REPORT ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN
AMAYAPAMPA, LLALLAGUA AND CAPASIRCA, NORTHERN POTOSI, BOLIVIA
192. According to the elements of fact and law indicated throughout this report, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has reached the following conclusions:
193. The causes that gave rise to the tragedy at Amayapampa, Capasirca, and Llallagua are many; they have to do with the labor conflict, which was not handled appropriately; with an attempt to incorporate modern forms of production in a context characterized by expectations of the mine workers, resulting from several years of a different way of exploiting the minerals. They are also related to a situation of backwardness and extreme poverty that has predominated in an area that has known a past of great wealth, which nonetheless did not come to benefit the population as a whole. Without prejudice to the value of these or other aspects for explaining the underlying causes of the situation at Amayapampa, Capasirca, and Llallagua, the duty of the Commission is to refer specifically to the human rights situation in the events of December 19 to 22, and in particular whether the state is responsible internationally for them.
194. The Commission is not an organ entrusted with determinations as to criminal or individual liability. The Commission at this time does not have the resources needed nor are the investigative techniques available for exercising these functions. The Commission would like to recall that the international liability of a state in issues relating to human rights may be objective, i.e., not requiring intent or negligence. As in other areas of the law, for example in the case of some instances of tort liability, the mere existence of harm may give rise to liability. In addition, the state's liability may arise from the acts of subalterns and even from the conduct of individuals not institutionally linked to the state.
195. In this perspective, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights would like to point out that the events of Amayapampa, Capasirca, and Llallagua show the existence of conduct directly attributable to state agents, resulting in the deaths of nine individuals, and 32 persons wounded.(41) The Commission also looked into the murder of Col. Eduardo Rivas, and concludes that it is not attributable to agents of the Bolivian state. In order for there to be state liability, it is fundamental to determine whether the deaths that resulted from the acts of its agents are justifiable. At the same time, and especially for the purpose of formulating appropriate recommendations, the Commission should indicate at what level or rank of the state apparatus the state action is attributable.(42) Finally, the Commission must verify whether, if the events at Amayapampa, Capasirca, and Llallagua are attributable to state agents, they were duly investigated or are under investigation through actions brought by the Public Ministry or the Judiciary.
196. The Commission did not obtain any information during its visit to Bolivia that the highest-level authorities of the Bolivian state had ordered or foreseen the deaths of the nine civilians were lost their lives at Amayapampa, Capasirca, and Llallagua. Nor is it shown that there is a state policy to perpetrate systematic human rights violations. In contrast to the past, when dictatorial and authoritarian governments based the exercise of power on systematic violations of human rights, Bolivia's democratic governments, including the present government of President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, do not fall in that category.
197. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was able to verify that the police-military operation, whose purpose was to evacuate the mine workers from the mines of Amayapampa, did not have adequate control on the ground. In the opinion of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the consequences of the decisions adopted in the course of the operation may have been different had experienced political actors been involved. Indeed, at the moment when the political negotiators did become involved--Juan del Granado, Lucio Felípez, Jorge Albarracín of the Human Rights Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, and the Ministers of Interior and Defense, it was possible to stave off events that could have further aggravated the situation in the zone. The Commission holds in high regard the negotiating process that took place in Uncía on that occasion to prevent greater loss of human life.
198. The Commission considers that the mere loss of human life is not sufficient to give rise to state responsibility, for the use of force in some situations, such as self-defense, may be lawful. The Commission, in this case, is aware that in a situation in which there was opposition to establishing the police presence in the mines, the use of force proportionate to that objective is legitimate. The Commission, however, based on the many witnesses and the evidence received, has not been convinced that there was proportional use of force in any of the deaths, especially in light of the absence or insufficiency, in most of cases, of political actors on the ground to guarantee that purely police and military considerations would not prevail.
199. The IACHR has not been able to verify that all the investigations necessary in this case have been adequately undertaken by the Public Ministry and Judiciary of Bolivia for the purpose of paying compensation to the victims or the next-of-kin. Thus, for example, as of the date of the Commission's visit to Bolivia, the autopsies required by law had not been performed, despite the requests by the Ministry of Justice. This contributes to the Commission's conclusion that this is a situation that gives rise to state responsibility, even though, as indicated earlier, the Commission did not find that the events resulted from orders from the highest level of the Bolivian state. The Commission values the invitation extended by the Government of Bolivia to investigate the incidents, and considers the invitation an extraordinarily important step in the direction of terminating the state's liability in these events. Of course, this will be the case to the extent that the obligations to investigate and make adequate reparation are fully implemented.
200. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, based on the conclusions of this report, makes the following recommendations to the Bolivian state:
201. Appropriately investigate, with the Public Ministry--the appropriate organ under the Constitution--availing itself of all the relevant actions, the events in which nine civilians were killed and 32 wounded from December 19 to 21, 1996, in the localities of Amayapampa, Llallagua, and Capasirca, and to determine the individual liabilities and sanctions that may arise for the military and police agents who participated in those operations.
202. In addition, investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Col. Eduardo Rivas Rojas, and to determine the individual liabilities and sanctions that may arise from those events.
203. Review the rules regarding the use of force in internal conflicts so as to guarantee full respect for fundamental rights.
204. Pay just compensation to the relatives of the deceased, and the wounded who survived, including Dr. Rodrigo Flores, for the events that occurred at Amayapampa, Capasirca, and Llallagua. This includes compensation for material and moral damages. The material damages include both consequential damages and lost profit, while the moral damages involve making reparation to the individuals for the pain and suffering inflicted on them. These damages should be compensated not only in monetary terms, but also through measures that show the relatives and Bolivian society that events such as these are not going to recur. In other countries, some symbolic event such as a program under a foundation established especially for that purpose, a monument, a museum, or the introduction of draft legislation to improve human rights protections, or a declaration to the next-of-kin at the highest level of the state, have been very important.
205. The conditions of poverty in the zone, as well as the present characteristics of the population affected, make it advisable to carry out a form of reparation to the community, such as promoting a special program for training and social, cultural, and economic development in the area.
206. Supervise the implementation of labor and tax legislation by the mining companies that operate Amayapampa and Capasirca. The IACHR did not investigate whether there had been a violation of such legislation. Nonetheless, it did find that there is a perception among the work force that would merit a clarification in this regard. In addition, guarantee the effective operation of mechanisms for resolving collective labor disputes.
207. The IACHR hopes to have contributed, through the preparation of this report, to ensuring that the Bolivian state is sufficiently positioned so as to carry forward and successfully culminate the process of abiding by its international commitments in respect of human rights, in relation to the events that occurred at Amayapampa, Capasirca, and Llallagua, in the department of Potosí.
208. The IACHR would like to thank all those who cooperated with it and trusted in the successful execution of its mission, at the service of the protection of human rights.
209. Finally, the IACHR would like to conclude this report by reiterating its gratitude to President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada and his Government for the invitation extended to the Commission, and for the extensive and unlimited facilities it granted to carry out its functions.
Today, May 2, 1997, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights completed the on-site visit it paid, in response to an invitation from the Government of Bolivia, in order to investigate the events that took place in December 1996 in Amayapampa, Llallagua, and Capasirca, in the northern part of the Department of Potosí.
The delegation comprised the Chairman of the Commission, Ambassador John S. Donaldson and Commissioners Dean Claudio Grossman and Jean Joseph Exume. The Commissioners were assisted during this visit by Executive Secretary, Ambassador Jorge Taiana, the Assistant Executive Secretary, Dr. David J. Padilla, and by Milton Castillo and María Noel Rodríguez, who are lawyers. Mrs. Cecilia Adriazola provided administrative support.
In La Paz, the President of the Republic, Dr. Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, received the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and asked it to investigate and ascertain the truth of what happened. The Commission also met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Antonio Araníbar Quiroga; the Minister of Justice, Dr. René Blattman Bauer; the Interior Minister, Dr. Víctor Hugo Canelas; the Minister for Human Development (former Minister of the Interior at the time of the events), Lic. Franklin Anaya Vásquez; the Minister for Economic Development, Ing. Jaime Villalobos; Labor Minister, Dr. Alberto Vargas; Defense Minister, Lic. Alfonso Kreidler; and the Attorney General, Dr. Oscar Crespo.
The Commission also interviewed former Ministers: Mauricio Balcazar (Media) - Comunicación Social]; Carlos Sánchez Berzaín (Interior); and Hugo San Martín (Labor).
As part of its activities during this trip, part of the Delegation visited the scene of the events on Thursday, May 1, carrying out an inspection and collecting numerous testimonies from miners and farm workers in the area. The Commission also met at the Siglo XX University in Llallagua, with relatives of persons who died in the events and with a group of those wounded, and travelled to Amayapampa and Capasirca, where it gathered testimony from trade union leaders and farm workers. This visit had been preceded by another preparatory technical IACHR mission, composed of Assistant Executive Secretary Dr. David Padilla and Dr. Milton Castillo, the Executive Secretariat's lawyer in charge of Bolivian affairs. They also met with Government authorities and other representatives of civil society, and travelled to the scene of the events in early April, 1997.
The IACHR also held meetings with the Human Rights Committee of the Chamber of Deputies. It met Committee Chairman, Dr. Juan del Granado, and Deputies Jorge Albarracín, Lucio Felipez, Jorge Suárez, Rosario Paz Ballivian and Luis Vázquez Villamor. Senators Gonzalo Balda Cárdenas, Joaquín Aguirre Lavayen, Luis Lema Molina, Martín Quiroz Alcalá, Raúl Gallo, Valentín Abecia, and Walter Zuleta Roncal also had meetings with the IACHR.
In the course of its investigations, the Commission took testimony from Army Chief of Staff General Daniel Saavedra; Colonel Alberto Vélez Ocampo, Commander of Section III of the Army; and Lieutenant Colonel Carlos Pozo, Commander of the Illimani regiment. The Commission also received statements from General Willie Arriaza, former Commander in Chief of the Bolivian National Police.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights also received abundant testimony and information from civilians, including Dr. Waldo Albarracín, Chairman of the Permanent Assembly on Human Rights; Edgar Ramírez, leader of the Bolivian Workers Confederation; Milton Gómez and Guillermo Dalence of the Miners' Federation; and Román Loayza of the United Bolivian Farmworkers' Confederation [Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia] (CSUTCB); Rev. Roberto Durete, Director of Radio Pío XII and Chairman of the Permanent Assembly on Human Rights in Llallagua; Tomás Quiroz, Chairman of the Multiactiva Cooperative; Silvia Rojas, a leader of the Permanent Assembly on Human Rights in Llallagua; Dr. Rodrigo Flores (a doctor wounded at the scene of the events); Yerco Kukoc (former Prefect of Potosí); and Mr. David Collins, General Manager of Da Capo.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights also received the widow of Colonel Eduardo Rivas and the police officers wounded in the events.
The extensive investigations carried out by the IACHR during this on-site visit and the testimony received during it afford a complete picture of the complex and tragic events that took place in the northern part of the Department of Potosí in December 1996. As the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights pointed out in its first press release, this on-site visit was carried out under the legal framework of the American Convention on Human Rights and its Regulations and the Commission's findings will be presented in a report indicating whether or not it considers the Bolivian State responsible.
The Commission would like to express its gratitude to the Government and people of Bolivia in the person of its President, Dr. Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada; to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Antonio Araníbar Quiroga; and to the other government and state authorities for the hospitality, facilities, and cooperation they provided it would also like to thank the nongovernmental organizations and individuals whose frank, open, and valuable testimony contributed to the successful fulfillment of this mission.
La Paz, Bolivia, May 2, 1997
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights today handed representatives of the Bolivian Government its report on the complex and tragic events of December 1996 which occurred in the area of Amayapampa, Capasirca and Llallagua, in the Department of Potosi which is located in the northern part of that country.
The report was prepared pursuant to Article 41.c of the American Convention on Human Rights and Article 62 of the IACHR Regulations, after members of the Commission made an on-site visit to Bolivia (April 26-May 2, 1997) at the Government's invitation.
On July 8, 1996, the Commission complied with sections "a" and "b" of Article 62 by presenting its confidential report to the Government of Bolivia for any observations deemed pertinent by its officials. After receiving the Government's comments on July 23, the Commission reviewed, approved and released the present report at a special session held on July 29, 1997.
Washington, D.C., August 1, 1997
41. State responsibility may also arise from government actions that do not represent the exercise of their functions, and even for private acts. In both cases, the state must have failed to prevent or repress the acts.
42. No order and authorization is needed from the highest authorities of a state to give rise to state liability. State The liability may also arises from the acts of lower-level agents, who have not been duly investigated, for example, by the Public Ministry or the Judiciary, as the case may be.