ALBA-Switzerland Committee: The De Facto Government in Bolivia and its Crimes Against Humanity

20.01.20 23:14

Since the elections of October 20, 2019, Bolivia has been going through the worst political crisis in its history. The Electoral Tribunal confirmed the victory of Evo Morales by 47.08% of the votes cast with a difference of more than 10% (648,180 votes) over the candidate Carlos Mesa, which was enough to win the elections in the first round.

The first allegation of fraud by the OAS triggered violence from opposition shock groups that burned down departmental electoral offices and headquarters of the Movement Towards Socialism MAS-IPSP party.

Many authorities such as the mayor of Vinto in Cochabamba Patricia Arce, the former deputy minister of intercultural affairs Feliciano Vegamonte, the president of the chamber of deputies Victor Borda, the minister of mining Cesar Navarro and their families, were kidnapped and brutally attacked forcing them to resign their posts.

The mutiny of police forces throughout the country and the confinement of the Armed Forces to barracks gave rise to a campaign of terror against “masismo” (movement in support of the\MAS), whose members were threatened, kidnapped, tortured, their homes burned down in an atmosphere of total impunity, forcing them to resign if they happened to be in a position of authority like the mayor of Vinto in Cochabamba.

With the suggestion that the President Evo Morales resigns made by the commander of the Armed Forces, on November 10, Morales was forced to resign decision he took with the hope it would put an end to opposition violence and of its shock and paramilitary groups

Once the coup was completed with the resignation of Evo Morales, the repression of the paramilitary groups supported by the Police and the Armed Forces was unleashed, calling the demonstrators who defended the government “mobs”, “vandals”, “radicals” or “delinquents”. The social networks and the majority and almost hegemonic private media waged a propaganda campaign in support of the coup d’état.

The president of the Santa Cruz Civic Committee, Fernando Camacho, the main leader of the paramilitary gangs, threatened “masistas”, government authorities and businessmen in Santa Cruz who are sympathetic to the government of Evo Morales, with having a list of traitors ready to be eliminated in the style of Pablo Escobar in Colombia.

The opposition to President Evo Morales’ government formed armed militias that had the open support of the Bolivian Police. Groups such as the Unión Juvenil Cruceñista, characterised by the International Federation of Human Rights as a “paramilitary fascist group”, were the main executors of the repression.

The media of campesino organizations such as the CSUTCB (Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia – United Confederation of Rural Workers of Bolivia), whose director, José Aramayo, was tied to a tree and tortured, were assaulted and destroyed, as were those of grassroots social organizations such as community radio stations (RPOs), or BTv, the state television channel. Upon being singled out as supporters of the government, journalists and public service media workers were attacked, humiliated
and prevented from working.

A list of places to blockade was circulated through social networks, including the headquarters of ministries and other state institutions, residences of government officials and the diplomatic missions of Cuba and Venezuela. As a result of false accusations, violent groups began the permanent harassment of these embassies and the constant persecution of their diplomatic personnel, until they force them to leave the country. These violent actions violate international law, the Vienna Convention and other international treaties.

As verified by the human rights organizations that came to the country, on November 15, a march of peasants from the six federations of the Tropic of Cochabamba was fired at in Sacaba with nine deaths and dozens of wounded. Through videos recorded by the peasants themselves, the use of war weapons was made evident. The Armed Forces acted on that day under the protection of Decree No. 4078, which allowed them to use war weapons exempted from responsibility over its consequences.

The same thing happened in Senkata, El Alto, causing the death of at least 10 people and dozens of wounded five days later. The repressive forces made up of the Police and the Armed Forces indicated that they acted against “terrorists” who wanted to provoke an explosion at the gas plant. The social movements, members of the former government, peasants and indigenous people who were demonstrating against the coup d’état are being assassinated, with a total of 35 dead and more than 800 wounded.

On November 25, members of the paramilitary arm of the de facto government occupied the headquarters of the Santa Cruz Federation of Peasant Workers to burn their equipment and documentation. These operations continue to this day. On Friday, January 17, it was reported that the antennas of the ENTEL Company that provided access to cellular and radio communication services were eliminated in several rural provinces.

On December 6, the de facto government approved Decree No. 4100, whose purpose was to compensate the families of the 35 dead and hundreds of wounded from the police and military repression,on condition that they abandoned taking the case to the United Nations or other human rights organizations.

In this regard, the IACHR (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights) expressed concern about the decree, because it included a clause that would make it impossible for victims to appeal to international bodies to denounce the crimes of which they were victims in violation of international treaties such as the Treaty of Rome, which provides for the principle of imprescriptibility with respect of crimes against humanity. The IACHR Observation Mission, which gathered numerous testimonies of the Sacaba and Senkata massacres, denounced that in Bolivia there is “no guarantee of independence of the judiciary”.

Persecution, arbitrary arrests, and death threats against former authorities of the Evo Morales government, as well as against leaders of social organizations and MAS have been daily occurrences.The judicialization of social protest and freedom of expression(burning homes,lynchings,racist attacks,etc.) is evident.

The Bolivian Ombudsman’s Office has also suffered harassment, mainly in the city of Cochabamba, both in the offices of this entity as well as in the private homes of its representatives and their families.

On the other hand, the permanent harassment of the embassy and residence of Mexico violates all international conventions and agreements that protect diplomatic representations from all countries. The non-issuance of safe-conduct for people who have applied for political asylum, which besides, has been granted by that country, is a flagrant violation of people’s human and political rights.

It is worth noting the persecution of senior officials of the Morales government who are sheltered in the Mexican embassy in La Paz and who are denied the issuance of safe conduct to leave the country, such as the Minister of the Presidency, Juan Ramón Quintana; former minister Hugo Moldiz; Culture Minister Wilma Alanoca; Oruro Governor Victor Hugo Vazquez; e-government director Nicolas Laguna; Defense Minister Javier Zavaleta; Justice Minister Hector Arce, Mining Minister, Cesar Navarro and others.

It is clear that the accusations against the former authorities are part of a strategy of political-judicial persecution, known as “Lawfare”, which aims to eliminate the political participation of the MAS-IPSP in the upcoming elections scheduled for May 3.

The de facto government minister, Arturo Murillo, stated that he would go on a “hunt” against members of the ousted government and the MAS. He made public his intention to take Evo Morales to the International Criminal Court in The Hague “for crimes against humanity”,blaming him for the 35 deaths, even after his resignation and exile from the country.

The massacres of Senkata, Sacaba, Huayllani, Ovejuyo, etc., were documented by different international human rights organizations and by friendly countries. The first-hand information gathered by these organizations gives testimony to the brutality of the coup d’état in Bolivia.

The use of adjectives that are offensive and denigrating because of their discriminatory content is frequent on the part of the de facto government, such as referring to “savages,” “narcoterrorists,” “vandals,” “criminals,” etc., to members of Evo Morales’ government and the social organizations that support it, as well as international human rights observation missions, the Ombudsman’s Office, and even journalists, calling them “digital warriors” or “computerised terrorists”.

Murillo, celebrates and boasts about the fear sown in people for “pacification” through police/military brutality against the subversion of the “indigenous and masista hordes”. They “kill each other”, ‘We will not tolerate terrorists or seditionists, we are watching them,’ he says.

The de facto government imposed by the violence of the paramilitary and police groups, as well as by the Armed Forces, eliminated fundamental rights to protest and to vote, not recognised by the elites that now govern the country as they had done during the 180 years of the hitherto colonial and exclusionary Republic.

The de facto government has militarized the country and repressed any kind of protest by making shows of force with military and war weapons in the streets of the main cities of Bolivia.

The argument and the reference to a terrorist threat, the denunciation of the existence of subversive nuclei or armed mass-oriented seditious groups justify the need to create Special Police Units for the fight against terrorism supported by the Israeli government as the de facto minister Murillo himself claims. This is the justification for more violence and repressive state brutality.

The existence of seditious and terrorist activities is confirmed so as to justify the repression, the impunity is granted to the military forces to massacre indigenous people, the country is militarized and shows of force with the use of weapons of war are carried out.

The systematic violation of human rights, public freedoms and individual rights and guarantees is an obvious result of the existence of a dictatorial regime imposed through a civic, police and military coup.

Eliminating all sources of independent information is part of the strategy of implementing a total media censorship.

Human rights bodies around the world must press for an end to the political persecution and repression led by paramilitary gangs protected by the police and the military.

For the above reasons:

We condemn the coup d’état executed and financed by anti-democratic Bolivian right- wing forces and other foreign forces that seek to regain control of the country’s important natural resources such as Lithium and Gas.

We strongly condemn the messages of hate and racism, as well as the extreme violence perpetrated by the supporters of the anti-democratic radical right against the indigenous, peasant peoples.

We strongly condemn the “Lawfare” of the de facto government that has deployed a perverse machinery of political persecution through continuous media lynching, fabrication of legal cases and permanent violation of every convention, international norm, and constitutional norm of Bolivia.

We urge the Armed Forces and the Bolivian National Police to guard and protect, above all, the life and dignity of every person in Bolivian territory, regardless of their political affinity or nationality, as well as to respect the immunity of diplomatic representations and protect their officials, asylum seekers and facilities.

We urge the UN Commission for Human Rights that, on the bases of the reports, investigations and testimonies from the IAHCR, Bolivia’s Ombudsman Office and other HH.RR. organisations, unequivocally condemns the systematic violation of the citizens’ rights, the brutal repression, the killings and all other abuses perpetrated by the de facto government, facts on which it urgently elaborates a report on the human rights situation in Bolivia.

We call on all democratic forces to condemn this violent coup, as well as the daily violations that infringe all individual, social, legal, cultural and political freedoms of the immense majority.

We also urge you to continue to denounce this coup d’état before all international bodies, the press and the authorities of all the States of the world.



Switzerland, 19 January 2020

Firmantes / Signatories / Signataires / Unterzeichnende:

Suiza :
1. ALBA – Suiza
2. Asociación Suiza – Cuba
3. Asociación Aipazcomun
4. Patricia Salomon Aldunate
5. Cristian Saavedra Salomon
6. Amanda Fluri
UK – Reino Unido :
8. Héctor Fernandez, SUMA QAMAÑA
9. Dr Francisco Dominguez, Middlesex University

Bélgica :
11. Red Europea de Asociaciones Chilenas por los Derechos Cívicos y Políticos
Suecia :
12. Asociación África, Latinoamérica, Suecia y Gambia
13. Musa Bangura, Presidente de la Asociación África, Latinoamérica, Suecia y Gambia
14. Eduardo Miranda, Secretario de la Asociación África, Latinoamérica, Suecia y Gambia
Nicaragua :
15. ÁBACOenRed, iniciativa pedagógica con proyección nuestramericana
16. Herman Van de Velde, pedagogo
España :
17. Plataforma Global contra las Guerras Internacional con sede en España
18. Patricia Silvia Mascuñan Tolon
Francia :
19. Alex Anfruns, periodista independiente
20. Romain Migus, écrivain et journaliste

Venezuela :
21. Francisco González, abogado activista internacional en derechos humanos
22. Thierry Deronne, realizador
Italia :
23. ALBAInFormazione
México :
24. Dr. Gilberto López y Rivas, profesor investigador del INAH Morelos, articulista de La Jornada

Fuentes / Sources: