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Bolivia: Coup, lies and media

Bolivia’s justice system has been abused by years of political interference, but the 2019 coup d’etat surged a plague of impunity surrounding human rights violations. A panel is meeting June 26 to discuss the impact this has had on Bolivia’s citizens.


Photo Wikimedia Commons/ Paulo FabreCreative Commons License.

Elle McHale


A total of zero people have been held accountable for the events that occurred during the 2019 election-related protests in Sacaba and Senkata in which 36 people died and 833 were injured.

Excessive and unnecessary force was used by the National Police and the Armed Forces to repress demonstrations.

Witnesses claim that state forces opened fire against protesters and 21 MAS supporters were shot at the demonstrations in Sacaba, Senkata, and Betanzos.

Amnesty International has repeatedly stated: “These human rights violations have not been adequately investigated, prosecuted or punished, allowing impunity for them to persist”.

In response the organisation Wiphalas Across the World has organised the online event “Coup d’etat in Bolivia” to call for international solidarity to denounce the ceaseless list of human rights violations the government have inflicted on the Bolivian people.

This list includes the political, police and military persecution and incarceration of those believed to be resisting the coup; the criminalisation of the K’ara Kara protests; the closure of 43 indigenous radio stations and arrests of over 60 journalists; the public’s commendation of paramilitary groups who seek out indigenous towns with the purpose of harassing, beating and lynching anyone resisting the coup, and  the burning of the Wiphala flag.

Purposefully organised on Wiphala Pride Week, this global campaign seeks to demand justice for the countless victims of the 2019 coup in Bolivia whilst protesting to stop European interference in Latin America.

The campaign are striving to grab the attention of news outlets after the Coup did not make headlines due to a “complicit silence by mainstream media” because this will put pressure on the government to investigate the 2019 massacres.

During the Jeanine Áñez administration, progress of these investigations were hindered by the government’s fixation on Evo Morales supporters. Leading a series of criminal investigations, the government attempted to prosecute Morales followers for alleged sedition, terrorism, and other crimes.

However, this was investigated by the Human Rights Watch who conducted a report in September 2020 where they noted “instances of baseless or disproportionate charges, due process violations, infringement of freedom of expression, and excessive and arbitrary use of pretrial detention in cases pursued by the interim government that appeared to be politically motivated”.

Adding to this, Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said: “Independent, impartial, transparent, and thorough investigations would shed light on what happened, opening the door to truth, justice and integral reparations… Failure to act will deepen divisions, aggravating current tensions and undermining public trust in State institutions”.

In an attempt to quell discontent, a presidential decree was approved by Bolivia’s Congress in February, it applies to criminal cases that occurred between October 21 2019 and October 17 2020.

In the light of the above facts, José Miguel Vivanco said that  “granting a blanket amnesty to MAS supporters without clear criteria undermines victims’ access to justice and violates the fundamental principle of equality before the law.”

This free online event, “Coup d’etat in Bolivia”, will take place Saturday 26th June from 7:00 pm. to 9:00 pm. For further information, please visit their Facebook page.

(Photos: Pixabay)

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