REPORT ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE REPUBLIC OF BOLIVIA
As a result of the military insurrection of July 17, 1980, whereby
General Luis García Meza Tejada assumed power and thereby deposed the
Government of Mrs. Lidia Gueiler, at a meeting held on July 25, 1980 the
Permanent Council of the Organization adopted resolution CP/RES. 308 in which it
requested that , in the shortest time possible, the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights examine the situation of human rights in Bolivia.1
In accordance with the provisions of the aforementioned resolution and
taking into account the denunciations and information that had been received on
the situation of human rights in Bolivia, through a note dated August 8, 1980,
the commission addressed the Bolivian Government to request permission to
conduct an on-site observation within the territory of that country.
Edmundo Vargas Carreño
Through a note dated November 14, 1980. which made no reference to the
request for consent, the government of Bolivia replied to the Commission in the
Paz, November 14, 1980
Division General Javier Cerruto Calderón
of Foreign Affairs and Worship
Since its fifteenth session, held in September and October of 1980, the
IACHR has devoted particular attention to the situation of human rights in
Bolivia. During its fifty-first
session, held in November 1980 and which coincided with the holding of the Tenth
Regular Session of the General Assembly of the Organization, representatives of
the Bolivian Government met with the Commission.
that talk, the Commission had an opportunity to explain its concern with respect
to the information that it had received and again expressed its desire to
conduct an on-site observation so as to make an objective determination of the
real situation in Bolivia with respect to human rights.
The representatives of the Bolivian Government presented their viewpoints
on the events that had transpired in the country.
Although they did not specifically discuss the possibility of an on-site
observation, they expressed their desire to cooperate with the commission to
fulfill Bolivia’s commitment under the American Convention on Human Rights, to
which Bolivia is party.
At that same session, the Commission decided to prepare a report on the
situation of human rights in Bolivia and to take, in any case, the measures
necessary to secure the Government’s consent to on-site observations.
At its sixth plenary session, held on November 27, 1980, the General
Assembly of the Organization adopted a resolution (AG/doc.1297/80 rev. 1)
whereby it endorsed Permanent Council resolution CP/RES. 308 (432/80) of July
25, mentioned earlier in this Report, and reiterated to the Commission the
request that it prepare a Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Bolivia as
soon as possible.2
At its fifty-second session, held in February 1981, the IACHR studied the
General Assembly’s mandate and decided to again request the Bolivian
Government’s consent and to begin preparation of the respective report
immediately. Pursuant to that
decision, the Commission again addressed the Government of Bolivia in a cable
that read as follows:
of Foreign Affairs
insure that that report will be as objective as possible in describing the
situation of human rights in Bolivia, the Commission is reiterating the terms of
the note sent to your illustrious Government on August 8, 1980, which said that
it would be advantageous to have the government’s consent to an on-site
observation in Bolivia, to be conducted in accordance with article 54 and 55 of
the Commission’s Regulations.
the Commission wishes to inform you that should your Government deem it
appropriate, the on-site observation could be conducted prior to the
Commission’s next session, which is planned for next June.
would appreciate a reply from your Government before the close of the current
session, which is scheduled for March 6 of this year.
Excellency, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.
far, the Commission has received no reply.3
To comply with the mandate received from the General Assembly, the IACHR
has decided to prepare the present report, inasmuch as the Government’s
failure to give its consent to an on-site observation is not an impediment to
the proper discharge of the Commission’s obligations.
When preparing the present Report, the IACHR has taken into account all
the information provided to it by both the Government and various entities.
It has also considered the denunciations of alleged violations of human
rights presented to it. Further,
among the material that the Commission has been able to secure are
constitutional and legal ordinances, which have been analyzed carefully.
The Commission wishes to repeat that the inclusion of individual cases
whose processing has not been completed does not imply any prejudgment on the
substance of the cases. The final
verdict on each individual case will be given when the regulatory processing has
The present report is limited to the events that have transpired since
the military insurrection of July 17, 1980, and examines the situation of human
rights in Bolivia up to September 1981.
Generally speaking, this report follows the format used by the Commission
when preparing other studies on the situation of human rights in various
countries. Basing itself on the information it has been able to secure,
the IACHR has divided the report into separate chapters which examine the
principal rights set forth in the American Convention on Human Rights or the
Pact of San José, Costa Rica.
Resolution of the Permanent Council on solidarity with the
The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States, Considering:
The principles established in the Charter of the Organization,
especially those expressed in Article 3, paragraph d) and j); the American
Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man; and the Declaration of La Paz,
adopted by consensus at the ninth regular session of the General Assembly;
and Bearing in mind:
That each state has the right to develop its cultural, political, and
economic life freely and spontaneously and that in this free development,
the state shall respect the rights of the individual and the principles of
universal morality, as set forth in Article 16 of the Charter of the
Organization; That this precept has been violated by the military coup that
has taken place in Bolivia in disregard of the elections recently held in
that country; and with respect for the principle of nonintervention, Resolves:
1. To deplore the military coup, which indefinitely suspends the
process of democratic institutionalization that was culminating in the
Sister Republic of Bolivia.
2. To express its deepest concern over the loss of human life and the
serious violations of the human rights of the Bolivian people, as a direct
consequence of the coup d’état.
3. To request that, in the shortest time possible, the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights examine the situation of human rights in Bolivia.
4. To express its solidarity with the Bolivian people and its
confidence that they will find the most suitable means to maintain the
viability of their democratic institutions and their freedoms.
Follow up of the Situation of Human Rights in Bolivia.
Resolution approved at the sixth plenary session held on November 27,
On July 25, 1980, the Permanent council of this Organization approved
resolution CP/RES. 308 (432/80), The General Assembly – Resolves:
endorse resolution CP/RES. 308 (432/80) of July 25, 1980 whereby the
Permanent Council of the Organization of American States resolved to deplore
the military coup in Bolivia, which indefinitely suspended the process of
democratic institutionalization that was culminating in that sister
To repeat to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that, in
the shortest time possible, it prepare a report on the situation of human
rights in Bolivia, to be considered by the competent organ of the regional
In a communication dated October 9, 1980, the Government of Bolivia
invited the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to inspect conditions
in the country.
In response to that invitation, on March 11, 1981, the United Nations
Commission approved the sending of a special delegation.
Further, representatives of the International Labour Organisation
visited Bolivia in October 1980.
Three representatives of Amnesty International visited Bolivia from
November 12 through 25, 1980.