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Home About Us Equipo Sur South-North Encuentro Bolivia - 2010 Encuentro Country Updates
Bolivia - 2010 Encuentro Country Updates PDF Print E-mail

2010 Encuentro Country Updates

BOLIVIA

By ZULEMA CALLEJAS
Instituto de Terapia e Investigación sobre las secuelas de la Tortura y Violencia Estatal

What is the situation of militarization in your country, with emphasis on how it is related to the United States?

Bolivia has a center of military instruction, named the School of San Anita or the School of Condors, designed after the School of the Americas.  It was created on October 12, 1980, during the dictatorship of Luis Garcia Mesa, and was founded by graduates of the School of the Americas, just as the instructors were alumni of that School.  It covers 14,000 hectares.  The Republic's first oil refinery operated in the same territory in 1928, making the local settlement of Sanandita into a vibrant town.  When the exploitation of the black gold ended, loneliness and misery seized the place.  The abandonment concluded when the Bolivian Condors arrived and initiated their specialized military training.  According to data, during 20 years they were able to train more or less 4,000 students; this number reflects those students who passed through the complete training program. Beginning in 1984 the institution began to receive foreign soldiers.

The training lasts approximately six months, during which the students do not leave Sanandita.  The day begins at 4:00AM.  The jungle and the desert are fitting territories to learn these sorts of techniques to attack and resist the enemy.

How does militarization affect the human rights situation?

At the level of human rights, many violations have truly been committed - crimes that remain in total impunity.  The history of Bolivia is plagued by impunity and crimes that go unpunished; unfortunately, in our country they have not carried out tribunals to determine responsiblity for genocides.  In every case many of those responsible are protected in the US.  EXAMPLES INCLUDE SANCHEZ DE LOZADA AND MANFRED REYES VILLA.

How have you all dealt with these issues?

Along with the work that I take part in with my institution, we have been organizing several consciousness-raising activities, with respect to the themes of human rights. A very important task was to carry out events in public spaces such as public plazas, the media, conferences, fora, panels, and more.  These events covered diverse topics.  We think that they had real positive results.  However, it was also dangerous because these topics bother the departmental authorities, pólice, and militaries, causing open confrontations in which they took pictures of us and threatened us in other ways.

What actions can we take together to confront this situation, and thereby contribute to a culture of peace and sovereignty in our countries?

I consider good information-clear and transparent-to be the most important thing.  In Bolivia we are really lacking adequately and correctly informed people.  On the other hand I hope that the Encuentro gives rise to a space for coordination and strong, concrete actions that permit us to act as sibling countries and to repudiate all the acts that cause us pain.  Finally, I hope that the Encuentro allows us to carry out actions together such as campaigns, fora, panels, etc.

 

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