Bomb Detonated in Bolivian Capital Outside Italian Embassy in Solidarity with Imprisoned Anarchist
In the morning hours of December 12th, a bomb exploded outside of a recently vacated commercial building located in the posh Calacoto neighborhood of Bolivia’s capital, La Paz. The blast left a meter-wide hole in the front doors of the building. According to Bolivian media, the building targeted is steps away from the Italian embassy, whose flag can be seen from the bomb site flying alongside the flag of the European Union. Authorities described the bomb as an improvised explosive device (IED).
An unknown person or group claimed the bombing a few days later. Their claim begins, “Down with the torture regime of 41 bis!” and a long quote from imprisoned Italian anarchist, Alfredo Cóspito, who began a hunger strike on October 20th, 2022. Article 41-bis of the Prison Administration Act is a notoriously hard and prohibitive prison regime that arose out of the tumultuous “Years of Lead” (Anni di piombo), a period of mid-to-late 20th century Italian history characterized by deadly political violence between the far-left and right. Since, 41-bis has been used largely to isolate hardcore members of the Italian Mafia. Cóspito, serving his sentence under 41-bis, went on a hunger strike demanding an end to the 41-bis regime for all prisoners. Fellow anarchists are also subject to 41-bis, four of whom have since joined Cóspito on his hunger strike. Additionally, three incarcerated members of the New Red Brigades/Communist Combatant Party (BR/PCC) are subject to 41-bis. (The BR/PCC is the highly capable successor to the extra-parliamentary paramilitary organization, the Red Brigades (Brigate Rosse—BR), who battled Italian neo-fascist groups in the 1970s and 1980s.)
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Alfredo Cóspito was arrested in 2012 and convicted of shooting a nuclear power executive in the leg, “kneecapping” him. He was further charged with additional alleged acts of terrorism, including a non-lethal triple bombing in 2006. Prior to his arrest, Cóspito was a well-known figure, prolific writer, and thinker within the global anarchist movement. Cóspito was also a founding member of the militant international anarchist group, the Informal Anarchist Federation (Federazione Anarchica Informale—FAI) and the associated network of the International Revolutionary Front (Fronte Rivoluzionario Internazionale—FRI). In addition to their notable links to militant anarchist organizations outside of Italy, the FAI/FRI have a considerable history of bombing campaigns and are still active today.
In their claim, those responsible for the recent bombing in Bolivia write, “From this side of the world, we express with the attack our solidarity with comrade Alfredo Cóspito, currently on hunger strike for almost 2 months in the prison of Sasari, in Sardinia, determined to continue it until the last consequences.” They mention another of Cóspito’s comrades on hunger strike, Anna Beniamino, convicted of two bombings, which the author(s) of the claim point out were also non-lethal. They go on to demand the abolition of the 41-bis regime. “This regime is applied by the Italian State to revolutionary prisoners in order to [deny] their contact with the outside world, arguing that contact encourages revolutionary actions. Under 41bis, they remain completely isolated, without correspondence or visits, in a basement with artificial air and light.”
Such a regime is not an isolated strategy, but part of the repressive escalation of the European states against anarchist milieus. Hypocritical Europe, pretending to be a beacon of good democratic manners and development, is setting repressive precedents that may spread to other latitudes, as is already happening with the long sentences. This will not happen without a response. Let us attack forcefully. Not one step back!
The claim’s author(s) makes an interesting local point about their decision to attack a target in the geographically separated outer borough of Calacoto, which stands apart from the grievance motivating the an attack on the Italian diplomatic corps:
It drizzles relentlessly and around the city of La Paz, the mountain range is covered with snow. Here, the rich live several hundred meters below, in a warm and green valley, where they have surveillance and private guards at every corner. We descend from the icy hills to interrupt the violent peace of the bosses with the loud and damaging rumble of a homemade bomb. Something becomes evident and concrete: the managers of toxicity, misery and charity are not untouchable. No peace for us, no peace for them!
They warn that they will not stop their campaign until 41-bis has been abolished, then give a salute to Cóspito’s four comrades also on hunger strike. Without offering a group, cell, or operational name, they sign off with:
Freedom to all prisoners!
Down with the prison walls!
End to the 41bis regime!
Alfredo Cóspito out of 41bis!
This is hardly the first attack in solidarity with Cóspito, though that it occurred in Bolivia is certainly noteworthy—which is not to suggest that the country is without its own robust anarchist scene. Bolivia in fact has a lively anarchist movement, much of which is couched in the struggle of indigenous Bolivians. (In September, Bolivian anarchists calling themselves “Black Vengeance- Internationalist and Anti-Patriarchal Cell, Fania Kaplan” firebombed a truck belonging to a special police service in Cochabamba.) On October 31st, a cell of militant autonomists in Germany claimed an arson attack targeting the van of a private company known to have contracts with prison facilities, which they said was in solidarity with Cóspito. One month later on December 1st, a second attack in Berlin was claimed, this one said to have targeted police vehicles. A call to action in solidarity with Cóspito was published on anarchist websites in early November, not long after he began his hunger strike.
Recently, a person or group from France claimed to have dismantled a segment of a Fessenheim-Paris Extra High Voltage (EHV) 400kv steel tower on an electrical distribution line, which they say carries power from a nuclear generating station to customers in the region. The alleged action was in solidarity with Cóspito. In Greece, anarchists detonated an improvised incendiary device (IID) beneath the official vehicle of an Italian diplomat as it sat parked in the garage of her home in Athens. A second IID, which had not exploded, was recovered beneath an adjacent vehicle. The attack was claimed in solidarity with Cóspito. The author(s) of the claim gave the operational name, “Carlo Giuliani Vengeance Cell,” in honor of an anti-globalization activist killed by police during a demonstration against the World Trade Organization in Genoa in 2001.
This is perhaps the first major attack in solidarity with Cóspito in Latin America, but as long as he remains under the 41-bis regime, and especially as long as he remains on hunger strike, attacks in countries with sympathetic pockets of the insurrectionist anarchist movement are likely to continue, especially as Cóspito’s health declines to dangerous levels. Furthermore, the relationship between European and Latin American anarchists seems to be strengthening over the last decade. Countries like Chile, Mexico, and Argentina have notably strong militant anarchist movements, with ever-deepening connections to their counterparts in southern European countries such as Greece, Italy, and Spain.