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).




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.



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.


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