The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) concluded that the events during the 2019 political crisis included “state responsibility” for the serious human rights violations committed between September and December 2019, a time when Evo Morales and Jeanine Áñez in command of the country. The events that left at least 37 dead.
It found that a massacre had taken place in Sacaba, in the department of Cochabamba, and Senkata, in the city of El Alto. The report “does not take into account whether it was a coup or election fraud”.
Between September 1 and December 31, Bolivia and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) signed an agreement in support of the investigation of violent crimes, which was signed on December 12, 2019.
The GIEI Bolivia consisted of five experts with a high professional level and recognized careers in the protection of human rights: Juan Méndez, Julián Burger, Magdalena Correa, Marlon Weichert and Patricia Tappatá.
GIEI expert Patricia Tappatá was responsible for submitting the final report to Luis Arce’s government, which contains eight chapters based on the agreement signed between the IACHR and the interim government.
The report found that “serious human rights violations were committed” during the 2019 crisis. At least 37 people were killed and hundreds of people suffered significant physical and psychological injuries in different parts of the country in this violent political conflict scenario.
“What has happened includes the state’s responsibility for acts of state agents and individuals in circumstances disproportionate in the case law of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and they have not adequately prevented acts of violence, leaving citizens defenseless,” said Tappatá on the conclusions.
The GIEI found that the response from the military and police in Sacaba was disproportionate, deliberately leading to the loss of life and serious injury to demonstrators. According to the terminology of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the deaths of the Sacaba victims are summary executions and the events as massacres.
In Senkata, they discovered a massacre involving disproportionate use of force, in which ten people were killed and around 78 people were injured. Although the Wehrmacht and the police have not admitted the use of lethal weapons, the evidence gathered indicates that the gunshots came from their troops.
In the case of the southern caravans on October 9, when then President Morales was still in command, it has been confirmed, according to the GIEI, that the clashes in Vila Vila and the attack on the miners’ caravan were the result of a polarization caused by state agents and politicians . The GIEI identified indications that members of the government were involved in the organization and support of the blockades and at least accepted the risks of acts of violence. It is therefore concluded that state officials and authorities have not only fulfilled their duty to prevent and punish human rights violations, but have also acted as accomplices, according to a summary of the report.
It describes the violence in La Paz after the October 2019 elections. It reflects the permanent political polarization among those who mobilized against the government and the demands of the government political authorities to defend his mandate.
Following a call by the then government to defend its mandate and against an alleged coup, groups of demonstrators, including farmers and miners who were moving to La Paz, marched in favor of the election result. A civilian was attacked and fatally injured during a march. The security forces did nothing to prevent the clashes and on one occasion they clearly enabled dynamite pups to be thrown at groups of opponents of the government. For days there were arguments near the seat of government about the intensive use of sticks, stones and dynamite as well as the use of gases by the police.
It describes the violent situations that arose after Evo Morales’ resignation and the mobilizations that took place between November 11 and 13, 2019 in Betanzos, Yapacaní and Montero.
On November 11, in the town of Betanzos, Potosí, members of the MAS blocking the Potosí-Sucre highway stormed the house of an opposition candidate and the police station. On November 12th, UTOP police and the military launched an operation to clear the street, but a confrontation broke out between protesters and security forces, in which Mr. Marcelino Jarata Estrada lost his life to a gun bullet in his head, and an unknown number of people were injured.
On November 13th, joint action took place in the city of Yapacaní over the unrest that had taken place there since November 10th, when groups related to the MAS attacked police stations with weapons, ammunition and equipment stolen from the police; and destruction, looting and burning of the houses of political opponents were generated. Protest groups against President Morales’ resignation blocked the Yapacaní Bridge.
On the same day, in the city of Montero, Roberth Ariel Calizaya Soto lost his life in a firearm bullet impact and Freddy Riquelme was bullet wounded during a joint operation to contain alleged vandalism by Masista sympathizers in the area of German Moreno.
The experts also pointed out that victims should receive justice and reparation for the harm inflicted on them. It states that there are those affected on both sides of the political spectrum. “A process of recomposing the social fabric is inconceivable without abandoning the notion that the victims are those of our political identity, while those identified with the adversary are fewer or require no attention.”
They believe that “the protest demonstrations and direct blockades on the streets and cities of Bolivia, which escalated into confrontations and violent aggression, did not take place unexpectedly. They were preceded by antagonistic speeches by recognized leaders and political decisions that put into tension the functioning of the participatory mechanisms of democracy and the institutions that must monitor their observance. This behavior has undermined the credibility of the institutions and ignored essential agreements for the exercise of democracy. “
They argue that those who have been victims should receive justice, redress for the harm they have suffered, and immediate treatment to heal the wounds. It stipulates that there are those affected on both sides of the political spectrum. “A process of recomposing the social fabric is inconceivable without abandoning the notion that the victims are those of our political identity, while those identified with the adversary are fewer or require no attention.”
Tappatá stated that the political arrests “have been dangerously radicalized and attempted to be used as a factor of exclusion from institutional spaces. It was called for those responsible for racist violence against indigenous peoples and women in particular to be punished.
The report was the subject of the agreement signed between the state and the IAMR, which had the following tasks: Creation of investigation plans for acts of violence against people, organizations and authorities in the country in the course of socio-political tensions, protests and social mobilizations took place in the specified period. Perform a technical analysis of the research lines developed.
In addition to making relevant recommendations, it acts as a co-adjuvant to ensure its adequacy, completeness and consistency with applicable international human rights standards. And propose that measures be taken to ensure the safety of those who take part in the investigations; and conduct a technical analysis with recommendations for a comprehensive plan of care and reparation for the victims of the incidents under investigation.
The members of the GIEI not only examined extensive documentation, but also received the testimony of a number of people such as the victims of the events, the actors in the entire political process.