Preliminary report made by the Argentine observation mission in Bolivia confirms the systematic nature of human rights violations in Bolivia after the coup d’etat.
We offer to international public opinion the preliminary conclusions regarding human rights carried out by the Argentine observation mission in Bolivia, composed of a team of lawyers and social justice leaders who made visits, interviews and meetings with victims of human rights violations (Argentinean Delegation of Solidarity with Bolivia).
The observers, took about 100 testimonies and people in a safe location in the town of El Alto, were visited private homes of other victims, hospitalized people were visited and meetings were held in different parts of La Paz with urban social movements, farmers and indigenous After conducting a preliminary analysis of the information collected, this delegation states that:
From the coup d’etat, the de facto government adopted a policy of clear dictatorial and repressive dyes against the deposed authorities, the political and social leaders related to the constitutional government and the group of the most vulnerable sectors of the population, in particular the belonging to the natives peoples. They also begin to see an expansion of authoritarian practices against sectors of other political and social spaces. In this context, there have been serious violations of human rights that are systematic and therefore constitute crimes against humanity.
Human Rights Violations
We have verified that the repressive system has caused dozens of deaths, hundreds of arbitrary detentions, thousands of wounded, countless cases of urges and torture, rapes and other crimes against the physical, psychological and sexual integrity of the victims that are men, women, children, elderly and members of vulnerable groups.
This delegation was able to verify the existence of the following situations:
1. Massacres perpetrated against civilians:
a. Sacaba (Cochabamba) with at least six dead, hundreds of injured and arbitrary detentions after the Armed Forces.
b. Senkata (City of Alto) with at least nine dead, missing persons, hundreds of injured and arbitrary detentions, a consequence of the actions of the Armed Forces.
2. Forced disappearance of people
This delegation was able to verify situations of forced disappearances of people to which a significant number of people are supposed to be detained in state agencies but whose relatives have not been able to contact them and about whom the de facto government has not provided information regarding their whereabouts.
3. Tortures, rapes and sexual crimes
This delegation was able to verify situations of torture in public spaces and state agencies. Likewise, we found several cases of rape and serious sexual abuse caused by members of the armed and security forces.
We receive testimonies about these crimes, in some cases from the victims themselves and in other cases from other witnesses. The fear is installed and the events are very recent, which inhibits the actions of denunciation by the population.
4. Attacks against leaders, legislators, officials and their families
This delegation was able to verify a significant number of attacks against public officials and their families by groups of clashes with intimidation methods that included the destruction of private homes, fires, destruction of family homes, public humiliation and lynchings. The situations indicate the authorization of «liberated zones» for the action of para-police groups. Stresses are the stories that the Cruceñista Youth Union acted as the main shock group.
5. Selective persecution of leaders of social movements
This delegation was able to verify the irruption and destruction of private homes, particularly in the Alto and Chapare area, carried out by the Armed Forces, in order to capture various social, union, indigenous and peasant leaders. In addition to the persecution, all these groups have been affected by their most basic rights.
6. Preparation of blacklists of political and social leaders and denial of the right to defense
Several witnesses have reported the existence of blacklists. This situation coincides with the public statements of Minister Murillo who said: «There are senators and senators, deputies and deputies, not all, a few, that I will begin to publish their names, which are doing subversion (…). From Monday I will order, I already have lists that the same leaders of several areas are passing me, they will start stopping them with fiscal orders».
We have also found that numerous militants and political leaders, as well as overthrown government officials, who are being held, lack any procedural guarantee. In particular, they have been denied the right to defense, both private and public. In that sense, public defenders have expressed their fear of assuming such defenses.
7. Repression of public demonstrations
There were several cases of repression by the security forces and the Armed Forces with absolutely disproportionate use of violence. The stories and evidence collected describe the indiscriminate use of firearms, tear gas, shooting from helicopters, bursts of gunfire from military vehicles and beatings of protesters dispersed by force. Thousands of people were arbitrarily imprisoned and criminalized from fraudulent police procedures, and prosecuted for sedition and terrorism.
8. Manifest restriction of press freedom
The delegation has made contact with local media journalists who have reported being victims of harassment, threats and restrictions to the necessary freedom to practice their profession. The international press has also been the victim of harassment and harassment. The case of Argentine journalist Sebastián Moro is especially serious for this delegation.
9. Promotion of racism and hate speech
We have noted the use of racist and hateful speeches by representatives of the de facto government to disqualify opposition leaders and social movements. Discriminatory and stigmatizing practices on victims of repression have been verified. In addition, other forms of symbolic violence are significant, for example, the destruction of emblems of native peoples such as the Wiphala flag.
10. Denial of safe-conduct for politically persecuted with refuge requests accepted by receiving countries
We have verified that in various embassies and consular delegations there are people persecuted by the de facto government who have been denied the necessary guarantees to leave the country.
11. Inaction and cover-up of the judiciary
The judiciary is subject to de facto government. Victims and family members were coerced to change their statements, even in hospitals as a condition to be treated. We have noted a situation of absolute impediment to access to justice.
For this Delegation it was impossible to meet with officials of the judiciary, public prosecution or public defense, despite repeated requirements.
12. Police and para-police harassment of international human rights delegations, including espionage operations and illegal listening
This delegation was able to verify, in their own experience, the harassment suffered by various human rights groups. In particular, our delegation was held at the airport of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, where it was separated from the rest of the passengers and subjected to an interrogation in an isolated place, with police and military presence, in a totally unusual practice regarding immigration controls usual. Some members of the delegation were subjected to an exhaustive request for which they were required to undress. After we were allowed to continue towards our connection to La Paz, we were approached by a group of approximately twelve people in civilian clothes, in a corridor of the airport that was curiously deserted where only members of the security forces were present They let this group act. These people assaulted us verbally and physically and threatened us.
The next day, the Minister of Government Arturo Murillo, referring to the events that happened last night, said the following: «We recommend those foreigners who are arriving in the country, made the tame popcorn, to try to burn the country, to walk carefully, we are looking at them, we are following them, we are seeing what they are doing. » «In the first false step that they try to make terrorism and sedition, they will see it with the police. The police are attentive and have the order not to allow the country to be damaged, there is no tolerance for terrorism, sedition and armed movements. »
In the afternoon, a delegation group that had gone to visit a hunger strike senator in the National Assembly, were victims of harassment and harassment by shock groups there were waiting for them.
At all times, during our visit to Bolivia, we have been monitored, followed and spied on in all the activities we do.
It should be noted that the armed and police forces had a cloak of impunity for their repressive action following the enactment of Supreme Decree 4078 and the circular of Brigadier General Luis Salazar Escobar that allows establishing «military zones.»
These and other elements, together with public statements by senior officials, leave no doubt to establish the systematic nature of these violations of human rights and state crimes, which is why this Delegation considers that they fall into the category of crimes against humanity.
We call on international organizations for the protection of human rights and the entire international community to commit themselves to the protection of human, civil, political, social and cultural rights that are threatened by the current state of affairs and that have been systematically violated by the de facto government.
Faced with this situation, the opening of an electoral process in the next one hundred and twenty days, which implies the recovery of the full validity of democracy and the rule of law in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, will only be possible to the extent that guarantee the rights that are systematically violated today. In particular, we have received complaints about persecutions of political, social and trade union activists who report harassment and the absolute impossibility of exercising their right to assembly and any activity necessary for participation in said process. For this, the participation of external and independent observers who monitor all instances of the electoral process will be essential.
The Delegation will write and release, in the next few days, a full report detailing each of the cases surveyed in the framework of our visit.
Ismael Jalil (CORREPI), from the Argentinean Delegation of Solidarity with Bolivia @DelegArgBolivia