Bolivia Cielo Veizaga sports interview

Meet Bolivia’s revolutionary 19-year-old vice-minister of sports

The Grayzone speaks with Bolivia’s 19-year-old Vice-Minister of Sports Cielo Veizaga about persecution by the former coup government and the role of women in the ruling Movement Toward Socialism party.


BEN NORTON: Bolivia’s democratically elected government, led by the Movement Toward Socialism party, has appointed the captain of the country’s national women’s soccer team, 19-year-old Cielo Veizaga, as vice-minister of sports, making her the youngest member of the new government.

We at The Grayzone interviewed Cielo Veizaga in La Paz back in October. She spoke about the persecutions and killings committed by the unelected coup government, and called for justice for its victims.

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BEN NORTON: What is the importance of the role of women in the MAS (Movement Toward Socialism party) and the popular struggle here in Bolivia?

CIELO VEIZAGA: Truly very important, the role that women play in Bolivia. One of our leaders, a representative of women, is our sister Patricia Arce, who has given everything, even her life, for this process of change, for all women.

And now the whole world knows that women in Bolivia are brave and courageous.

MAX BLUMENTHAL: Can you say something about the struggle in the Chapare region in the past 11 months?

CIELO VEIZAGA: Truly we, as athletes, have been very sad, because of this coup d’etat that was carried out, with the de facto government, because it got rid of two of our ministries, one, the ministry of sports, the other, the ministry of culture.

And as athletes, we were truly sad due to the loss, because it was the only support we had, with our brother, President Evo Morales. And in those 14 years (of Evo in power), sports were supported like never before.

So we as athletes have sacrificed a lot, during this coup d’etat, and during the elections, because there has been persecution, there have been deaths, there have been family members who have lost their fathers and mothers, children have been left alone. And it hurts; it truly hurts.

And this is what we have seen, as youth. This truly is the dictatorship, which many claimed we had under Evo, but in reality this is the actual dictatorship that we lived through in these 10 months.

MAX BLUMENTHAL: And can you say something as well about the struggle for justice (after massacres) in Sacaba and Senkata?

CIELO VEIZAGA: Of course, let’s emphasize that there have been deaths (across the country), from Montero to Yapacaní, Senkata and Sacaba. So we can’t forget.

Maybe there are many saying it’s over. But no, we can’t forget that, ever. And there must be justice.

And that is going to remain in history; we are all going to remember it forever, that this government with Jeanine Áñez has been the worst government.