Nº 1798, presented by a communication dated February 9, 1974
denounces the death of a number of peasants who had demonstrated against
the Government in Cochabamba. Furthermore, it denounces the arbitrary
arrest of lawyer Benjamín Miguel Harb, who had allegedly been held
incommunicado in a jail in La Paz since January 20 of that year.
the communication did not meet all the requirements set forth under
Articles 38 and 54 of the Regulations of the Commission, in a letter
dated February 19, 1974, the Commission requested that the claimants
supply the necessary information.
claimant, in a communication dated July 19, 1974, added to the
denunciation concrete data on the above-mentioned events.
Commission, in a note dated October 11, 1974, requested the Government
of Bolivia to provide the appropriate information, in accordance with
Articles 42 and 44 of the Regulations. A copy of that note was
transmitted to the Delegation of Bolivia, to the Permanent Council of
the OAS on October 17 of that month. In a communication dated November
11, 1974, the claimant was informed of the steps that had been taken
with regard to the ease.
its thirty-fifth session (May 1975) the Commission continued to examine
the case, observing that the Government of Bolivia had not provided the
appropriate information and that the 180-day period provided for under
Article 51 of the Regulations for transmittal of this information had
elapsed. Therefore, it agreed to apply the provisions of Article 51.1,
presuming confirmation of the events on which information had been
keeping with that agreement, the CIDH approved the following resolution
(OEA/Ser.L/V/II.36, doc.19 rev. 1 of October 14, 1975) at its
thirty-sixth session (October 1975).
a communication of July 19, 1974, the following events were denounced:
and subsequent expulsion of Benjamín Miguel Harb, a Bolivian lawyer
to the denunciation, Benjamín Miguel Harb, a Bolivian Lawyer and
Chairman of the Christian Democratic Party in Bolivia, was arrested on
January 21, 1974, in La Paz (Bolivia), for having criticized, through
the press, the economic measures implemented by the Government of
Bolivia in mid-January.
denunciation specified that the arrest of the above-named individual was
carried out by agents of the Dirección de Orden Político (Political
Order Bureau) (DOP), without any formal warrant from a competent
authority and without making a charge as to violation of law; this
individual was detained until February 15, 1974, (twenty-five days)
during which time he was hold incommunicado in a police cell for seven
days, and was allowed to see his family for ten minutes on only two
occasions; for the entire period of his arrest, no statement was taken
from him but steps were taken "illegally, to make a file on him by
taking photographs, treating him as if he were a criminal sentenced by a
for his expulsion from the country, the denunciation reads as follows:
months after having been given conditional freedom, on May 12, 1974,
BENJAMIN MIGUEL HARB was unconstitutionally and illegally exiled from
Bolivia to Paraguay, where he remains today. Three top-level leaders of
the PDC-PRA-MNRI Alliance were exiled with him. As grounds for this
measure, the Minister of the Interior cited "supposed violations of
Political Constitution of Bolivia states that no one can be detained for
more than 24 hours without a judicial order. As a means to protect
personal freedom, the Constitution provides for the remedy of
"habeas corpus", but judicial authorities under political
authority do not allow recourse to this legal remedy."
regression of demonstrations by farmers protesting the Government's
this regard the denunciation states: The repression by the Army was
brutal. One of the bloodiest massacres in recent Bolivian history took
place. More than one hundred farmers died. The Army’s repression of
the demonstration was extremely violent in the Department of Cochabamba
where the number of deaths is as follows: in Punata, Totora and in
el Valle, 49 dead; in Sacaba 35 dead. The names of the victims are
not known and the authorities have not denounced an investigation into
Seventh Division of the Army, under the command of General Carlos
Alvarez, which was told to... "reestablish calm" in the
Southeastern department, admitted to only 25 deaths. Subsequently,
General Alvarez himself summarized the philosophy upon which the action
taken by the Government was based by stating: "A few deaths don't
matter if the majority will be happy."
Bolivian Bishopric categorically and clearly condemned this act of
accordance with the power conferred upon it by virtue of Article 9 (bis)
of its Statute, the Commission requested the Government of Bolivia,
through a note of October 11, 1974, to provide the appropriate
information, transmitting to it the pertinent parts of the communication
in question, as prescribed in Articles 42(1) and 44 of its Regulations.
A copy of this note was sent on October 17, 1974, to the then Alternate
Representative of Bolivia on the Permanent Council of the Organization
of American States.
its thirty-first session (May 1975), the Commission noted that the
Government of Bolivia had not yet provided the information requested and
that the 180-day period provided for under Article 51 of the Rules of
Procedure had elapsed.
51 of the Rules of Procedure reads as follows:
The occurrence of the events on which information has been
requested will be presumed to be confirmed if the Government referred to
has not supplied such information within 130 days of the request,
provided always that the invalidity of the events denounced is not known
by other elements of proof.
The commission may make an extension to the term of 180 days in
cases in which it finds it justified.
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS; RESOLVES:
presume confirmation of the events denounced in the communication of
July 19, 1974, in application of Article 51 of the Regulations.
bring to the attention of the Government of Bolivia the fact that these
acts constitute serious violations to the rights to life, liberty and
personal security, to a fair trial and to protection against arbitrary
arrest, embodied in Articles I, XVIII, XXV of the American Declaration
of the Rights and Duties of Man.
recommend to the Government of Bolivia that:
launches an investigation on the events denounced;
grant to Benjamín Miguel Harb, Bolivian lawyer, the necessary
guarantees so that he may return to Bolivia in full enjoyment of his
adopt the measures necessary to sanction those responsible for the
deaths and acts of violence that took place during the repression
referred to in the second part of the denunciation and to grant to the
heirs of the victims of these events the indemnizations and reparations
due according to Bolivian Law.
request the Government of Bolivia to report to the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights no later than December 31, 1975, on the
measures it has taken pursuant to the recommendations made in paragraph
3 of this resolution.
include this case in its Annual Report to the General Assembly of the
Organization of American States, in accordance with the provisions of
Article 57 of the Regulations of the Commission, should the Government
of Bolivia not duly provide the information requested in operative
paragraph 4 of this resolution.
bring this resolution to the attention of the Government of Bolivia and
of the claimants.
resolution was conveyed to the Government of Bolivia through a note of
December 1, 1975, and to the claimants, through a note of December 3,