectly.
5. The opinions expressed by our compañero in the article to which you responded are attributed to a lack of co-ordination, bad communication, and shoddy interpretation. In this regard, we remind you that since making contact– and above all, during the preparatory phase of the humanitarian mission– we made numerous efforts to communicate with organizations in Colombia as well as with mission leaders in Europe. E-mails, faxes, and phone calls were made to Belén Torres in Brussels as well as to Colombian organizations– consult Dr. Agustín Jiménez of The Committee to Defend Political Prisoners– and the Cortés family, on many occasions through the medium of Andrés Cortés, who then resided in La Paz.
6. We understand that the humanitarian mission, made up of José Bové and other personalities, undertaken June 7-9, 2004, has been positive in media terms, insofar as Pacho’s profile as a human rights activist strengthens the fund-raising drive in the international arena. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the recent media resonance was in part the product of antlike work in the media, national as well as international, which long preceded the arrival of the mission. (See: http://www.geocities.com/)
7. In this sense, we understand the logic of the mission, according to which work among the top leadership of social organizations is privileged, with the goal of raising national and international pressure to free Pacho. But we remind you that the humanitarian mission was characterized by its lack of comprehension of our local logic, which is based on being consequential, achieving concrete– if small– results, and crossing frontiers without asking anything in return. This logic should have been taken into account, above all in a country like Bolivia, in which local factors have a determinant influence on the outcomes of events, and in which conflicts, although deeply influenced by the US Embassy, are ultimately decided by interrelations among local actors.
8. Thus the few results obtained so far in Pacho’s case– results which implied great commitment on our part, in terms of time, money, personal risk, and heart– have been products of the local logic to which we refer; of the strategy, vision, and praxis to which our compañero alludes. These results, in fact and concretely, were the only ones obtained until the humanitarian mission briefly appeared in the media.
9. We are not asking for recognition or recompense, but rather respect and transparency, and so far we have received neither.
You need not worry about us, since from this moment on we consider ourselves to be completely removed from Pacho’s case, and have nothing more to add. None of us wishes to interfere with the campaign to raise solidarity money in Europe, although we do of course reserve the right to say, write, and publish whatever we think, as freedom of press and expression permit.
Nor do we wish to become obstacles in the way of Pacho’s freedom. Rather, we sincerely hope he is freed so that he and his family can be together again, and at peace.
The Ex-Solidarity Committee for the Liberation of Pacho Cortés
June 17, 2004
Mr. Forrest Hylton
Dear Mr. Hylton
I read with concern your article published in ZNet-Bolivia (1) where you denounce possible fraud that was committed by Evo Morales and his counterpart in relation to sums of money that I had sent to support the legal defense of our common friend Pacho Cortes.
These grave accusations are totally false. No one ended up with any money, simply because we have not yet sent any sum of money to anyone in relation to this case. In a meeting that occurred in La Paz, I said that I was planning to propose to a parliamentary group of the United Left in the European Parliament that these costs be assumed. But when I made this proposal upon my return to Europe, they clarified to me that the accounting rules of the European Union that control the use of funds for European political groups would not allow such a transfer of funds, so we had to look for other possibilities, none of which have come to fruition. For this reason, in your article you have committed serious defamations against Evo Morales, among other serious accusations against him and other social movement activists, which probably come from the same sources.
For this reason I demand that you rectify this information and that you publicly apologize to the people whose honor you have questioned. These rectifications and apologies should be more serious than the one that you laughingly provided at the beginning of the article to the two friends of Pacho Cortes who you also gravely defamed in a previous ZNet article (2), where you speculated that they had turned statesa*TM evidence against Pacho Cortes in exchange for their freedom, when the truth was the exact opposite, these people resisted the pressures even though it cost them their freedom.
I believe these defamatory, hate-filled articles against popular political left leaders contribute very little to the cause you claim to defend. If you plan to continue publishing, perhaps you should think more about the responsibility of the US Embassy and the multinationals in imprisoning and assassinating popular leaders.
Campos Member of European Parliament