Five Top Military Officals Convicted for Roles in El Alto Massacre Print
Written by David Nash   
Monday, 26 September 2011 18:08

On August 30th, 2011, five former Bolivian senior military officials and two former ministers were convicted for killings during protests in El Alto in 2003. According to Amnesty International, a total of 67 people were killed and over 400 were injured by soldiers deployed by then-president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, who fled to the US soon after the massacre. The military officials who were convicted - Roberto Claros Flores, Jose Ovaldo Quiroga, Juan Veliz Herrera, Gonzalo Alberto Rocabado, and Luis Alberto Aranda Granados - were sentenced to 10-15 years in prison, while the two ministers were sentenced to three years.

These convictions mark the first time in which high-ranking military officials have been successfully charged in a civilian court for human rights abuses. Unfortunately, some of the most powerful architects of the massacre, including Sanchez de Lozada and at least 7 other former ministers, have escaped prosecution by fleeing the country and taking refuge in countries such as the US, Spain, and Peru.

These convictions represent an important step forward in the nearly decade-long fight for justice for the people of El Alto and those killed and harmed by the military of Bolivia (to see a first-hand account of one aspect of this fight, click here).