GIEI: Bolivia Coup Responsible for Massacres, Torture, Racism

The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI-Bolivia) has released its report on the human rights violations of 2019. The report found that the Bolivian coup regime was responsible for massacres, torture, summary executions, and that right-wing violence had a particularly racial and religious character.  

The GIEI was formed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the full report can be read here.

“The Police and the Armed Forces, separately or in joint operations, used excessive and disproportionate force and did not adequately prevent acts of violence, leaving citizens unprotected (…). The GIEI does not hesitate to classify the events of Sacaba and Senkata as massacres ”, said Patricia Tapatá, member of the GIEI, at the official presentation of the report with the Bolivian government. 

The report investigated the period from September 1st to December 31st, 2019. It found that, during that time, at least 38 people lost their lives due to massacres and acts of violence around the country, with hundreds seriously injured. That includes summary executions by Añez regime security forces in Senkata, Sacaba, and Pedregal in the south side of La Paz. 

In addition to the killings, the report found evidence of systematic torture, as well as racial and sexual abuse perpetrated primarily against young indigenous detainees, particularly women. Religion was also used as a tool of exclusion against indigenous communities, by supporters of the coup. Pro-coup paramilitary groups also perpetrated many of these abuses.

The Añez regime invented a legal cover for these abuses through Decree number 4078 which stated that security forces can be exempt from all criminal responsibility.

The GIEI stated that they do not weigh in on debates about whether there was a coup or not. However, they do state that the security forces of a state cannot call for the resignation of a public official, which is what the Bolivian military did to Evo Morales. The expert group also found that there was no quorum in the Senate when Añez was proclaimed President of the Senate, nor was there the required quorum in the Legislative Assembly when she declared herself President.

President Luis Arce welcomed the report, and in his speech at the presentation, said “Following the suggestion of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts, we are going to deconstruct all para-police organizations and irregular groups created as forces of repression parallel to the State,” citing the Resistencia Juvenil Cochala and the Union Juvenil Cruceñista. 

Adding, “In its more than 750 pages of testimonies and narration of torture, harassment and crimes against humanity, the report tells, in a heartbreaking way, the experiences and moments of the suffering of so many Bolivian women and men, and on the basis of factual and scientific evidence, we can clearly identify the serious human rights violations, massacres and extrajudicial executions that unfortunately occurred in our country in the coup d’état, coordinated and carried out several months before November 2019 with express calls for civil disobedience and rejection of the 2019 general election results.”