University of Minnesota

Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Bolivia, Inter-Am. C.H.R., OEA/Ser.L/V/II, Doc. 8 rev. 1 (1997).




According to information provided to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the events that occurred were as follows:


22. The events covered in this investigation took place in the mining districts of Amayapampa, Capasirca, and Llallagua. These three areas are in the province of Bustillos, located in the northern part of the department of Potosí. This department, with a centuries-old mining tradition, is considered even by the government authorities as one of the most economically depressed parts of the country.

23. The immediate cause of the economic depression in this region is the crisis in mining activity which has come about because of the fall of the international tin price in 1985. The 70% price drop at that time led to a severe reduction of mining activity because of the fall in the rate of return. Since this is an arid mountainous region with little vegetation, farming activities are on a small scale and for subsistence purposes. For this reason mining and related activities have been the major source of employment for decades.

24. A half-century ago, Bustillos province was the fastest growing part of Bolivia. The tin boom provided the area with highways, hospitals, and an airport. The towns of Uncía, Llallagua, Cataví, and Siglo XX were large production centers where trade union organizations took deep root and had a strong presence, in both negotiating working conditions and wages for their sector, and more broadly in national politics. As is well known, the miners' unions played a leading role in the triumphant revolution of 1952 and in the struggle against the dictatorship in the early 1980s.

25. The importance of this area in terms of production, the concentration of workers, the difficulty of working conditions, and the strong trade unions are factors that explain the high level of labor and social strife in recent decades in Bustillos province. On several occasions, the security forces that intervened for repressive purposes took a heavy toll of victims among the miners and their families. Of particular note are the massacres that occurred in 1942, 1949, 1965, and 1967.

26. The immediate background to the conflict in the mining districts of Amayapampa and Capasirca goes back to early 1996 when both gold mines were bought (Capasirca on March 15, 1996, and Amayapampa on April 10, 1996) from their Bolivian owners by the Da Capo Resources mining company, a Canadian company, which later became part of the Vista Gold Corporation. The existence of new management sparked tension with the workers, especially at the Capasirca mine, in part due to conflicts and debt claims that carried over from the previous owners, and in part because the new managers wanted to change the prevailing work system. In that system, the Mixed Trade Union of Mine Workers of Capasirca and its Secretary General, Mario Mancilla, in particular, played a leading role in organizing gold production and extraction. In that context, the situation in the mines can be seen as a conflict to obtain new forms of production, as against long-standing systems, that is aggravated by the high level of ideological discourse and poverty in the area.

27. On April 10, 1996, the Capasirca mine workers called an indefinite strike. The inspector from the Ministry of Labor at Llallagua, Primo Cáceres Zapata, declared the strike illegal on April 17 of that year. This led to a confrontation with the miners and a complaint by Mr. Cáceres who said that he had been assaulted by the miners. Before he declared the strike illegal, Inspector Cáceres presented to the then-Minister of Labor charges regarding abandonment and deterioration of machinery and poor working and safety conditions in the mines:

(a) Abandonment of machinery and poor condition of work tools, in violation of the industrial safety law.

(b) He noted the danger that the miners faced by working in unsafe conditions and mentioned that supports were splintered by the pressure of the rock.

(c) He stated that the electricity system was dangerous because it was poorly installed. He also mentioned that winches and cables had deteriorated.

(d) He placed special emphasis on the dangerous situation faced by the miners who were in charge of the "blocks" that were up to 45 meters deep and had rising waters. He mentioned the following miners: MARIO MANCILLA, FELIPE ANGUELA, ALFREDO MAMANI, ANDRES LORA, FIDEL SANCHEZ, ANASTASIO BUSTOS, WALTER ROMERO, WILSON ROMERO, ISMAEL RAMOS, GUILLERMO MANCILLA and LUCIANO MIMMA, who work in the "blocks" with pumps to remove the water. These pumps were only 6 or 7 horsepower and he stated that they should be removed and that pumps of at least 50 horsepower should be used.

(e) He stated that at least two modern drilling machines should be brought in each month because the ones they were using were obsolete (verbatim). The changeover of this equipment, the Regional Labor Inspector of Llallagua said, would cost approximately US$ 100,000.

28. On May 13, 1996, the Da Capo company and the union reached an agreement, by which the company was to pay up to 75% of the wages for the days on strike. The following agreement, later endorsed by the Ministry of Labor, was signed:

Clause one - The EMPRESA YAMIN LTDA. has been transferred in its entirety to the EMPRESA MINERA DA CAPO RESOURCES LTDA.

Clause two - The new owner agrees to:

1. Guarantee the social benefits and recognize time of service.

2. Retain the present work system, and improve the technology under new working conditions.

3. Guarantee job security for all workers, without exception.

4. Guarantee the payment of contributions to a number of institutions: CNS, Basic Pension Fund, Complementary Miner Fund, and others.

5. As from this date, to furnish a company store, work materials, and other inputs.

6. Respect the historical traditions and customs of the sector.

Clause three - For its part, the union agrees to assist the company in the development of a set of internal regulations and to restructure by forming a team that will help the company improve its operations.

29. On July 29, 1996, the mining union brought a petition of claims which called for wage increases of 50% and better labor conditions. The union also charged that the company had failed to live up to the May agreement. On August 12, 1996, company representatives and mining leaders met in La Paz to discuss the list of grievances. The meeting got off to a bad start because the miners indicated that they had been insulted by the manager of Da Capo, David O'Connor. On the same date, Mr. O'Connor requested the Minister of Labor to go to the Ministry of Interior to have it provide guarantees by having military troops and the national police force in the conflict area.

30. In the context of the foregoing situation, the representatives and employees of the company withdrew from the area and left the mine in the hands of the miners and the union. In early September, the Mining Federation (FSTMB) called for discussions between the parties and requested the Ministry of Labor to intervene.(1)

31. On September 18, 1996, the company engineer, Guillermo Cordero, was held hostage by the miners who wanted the manager, David O'Connor, to come to the area. The engineer was released following the good-will intervention of Father Roberto Durete. The company denounced the kidnapping of Mr. Cordero and filed criminal charges against the persons responsible for the loss of management and the resignations of company personnel.

32. On September 21, 1996, a meeting was held in Uncía between the company, the miners, and representatives of FSTMB and COB. The miners discussed their grievances and the company stated that because of the productive and financial situation of the company, they were going to close the mine, conduct a series of evaluations, and then decide what action to take. In October 1996 there was a second meeting in Uncía, but the parties reached no agreement. The mine was still under the control of the miners. The company charged that the miners were extracting gold but not turning it over to the company.

33. On November 14, 1996, a column of approximately 130 police officers moved toward Capasirca and Chuquiutia (a town close to the mine where the miners live). The police attempted to carry out their orders to detain Mario Mancilla, the Secretary General of the Capasirca mining union, and other local leaders who had been charged with the kidnapping of Guillermo Cordero. The police mobilization was ordered by the prefect of Oruro at the request of an inspector from the same jurisdiction. The police presence led to a reaction among the people, who surrounded the policemen, stripped them of their weapons and equipment, and drove them out of the community before they could complete their mission. When it became known that the police expedition had failed, elements of the Illimani Regiment located at Uncía began to move toward Capasirca. The stated purpose of the troop movement was to retrieve the police gear. Given the seriousness of the situation and fearing a second confrontation, the prefect of Potosí, Yerko Kukoc, went to Capasirca, succeeded in halting the troops and obtained the return of weapons and equipment which the miners and the local people had taken from the police.

34. On November 20, 1996, at the initiative of prefect Kukoc, and in an attempt to reopen the channels of negotiation, a meeting was held in Potosí, with the participation of the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Mining, representatives of the Da Capo company, the mining union of Capasirca, FSTMB, COB, and civic institutions in the area. During the meeting, the miners indicated to the company that if any progress was to be made toward understanding, the company would have to drop its demands of court orders and withdraw the police force that had taken up position in Cataví, to stave off growing unrest among the local population. A statement of intentions was signed during the meeting.

35. The participants decided to meet again. The next meeting was held on December 4, 1996, but it did not take place due to the failure of the representatives of the Da Capo company, which had yet to abandon the judicial proceedings against the mine worker leaders, to attend. The meeting was scheduled a second time for December 11, 1996, but this time it failed to materialize due to the refusal of the Comité Cívico of Llallagua to attend. Finally, the meeting was held in Potosí on December 17, 1996. During that meeting, the miners asked the company to comply with the May 13, 1996 agreement. The negotiations were broken off when the company was informed that the mine at Amayapampa had been illegally seized by the mine workers.


36. During the morning of Tuesday, December 17, 1996, residents and mine workers from the district of Amayapampa, Bustillos province in the department of Potosí, called an assembly after they heard that workers Basilio Fiesta and Ismael Sánchez had been detained and accused of theft by Da Capo company staff members. Another issue that was to be taken up in that assembly was the company's ruling that workers could no longer chew coca leaves during work hours (pijcheo)(2). The mine workers and peasants demanded that the engineers and technical staff would have to leave the mine, along with the 25 policemen guarding it. This decision took place even though there were agreements in place between the workers and management; until that time, there had been no major labor problems between the two parties.

37. When the mine was seized, a confusing situation of insults, mistreatment, and pushing and shoving ensued, in which the engineers, mine technical staff, and policemen decided to leave the camp and the installations. The area was immediately occupied by the mine workers. The version of events given by the peasants people and other eyewitnesses indicated that no damages occurred during the taking of the mine, with the exception of a few broken windows.

38. On the same date, the then-prefect of Potosí, Yerko Kukoc, called upon the Da Capo company to attend a joint meeting with the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Mining, the Mining Federation, the Workers' Confederation, the Mixed Union of Mine Workers of Capasirca, and civic institutions. The purpose of the meeting was to have the company drop its detention orders against the mine workers and solve the labor-management problems and other problems involving the company and the region, the national treasury (payment of royalties and taxes) and other matters. As has been mentioned, the news that the mine had been taken and the events that produced the withdrawal of the engineers, technical staff, and police led the company to withdraw from the negotiations that were taking place in Potosí. The company ended the negotiations on the grounds that there had been a breakdown of dialogue.

39. The occupation of the Amayapampa mines and the breakdown of negotiations led government authorities to decide to use public forces to restore order in the area, to remove the occupants and to restore the mine to its owners. All day on Wednesday, December 18, 1996, police forces were moved into the area. In the early morning of the next day (December 19, 1996), based on the orders of a superior, a contingent of approximately 150 policemen, under the command of Colonel Eduardo Rivas Rojas, Commander of the Special Security Group of La Paz and the Commander General of the National Police Force, General Willy Arriaza.

40. On Thursday, December 19, 1996, at approximately 10:00 a.m., another assembly of peasants and miners began in Amayapampa. This meeting included the participation of mine leaders Galo Luna, Guido Martínez, Angel Fernández, and representatives of the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights of Llallagua. These persons had reached the area the preceding day, Wednesday, December 18, 1996.

41. The meeting concluded at 1:00 p.m. and union leader Guido Martínez announced the resolutions of the meeting over Radio Panamericana from Amayapampa. This radio station was in communication with Radio Pío XII from the city of Siglo XX. The text of the resolution reads as follows:

1. To confirm the categorical rejection of the return of the foreign investors to the mining district of Amayapampa and the region since this would be a violation of national sovereignty and of the dignity of the workers, peasants, and local residents of the area or the region.

2. Steadfast defense of natural resources, the sources of employment, and the environment, up to the final consequences.

3. Categorical rejection of the government's new draft mining code, since it favors transnational companies and violates national sovereignty over the land, minerals, and territory.

4. To preserve the assets of the company (equipment, machinery, materials, tools, installations and others) which have been irresponsibly abandoned by the managers; the mine workers will take responsibility for them and keep them safe by using supervisory and management committees.

5. To reject the intimidation and constant threats to the mine workers, the peasants, and their families in the form of announcements of detentions and repression by the company owners.

6. To reject the agreement signed with the company in September 1996 since it was, they thought, a violation of the workers' rights and because the company had failed to comply with it.(3)

7. To ratify the peasant-mine worker pact and develop a joint and unified struggle on behalf of the northern region of Potosí.

Done in the discussions area of the joint assembly of the mining district of Amayapampa, on the 19th day [of December] of 1996.(4)


42. At the time the workers' assembly was coming to an end, dynamite explosions were heard. These were a warning about a police presence in the region. Similarly, the people's communications media informed the workers and the peasants that combined forces of the National Police and Armed Forces, using a variety of transportation modes, left Uncía and had taken a brief rest at a place known as Lagunillas. The communications media also reported that the army and the police had been in Llallagua since Wednesday, December 18, 1996. Workers, peasants, and women posted in the hills had observed some 20 to 40 vehicles with heavily armed military and police personnel. In effect, a police contingent with the support of military personnel from the Illimani Regiment at Uncía was moving into Amayapampa for the purpose of restoring order and returning the mine to its owners.

43. The miners and the peasants decided to go to where the highway between Amayapampa and Llallagua was blocked. After the workers and the people were in an area known as "Kéllu Kása" (Quebrada Amarilla), located in the hills of Amayapampa, they were able to see that the combined army and police forces were moving towards the district of Amayapampa--where the mine was located--by using tear gas, rubber bullets, and others. When the labor leaders saw the unequal conditions, and in an effort to avoid bloodshed, they attempted to speak with the police officers who were under the command of General Willy Arriaza, the Commander General of the National Police. Mine worker leaders Galo Luna, Angel Fernández and César Lugo, in the company of Silvia Rojas, a member of the Assembly for Human Rights of Llallagua, approached the officers waving a white flag.

44. According to witnesses to the events, one of the officers asked the leaders for their identification documents. The leaders identified themselves and asked for a cease-fire and an end to the hostilities. The officer told them that he would get into contact with General Arriaza, who appeared twenty minutes later. According to information provided, the workers requested of General Arriaza that he give them one hour to hold a meeting that would make possible the peaceful entry of the police and military forces, the removal of the residents, and the recovery of the mine. However, General Arriaza at first gave them only fifteen minutes and told them, among other things, "We have higher orders to take the Amayapampa mine, ensuring respect for private property, no matter who is in the way, and we will not let anybody stand in our way, and if we have to run over them and run over you, we will do it."(5) In the end, the officer agreed to give the people a thirty-minute truce, saying to them, "Time is moving on, gentlemen."

45. The miners and the peasants held a brief meeting on the hill and organized into committees. During this time, more and more peasants were arriving. According to information provided by the mine workers and peasants, the first commission was to tell the women to take their children and flee Amayapampa for their safety. The second committee had the task of getting in touch with Radio Pío XII to tell them about the events and to inform them that some people had been wounded. When they spoke with General Arriaza again, Silvia Rojas and Galo Luna reported on the decisions of their meeting, that is, that the troops could enter Amayapampa along the road--and the women and peasants would stay in the cars--provided that the following conditions were met: A) That the executives of Da Capo would come to the place of the events, along with the prefect, the assistant prefect, or some other national authority who might be in Uncía, in order to discuss or negotiate the conflict; B) they were to safeguard and respect the housing of the workers, just as they did with the property of the owners; C) they should not detain any labor leaders; and D) they should move along the road without provoking the peasants.

46. As the thirty minutes concluded, General Willy Arriaza gave the order to advance toward the mining camp of Amayapampa. At approximately 2:00 p.m. on December 19, 1996, the first confrontation occurred in the area around the Kéllu Kása hill between the combined police-military forces and the peasants and miners. According to witnesses to the events, the army and police forces used tear gas, rubber bullets, weapons shooting blanks, and firearms, while the peasants and the miners defended themselves with stones and dynamite fragments. At approximately 7:00 p.m., the police and the army troops controlled the Amayapampa mine and set up a police cordon around the camp; the army set up another which went outward from the camp and around the civilian population, who put up no resistance. According to information collected by the IACHR, the police and military personnel reported the existence of communication problems since, in their account, the station wagon that was transporting the police radio equipment--40 Motorola units--was blocked and the equipment had been removed by mine workers. In addition, part of the equipment had been returned by miners on December 22, 1996.

47. During the course of the actions taken on December 19, 1996, the following persons died at the hands of the military and police forces: 1) Galo Luna Salinas, 35 years of age, who held the position of Secretary of Education and Culture of the Mining Federation, and Director of Political-Trade Union Education at the Universidad Siglo XX--Galo Luna died from two bullet wounds; 2) Miguel Angel Choque, a student, 15 years of age, died from a bullet wound; and 3) Santos Ossio Padilla, a miner, 18 years of age, died as a result of multiple trauma and head trauma.

48. In addition, after the actions of December 19, several other seriously wounded persons and others with minor wounds were found. They received care at the clinics in Uncía, Llallagua, Cataví and Oruro.(6)


49. At approximately 10:00 a.m. on December 20, 1996, and starting with the consolidation of the incursion operations and the retaking of the Amayapampa mine the previous day, a second police-military mission was initiated from the Amayapampa mine to the area of Uncía. Its purpose was to remove the wounded, to transfer the civilians' corpses, to pick up provisions, and to receive operational support. The mission was composed of 17 motorized units which carried two police units--the Special Security Group of La Paz and Potosí--with the support of an army company known as the Illimani Battalion (according to the Government, there were, in all, some 180 men).

50. After about 5 kilometers, and at approximately 11:00 a.m., there was an ambush by the miners and the peasants of the area around Kéllu Kása. During these events, the first person wounded was Dr. Rodrigo Flores, a physician at the Chayanta Hospital (Potosí). Dr. Flores was travelling in the ambulance that headed the caravan. To protect himself, he got out of the ambulance and was hit in the right arm and the right hand. Seeing this, all the police and military forces took protective cover in the vanguard, the right flank and the rear guard. The military vehicles were hit several times in the windshields, and Colonel Eduardo Rivas Rojas, the commander of the GES of La Paz, was hit in the right cheek by a bullet which exited through the occipital region. He died instantly.

51. At the same time, a police officer, Second Lieutenant Iván Mendívil, who was lying down, was hit by a bullet in the left temple, grazing his head, and wounding him in the earflap. According to the police version, during the course of these events, besides the mortal wound to Colonel Rivas, four police officers were seriously wounded. These officers were evacuated to the city of La Paz. There were also 23 persons with minor wounds and less serious contusions.

52. At approximately 5:00 p.m., after police and army reinforcements arrived, the troops used their firearms to control the situation and continued on to Lagunillas and later on to Uncía.


53. During the morning of Friday, December 20, 1996, the Regional Workers Central of Llallagua held a meeting in which they decided to continue defending the region. At that time, the leaders of the COB came together in the same place. The news that reached them indicated a very serious situation. In addition, wounded persons kept coming from the area around Amayapampa. Groups of workers from the Siglo XX, 20 de Octubre and Multiactiva cooperatives marched toward the conflict area to support the miners of Amayapampa, who attempted by all means to harass the military and police forces into leaving the area.

54. In the meantime, in Llallagua, Edgar Ramírez, the Executive Secretary of the Worker Central (COB); Milton Gómez, the Executive Secretary of the Miners Federation (FSTMB); and Alberto Echazú, the Assistant Rector of the Universidad Nacional Siglo XX filed a writ of habeas corpus with the Llallagua Court for the purpose of securing the following:

1. Immediate delivery of the corpses of Galo Luna, 35 years of age (member of the FSTMB), Santos Ossio Padilla (35 years of age), Miguel Choque (15 years), and Rigorio Cortez. These men had been killed by machine-gun fire by the repressive forces and their bodies are being hidden by the police. It is suspected that they were taken from the place in a military aircraft that had landed in the area this morning.

2. In addition, the delivery and release of those who had been wounded and left in the place, and who were taken prisoner in Amayapampa.

3. In addition, the release of all detained persons.

4. An end to the police-military repression of the workers and labor leaders, and against the people of Llallagua, Siglo XX, Uncía, Amayapampa, Capasirca, and all the peasant communities in this area.(7)

55. This writ was reported officially to the prosecutor. However, when the habeas corpus hearing was held the next day, both the judge and the prosecuting attorney decided to suspend the hearing because there had been no notification to General Arriaza, even though the prosecuting attorney and the task officer of the court had been present in the place of the events to give notice, which was rejected by General Arriaza from the barracks. The habeas corpus hearing was never held.

56. At approximately 3:00 p.m. on December 20, 1996, a legislative committee reached Uncía. Its members were Deputies Juan del Granado, the Chairman of the Human Rights Committee, and Jorge Albarracín, the Secretary of the Mining Committee. These two members of Congress, along with Deputy Lucio Felípez, originally from the area, began their work of investigation, conciliation, and peace-making.


57. At approximately 7:00 p.m. on December 20, on the outskirts of Llallagua--in a high clearing where the entry gate to the city was located--a heavy military presence was observed. The Braun Regiment from Oruro attempted to take the town by three columns, the main one of which sought to advance along the road where the gate was located. The second column spread out over the cleared areas covering the left flank, and the third column took the right flank toward the cemetery. Initially, the military troops--who had orders to enter until reaching the Uncía barracks--moved quickly, but when night fell, the people of Llallagua were alerted by a siren to proceed "to defend their city." The confrontation lasted until the early morning of Saturday, December 21, 1996, but in the end the military troops retreated and left. According to eyewitnesses, the civilian population defended themselves with stones and small fragments of dynamite while the military troops used firearms, resulting in the death of Wilmer Gonzales Cazano, 15 years of age, a student at the San Agustín high school in Cochabamba who, was on vacation in Llallagua. Another person who died during the action was Jose Luis Espinoza Mercado, 42 years of age, a mechanic; he was hit by two bullets.(8)

58. Also in the afternoon of December 20, 1996, General Daniel Saavedra, the Chief of Staff of the army, went to Uncía from La Paz. General Saavedra was in charge of operations as of that date. General Saavedra agreed at that time with the legislative commission--whose members were in the area of the events to try to pacify the situation--that it was urgently necessary to order the immediate withdrawal of the military troops from around Llallagua to prevent any new confrontations, especially considering that December 21 was the anniversary of the 1942 massacre at Cataví. Approximately one hour later, General Saavedra spoke with several ministers of state and the Commanding General of the Army to secure their approval, he attempted to order the withdrawal of the Braun regiment but was unable to do so because he did not have radio equipment or other communications equipment to contact that unit.

59. Consequently, General Saavedra decided to draft the order on a regular piece of paper and have the legislative commission take it to Llallagua for execution and enforcement. That order read as follows:

Lieutenant Colonel Erick Ferrufino:

On the order of the Commanding General of the Army and in consultation with the Minister of Defense, and having coordinated with the Human Rights Committee, the bearers of this order, you are to move your security zone outside the town of Llallagua and stay out of that area until you receive new orders. Greetings.

Uncía, December 20, 1996

Brigadier General Daniel Saavedra

60. On Saturday, December 21, 1996, at approximately 1:00 a.m., the legislative commission determined that Llallagua was virtually deserted and that there were only approximately 150 residents--all youths--who were excitedly guarding the entry to the city. Apparently, the Braun regiment had already withdrawn from the city. In these circumstances, the deputies went to the morgue at the Coposa Hospital in Llallagua where they found the corpses of Wilmer Gonzales and José Espinoza.


61. At 4:00 p.m. on Friday, December 20, 1996, members of the Multiactiva, Siglo XX, and 20 de Octubre cooperatives left Llallagua to go to the conflict area of Amayapampa. Their purpose was to carry out the resolutions of the assembly in which it was decided that the cooperative members would support the mine workers of Amayapampa. The members of those cooperatives went in three trucks, which reached the area at approximately 6:00 p.m.; there they were welcomed by peasants and the mine workers' wives, who had left their houses--out of fear--in the mining camp, and had spent the night in the surrounding hills with their small children. In this place, the cooperative members met with the prosecuting attorney of Llallagua, Guillermo Aguilar, who told them that the police and the army were heavily armed and willing to use all necessary force to re-establish order in the area.(9)

62. The next day--December 21, 1996--the miners, peasants, and cooperative members held a meeting to discuss the situation of the workers and their families and to see the best way for the cooperative members to give any help they might need. However, once it was determined that military personnel in the area numbered more than approximately 1,000 (counting both police and army soldiers), and seeing that they were at a severe disadvantage, they decided to be cautious and not to take any action. They decided to stay in the place at the request of the peasants and the miners' wives, who begged the cooperative members to not abandon them.

63. At approximately 10:30 a.m., in the hills by Amayapampa, there was an incident between workers from the cooperatives and police and military forces. During the course of these events, Ercila López Condori, 49 years of age, a nursing assistant, was severely wounded in the right leg at the hands of police and military forces. López Condori died after acute hemorrhage. Mrs. López Condori worked for the Cataví mining company and had gone to Amayapampa to assist the wounded. When she herself was wounded, the military people seized her personal belongings, including a backpack, a sweater, shoes, a briefcase with first aid equipment (stethoscope, tensiometer, scissors, clamps, thermometer). None of these items was ever returned to her family. The Commission received several complaints alleging that this was due to the failure to provide her with timely medical care; consequently, the IACHR believes it essential to carry out the appropriate investigations in this case.

64. During these events, several civilian workers for the Multiactiva cooperative were also wounded by gunfire. These were Silvio Torrez Corrales, 65 years of age (bullet wound in the right foot, with no bone damage); Víctor Vargas Sarmiento, 41 years of age (bullet wound, gluteal region); Rosendo Osorio Gutiérrez, 65 years of age (complex fracture of the left fibula caused by a high-velocity projectile with both entry and exit orifices); and Luis Soto Ballesteros, 21 years of age (wounded by a projectile in the articular region).

65. Other workers from the Multiactiva cooperative were detained at the place of the events. These were Pelagio Torrico (taken from him were 45 bolivianos, a pair of pants, a backpack, a blanket, and a pair of shoes); Oscar Caballero, 38 years of age (taken from him were a pair of shoes, a jacket and 320 bolivianos); and Alejandro Roque García, 53 years of age. These persons were taken to the Uncía military barracks and later released on December 22, 1996.


66. On Saturday December 21, 1996, at approximately 8:30 a.m., the following persons were arrested: René Coca Herrera (33), Porfirio Mamani Qino (54), Mario Barahona Rasquido (54), Raúl Mamani Cerrato (38), Antonio López Asteti (35), Juan Carlos Colque Jamachi (13), Williams Barahona Agudo (21), Cristóbal López Chocotea (23), and Ramiro Mamani Veyzaga (15). According to the police version, these citizens were arrested in the vicinity of Amayapampa when an ammunition case containing 50 rifle cartridges, a black bag of dynamite, detonator caps, and leads was found in the trunk of the vehicle, with license plate SBE-638, in which they were travelling.

67. At approximately 4:00 p.m. on December 21, agents of the Special Security Group (GES) of La Paz stopped a Land Rover bearing license plate OEC-066 belonging to the NGO EVSS-KALPA in which, according to the police version, were found a large quantity of dynamite, bladed weapons, detonator caps, and leads. As a result, the following individuals were detained: Sebastián Toco Gutiérrez (53); José Copana Jorge (25); Juan Indalecio Mamani (26); Roberto Calizasaya Calani (23); Leandro Navarro Cucho (25); José Cruz Roque (48); Miguel Angel Mejía Fernández (19); Froilan Calizaya Ticona (37); Valerio Trigoyo Bernal (33); Adalid Camacho Caballero (40) a former deputy prefect of Uncía; Marcelino González Acero (40); Apolinar Villalpando Ojeda (34); and Julio Marcani Pascual (44).

68. At 6:30 p.m. on that same day, agents of the GES stopped a station wagon with license plates SJA-412. The nine occupants were on their way from Chayanta to the mining camp of Amayapampa. According to the police report, explosives, leads, detonator caps, and provisions were found in the vehicle. The individuals detained were Francisco Alvarez Sandi (43), Simón Coria Marca (35), Epifanio Bautista Rojas (52), Walter Tirapi Fernández (47), Placido Tola Mamani (30), Gualberto Delgadillo Atanacio (41), Eulogio Herrera Leyva (26), Julián Choque Miranda (30), and Efraín Ramos Callapa (28).

69. All of the persons named were held in a place called the "sauna" located in the Uncía barracks belonging to the Andean Engineering Battalion XXI Illimani (BIA-XXI). However, Juan Carlos Colque and Julián Choque Miranda, 13 and 15 years of age, respectively, were released immediately, together with an unidentified elderly man of over 70.


70. On the morning of December 21, 1996, in the community of Llallagua, the members of the Human Rights Committee of the Chamber of Deputies (Comisión de Derechos Humanos de la Cámara de Diputados), leaders of the Bolivian Workers' Congress (Central Obrera Boliviana) (COB), Bolivian Federation of Mine Workers (Federación Sindical de Trabajadores Mineros de Bolivia) (FSTMB), the Llallagua Citizens' Committee (Comité Cívico de Llallagua), the Capasirca Miners' Union (Sindicato Minero de Capasirca), the Potosina Brigade (Brigada Potosina), the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights (Asamblea Permanente de Derechos Humanos), and several reporters agreed to travel to Capasirca to investigate the situation.

71. On the journey, at a place called Cerro Colorado, according to a report by the Chamber of Deputies, the reporters were prevented by the military authorities from entering the area of conflict on "orders from above," although the reporters presented a document signed by the then-Minister of Communications, Mauricio Balcázar, offering assurances that members of the media could enter the area. The offices permitted only the parliamentary commission, the union leaders (COB and FSTMB), and the members of the Assembly for Human Rights to enter the area.

72. However, José Luis Quintana, a photographer with the publication "Hoy", and José Luis Chávez, cameraman with Channel PAT, managed to sneak into the area in the station wagon in which the parliamentary commission was riding.

73. On the way to Capasirca, in the region of Lagunillas, a group of peasants stopped the parliamentary commission to show them the corpse of Marcial Calla Fiesta, 25, a peasant from the ayllu of Laime, who had been shot in the back by a patrol on Thursday December 19, 1996, in the hills of Amayapampa while the victim, frightened, was trying to get away. A large calibre bullet had passed through the shoulder blade and exited the chest beside the heart. The victim's wife, Gregoria Ayabari, related to the members of the commission the circumstances surrounding the death of Calla Fiesta. The Human Rights Committee arranged to have the body picked up on the afternoon of Saturday, December 21.

74. Peasants and mine workers from Capasirca were waiting for the members of the Human Rights Committee, having learned of the visit from Radio Pío XII. The leaders of the mine workers, the parliamentarians, and a group of women held a meeting to recount the events and discuss the causes of the dispute between the workers and management. The deputies explained that the only solution to the conflict was to resume the talks that had been suspended in the city of Potosí, and to immediately discontinue the occupation of the mine.

75. Finally, the mine workers submitted the following proposal by labor:

1. To stop the occupation of the Capasirca mine immediately;

2. resume the dialogue;

3. no armed action against the mining camp; and

4. guarantees that the mine leaders would not be prosecuted or tried.

76. While the mission was carrying out its tasks, the Minister of Defense, Alfonso Kreidler, and the then-Minister of the Interior, Franklin Anaya, arrived in Uncía in a small plane. These senior Bolivian officials had come from La Paz to discuss possible solutions to the crisis. They were greeted at the entrance to the Uncía barracks by Senator Gonzalo Valda and Deputies Edgar Lazo and Sergio Medinacelli.


77. Around 2:30 p.m. on December 21, 1996, Deputy Juan del Granado returned to the Uncía compound from Capasirca accompanied by his delegation with the mine workers' proposal. According to the report by the Human Rights Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, that proposal was conveyed to the Ministers of Defense and Interior, who indicated that the situation was "not negotiable", since it was first necessary to uphold the law and to restore order in respect to the pseudo-terrorist activities perpetrated against the police and the military, who were virtually unarmed.

78. After an hour and a half of negotiations it was agreed to examine the overall situation.

79. While the Ministers evaluated the mine workers' proposal and the military was being informed by the parliamentarians that another peasant had been killed at Antara-Lagunillas, General Daniel Saavedra reported that on the morning of December 21 the corpses of three civilians had been brought from Amayapampa; they were reported to have been killed on Thursday, December 19. The corpses were deposited in a garage at the back of the Uncía barracks, in the body of a Jeep pick-up, and covered with a tarp. The bodies were those of Galo Luna, a mine worker leader; Santos Ossio Padilla; and Miguel Choque, a minor.

80. The corpses had not been sent to Oruro, as General Arriaza had reported to the parliamentarians when they were in Amayapampa on December 20, but had been kept hidden by the police. Subsequently, General Saavedra agreed to have the bodies taken to the Coposa Hospital at Llallagua so that autopsies could be performed (these were never performed, as will be analyzed later in this report) and the bodies returned to the families.


81. At 6:00 p.m. on December 21, 1996, in light of the initial attitude of the ministers, the deputies, Jorge del Granado, Lucio Felípez, and Jorge Albarracín contacted the President of Bolivia, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada. The parliamentarians described the situation in detail, clearing up the notion that there were irregular armed groups from outside the town, and posing the urgency of arriving at a peaceful solution based on what was proposed at Capasirca.

82. The President listened carefully to what the parliamentarians said and agreed with the idea of promoting negotiation over the use of force. He also indicated that he would issue instructions to his ministers, with a request that close attention be given to the counter-proposal that the government would be making.

83. At 8:00 p.m. on December 21, the deputies on the Human Rights Committee met for a second time with the Ministers of Interior and Defense, who presented the following counter-proposal:

1. The occupation of the Capasirca mine must be discontinued immediately;

2. Return of portable communications equipment taken from the police in Amayapampa;

3. Return of the arms that had been seized from two soldiers and a policeman in Llallagua on the evening of Thursday [December 19, 1996], when they were held as hostages for some hours;

4. Hand over illegal arms that had been found in the possession of civilians and that had been used in the clashes;

5. Investigation by the Public Ministry of what had occurred; and

6. peaceful police presence and oversight in the mines of Amayapampa and Capasirca.


84. After receiving the counter-proposal, the deputies from the Human Rights Committee, together with the union leaders, representatives of the Comité Cívico, and the Assembly for Human Rights, and parliamentarians Valda, Medinicelli, and Lazo made a second visit to Capasirca.

85. When the delegation arrived in Capasirca in the early morning of December 22, 1996, there were no peasants or mine workers around. Accordingly, the delegation left for Chuquiuta, a small town a few kilometers away, where they found the residents holding a meeting. The parliamentary commission held talks with the peasants and mine workers and conveyed to them the government's counter-proposal. After two hours of deliberations, the peasants agreed to modify their proposal as follows:

1. The mine had already been evacuated and this should give the government a clear indication of their good will and desire for a peaceful solution.

2. The return of the hostages' radios and arms was not an issue that concerned Capasirca, but Amayapampa and Llallagua.

3. There was agreement on surrendering arms in the possession of workers, but the terms and particularly the mechanisms needed to be worked out. It was suggested that surrender of arms could be based on an impartial investigation in which the church should be involved.

4. That an investigation be done of "the events that had taken place" by the Public Ministry was unanimously rejected in view of the fact that said office was "biased and could not be trusted". It was urged that a special parliamentary commission be set up and that insofar as was possible it be bicameral, special, with members from all parties.

5. It was not considered necessary or appropriate to maintain a police presence in the mine since its complete evacuation was, according to the workers, a sufficient guarantee for the resumption of talks between workers and management and the gradual resumption of production.

6. To the contrary, there should be an immediate withdrawal of all troops and the police contingents and guarantees should be granted to all workers who had taken part in the conflict.(10)

86. The mine workers and peasants then decided to start holding direct talks with the government authorities immediately, and asked the members of the Human Rights Committee of the Chamber of Deputies to remain present at the meetings as observers. The meeting ended at 3:30 a.m. on December 22, and the delegation returned to the Uncía barracks.


87. At 5:00 a.m. on December 22, 1996, a third meeting was held between the parliamentarians and the Minister of Defense and the Minister of the Interior. Also in attendance was the then Prefect of Potosí, Yerco Kukoc. The union delegation and the members of the Assembly for Human Rights did not enter the Uncía barracks, but remained in the vicinity of the city.

88. After deliberating on the mine workers' proposal for approximately an hour, the ministers felt that the police presence in the mining districts was necessary and that an investigation by the Public Ministry was imperative. Deliberations also focused on the most effective mechanisms for collecting the arms in the possession of the mine workers and peasants.

89. While the parliamentarians and ministers were reaching agreement on common ground, General Daniel Saavedra, Chief of Staff of the Army, appeared unexpectedly, and "looking visibly nervous, said: `Gentlemen, the time is up, I am going to begin the operation.'"(11)

90. According to the Human Rights Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, "it was evident that while we were talking, a parallel decision was being made for the military to occupy Capasirca, in an operation that was both clumsy and pointless since the workers had already left the mine, as the ministers had been informed at the outset of the meeting."(12) Deputy Lucio Felípez informed Deputy del Granado of an intense troop movement within the military barracks.

91. A heated exchange ensued between the ministers and the parliamentary commission. According to the report, a few minutes later the ministers revoked the military order and about 10 vehicles, filled with troops, armed with light and mountain artillery, mortars, and rocket-launchers, ready to take the mine at Capasirca, had to turn off their engines.

92. At approximately 6:00 a.m. it was agreed to start talking directly with the union leaders, the representatives of the Assembly for Human Rights, and the Minister of Defense and the Minister of the Interior, with the parliamentarians remaining as observers. Taking part in the initial talks were Edgar Ramírez Santiesteban of the COB, Milton Gómez and Guillermo Dalence of the FSTMB, and Father Roberto Durete, a member of the Assembly for Human Rights and Director of Radio Pío XII. The negotiations continued until approximately 9:00 a.m. without any agreement being reached because of two conflictive points: the police presence demanded by the government, and the surrender of arms.

93. In view of the deadlock, it was agreed to adjourn the meeting until 11:00 a.m. in order to invite the leaders of the mining camps of Amayapampa and Capasirca to attend. Deputies Checo and Lazo, Prefect Kukoc, Father Durete, and the union leaders went to the mines to invite the leaders.

94. Meanwhile, the parliamentarians visited the individuals who were being detained, who included two minors and one elderly man, and they were released immediately. The parliamentary delegation also managed to get the police authorities to take the detainees out of solitary confinement and to allow visits by family members and be brought food and blankets. They were visited by their families in the early afternoon. In the meantime, the authorities assembled and displayed--for the benefit of a government photographer and cameraman--some old rifles and revolvers, ammunition, dynamite sticks with leads, and canned sardines.(13)

95. According to the parliamentarians, "it was evident that a feverish investigative zeal had taken hold of some police officials who appeared determined to produce evidence of the terrorist infiltration that was alleged. These events were roundly condemned together with attacks against Radio Pío XII and the press, by Father Durete at the end of the meeting..."(14)

96. The meeting resumed at 1:30 p.m. but with the leaders from Capasirca only, since the mine workers and peasants from Amayapampa were still in the hills. The Capasirca leaders Mario Mancilla and Genaro Barahona, Alejandro Centellas, leader of the Comité Cívico of Llallagua, leader Sacha Llorenti of the Assembly for Human Rights, and the other union leaders, Milton Gómez (FSTMB) and Edgar Ramírez (COB), resumed talks until 7:00 p.m., when they proceeded to draft the agreement, which was signed one hour later in the presence of the media.

97. Although the conflictive points of the agreement concerned the withdrawal of troops and police, the release of those being detained, and the prosecutor's investigation, the leaders of the mine workers agreed to a reduced and peaceful police presence in exchange for the partial and gradual withdrawal of the remaining troops. After securing the release of the detainees, the leaders agreed to allow the investigation by the Public Ministry to continue notwithstanding the parliamentary investigation that had been decided on. It is important to note that there was no reference to the withdrawal of troops and police in the peace agreement or to the release of the detainees. Nevertheless, both were done immediately. The peace agreement signed at 8:00 p.m. on December 22, 1996, read as follows:

In the community of Uncía, the Minister of Interior, FRANKLIN ANAYA; the Minister of National Defense, Mr. Alfonso Kreidler; and the Prefect of the department of Potosí, Mr. YERCO KUROC; the Executive Secretary of the COB, Mr. EDGAR RAMIREZ; the head of the LLALLAGUA Citizen's Committee, Mr. ALEJANDRO CENTELLAS; representatives of the workers and residents of CAPASIRCA, Mr. MARIO MANCILLA VEIZAGA; and the Executive Secretary of the FSMTB, Mr. MILTON GOMEZ, met to seek peaceful solutions to the conflict in the mining areas of CAPASIRCA, AMAYAPAMPA, and the surroundings. Attending the meeting as observers were members of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies and of the Human Rights Committee. It was agreed as follows:

First: The Mixed Union of Mine Workers of CAPASIRCA shall on this day hand over the CAPASIRCA mine as well as any arms in the area and equipment taken from the police, and to cease all hostilities, and shall pursue dialogue and cooperate with a peaceful handing over of the CAPASIRCA mine.

Second: The Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Defense hereby agree to permit the Minister of Labor and the National Secretariat of Mining to take part in the negotiations held between the CAPASIRCA Mine Union and the mine owners; the Prefect of the department of Potosí is assigned the task of making the necessary arrangements.

Three: The right of the departments to receive taxes and royalties for the exploitation of their natural resources in accordance with the legislation in effect is ratified.

Four: As required by law, order at the CAPASIRCA mine will be enforced by the National Police. The residents of the area undertake to facilitate this task and the Minister of the Interior guarantees that this control will be enforced in observance of the rights of the citizens in the area.

Five: The Comité Cívico of LLALLAGUA undertakes to arrange for the immediate return of arms seized at the city hall of LLALLAGUA from members of the army on Thursday, December 19, 1996.

Six: Every effort will be made in the appropriate judicial and parliamentary forums to shed light on the events that occurred, in full observance of all constitutional rights.


98. The following individuals were killed in the events at Amayapampa, Llallagua, and Capasirca: Santos Ossio Padilla (18), Miguel Choque (15), Marcelino Calle (), Marcial Calla Fiesta (25), Galo Luna Salinas (37), José Espinoza (43), Wilmer Gonzales (15), GES Colonel Eduardo Rivas (49), Ercila López Condori (49), and Gregorio Carlo Estalla (28).

99. The following individuals were wounded: Hilarión Martínez Quispe (30), René Quispe Claros (32), Sandro Negretty (19), Andrés Choque Bernabé (37), Vicente Choque Ossio (25), Eusebio Silvestre (39), Ciprián Ossio (26), Florencio Suturi (35), Eleuterio Copa (38), Hilarión Copa (45), Juan Fiesta (37), José Chichinca (27), Silverio Copa (38), Corsino Fernández (25), Aurelio Copa (48), Felix Colque Tiparani (25), Santiago Mamani (35), Roberto Colque (35), Police Officer Iván Mendívil Aban (22), Police Officer Víctor Molina (25), Police Officer Guillermo Pilui (19), Cancio Chuwi, Basilia Fiesta, Gerardo Quispe (29), Jaime Fiesta, José Fiesta, José Siaca, Agustín Balcázar, Jaime Orihuela Mancilla, Luis Soto (31), Silvio Torrez (67), Víctor Vargas (39), Oscar Mamani, Ronald Hidalgo, and Carlos Camacho (44).


100. Once peace was restored after the events in northern Potosí, the Ministry of Interior, through then-Minister Franklin Anaya, gave an account according to which terrorist elements, with sufficient knowledge and military training, participated actively in the confrontations at Amayapampa, Capasirca, and Llallagua. This information appeared in the Bolivian press on December 24, 1996. In effect, in the press file sent by the Government of Bolivia to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on April 11, 1997, several press publications of that date appear which reproduce the versions of the then-Minister of Interior. The following are some examples:

The armed attacks against police in Amayapampa and Capasirca (Potosí) last week, resulting in one colonel killed and several persons wounded, was carried out by persons trained and possibly linked to terrorist or subversive organizations, Minister of Interior Franklin Anaya said yesterday.

I believe that there are elements of terrorist action, actions such as guerrilla provocation, but I cannot think that we are facing a highly de-stabilizing guerrilla war, the minister said.

He argued that the police who entered the conflict zone initially with anti-riot gear were at a disadvantage because the peasants and mine workers attacked the forces of order with sniper fire and the police only responded with tear gas canisters. As a result, the Commander of the Special Security Group (GES), Col. Rivas, was killed, and other police and military personnel, and even civilian personnel, were wounded.(15)

101. Furthermore, the Human Rights Committee of the Chamber of Deputies indicated, inter alia, that:

It was evident that a febrile investigative zeal had taken hold of some police, who appeared firmly committed to coming up with evidence of the alleged terrorist infiltration.(16)

102. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will analyze this issue and other relevant ones in the chapter on its consideration on the factual and legal bases of this case.




1. See Resolution No. 1 of August 17, 1996, on Self-Management in Production of the Yamin Ltda. Mining Company.

2. Pijcheo is a Quechua word which means keeping coca leaves between the lip and the gum. The juice from the leaves and saliva make an effective combination to prevent fatigue, hunger and other stresses during the work day.

3. The Da Capo company signed an agreement with the mine workers in September 1996. In this agreement the company agreed to the following: (a) a 60% wage increase; (b) construction of a health post; (c) construction of clean bathrooms; and (d) widening of roads. The only commitment that the company complied with was widening the roads.

4. Federación Sindical de Trabajadores Mineros de Bolivia (FSTMB), La Paz, January 1997.

5. Testimony obtained by the IACHR on April 8, 1997.

6. The Government of Bolivia reported as follows:

a. Mine workers and residents of Llallagua took hostage the engineer in charge of the ENDE power plant, Non-commissioned officer Cayoja, Sargent Humérez, and one soldier, who were assaulted and dispossessed of their regulation firearms. These persons remained "detained" from 8:55 p.m. on December 19 until approximately 3:00 a.m. on December 20.

The return of the equipment and regulation firearms appears in the final act, signed December 22, 1996.

7. Verbatim report from the writ of habeas corpus, dated December 21, 1996.

8. According to Lieutenant Colonel Erick Ferrufino Meneses, Commander of the Military Police School Battalion 271, Lieutenant Corporal Joel A. Plaza Camacho was wounded in the hand by a low-caliber projectile or dynamite fragment.

9. The Government of Bolivia reported as follows:

On the night of the 20th a section of the Army (27 men) who were patrolling the area of Lagunillas was attacked by the shots of firearms and dynamite explosions. Given the intensity of the attack, the Commander of the section decided to retreat immediately. Due to lack of familiarity with the area, they returned to the Uncía barracks at dawn on the 21st, with three soldiers having suffered bullet wounds. They were Jorge Callapa Freddy, Ramos Colque Hidalgo, and Oscar Mamani Choquetilla. The first, with a bullet wound in the left thigh and a wound by a bladed weapon in the right leg, and the third in the internal and anterior parts of the right ankle. All were transferred in Army aircraft EB-003 on December 21, to La Paz, in view of the gravity of the wounds, particularly in the case of the third soldier.

10. Report of the Human Rights Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, December 1996, page 10.

11. Report of the Human Rights Committee, page 10.

12. Report of the Human Rights Committee, page 10.

13. The Government provided the IACHR a photograph with the following title: "Weapons, dynamite, and new 7.65 Mauser caliber ammunition seized in the area."

14. Report of the Human Rights Committee, page 11.

15. Diario de La Paz of December 24, 1996, with the following headline: "Government: Terrorists Instigated Violence at Amayapampa and Capasirca."

16. Report of the Human Rights Committee of the Chamber of Deputies of January 10, 1997, page 11.


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