RESOLUTION Nº 30/82
1. In a communication dated August 22, 1980, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received the following denunciation concerning the events which took place in the community of Caracoles, Bolivia, on August 4, 1980.
Max Toledo regiment of Viacha, a part of the Tarapaca and the Camacho de
Oruro regiments, attacked Caracoles with guns, mortars, tanks and light
warplanes. The miners defended themselves with stones, sticks and some
dynamite charges. By Monday afternoon, most of the miners were killed.
Some of the survivors fled to the hills and others fled to the houses in
Villa Carmen. The soldiers pursued them and finished the men off in
their homes. They took others and tortured them and bayonetted many of
them. They also cut the throats of the wounded.
put dynamite in the mouth of a miner in the middle of the town square
and blew him to pieces.
looted the homes and loaded the trucks with television sets, sewing
machines, stereo systems, thermoses, beds, money and merchandise from
the stores, they also looted the Manaco and Zamora agency, the general
beat the children with cables and made them eat gunpowder they made the
young men lie down on broken glass and made the mothers walk over them,
later the soldiers walked on top of them.
soldiers acted like savage beasts because they were drugged; and they
did not hesitate to rape the women and also the young girls and even
killed sheep, hens, pigs, etc.., and took them to the trucks.
daybreak on August 5, they took the dead and wounded in three trucks
headed for La Paz. They continued until Friday to bring the prisoners
bound with wire.
did not allow the women to gather the dead to give them a Christian
burial, telling them "there are no orders." Only on Friday did
they give the order to pick up the dead, but only coats, pants, jackets,
jugs, shoes, etc., covered with blood were found. The dead had
disappeared. Some had been thrown into a pit behind the cemetery and
identification was not permitted. There are more or less 900 missing. It
is not known whether they are dead or alive.
list below the names of some of the missing, wounded, dead and
women bled to death as a result of the rapes.
Andrés Villca (12 años) went mad
(seen at Staff Headquarters)
(placed on board an airplane bound Puerto Rico, for Pando)
Vargas (student in his fourth year of secondary school
2. In a note dated
August 29, 1980, the Commission transmitted the pertinent parts of the
denunciation to the Government of Bolivia, asking it to provide any
information it considered pertinent, as well as any terms of reference
that would make it possible to decide whether remedies under domestic
law had been exhausted in the case in reference.
3. According to an
affidavit received by the Commission, the events occurred as follows:
was Sunday, August 4, when 13 trucks and two small tanks of the Camacho,
Huachacala, and Bolivar regiments entered the community of Caracoles. We
had been on strike since the 17th, following the instructions of CONADE.
We were told that it was necessary to hold out until August 6, and we
prepared ourselves for that. Some small arms, dynamite and automobile
batteries were gathered together and the access roads were mined. We had
met on Friday and were awaiting instructions, but there was no
coordination. At that meeting it was decided not to remain on the
defensive any longer and to take the offensive.
COB leader and three leaders from the Federación Sindical de
Trabajadores Mineros de Bolivia (FSTMB) were with us, but there were no
communications with the outside, although it was possible to achieve a
connection with Yungas and other rural areas. The campesinos gathered in
Caracoles. They numbered from 1,200 to 1,500. Each one remained three
days and went to bring food. On the final days we had nothing to eat and
the general stores were practically exhausted, but we had food because
our fellow rural women brought it. They stood guard duty together with
us, they were in shock groups, in the cells, and in the meetings. They
constituted the contact with Caranavi, Cañadón Antequera and Zongo.
Sunday we sighted troops and prepared the resistance. One woman said
that the road was mined and that they should come on foot. A lieutenant
was killed in combat and several soldiers were wounded in that first
encounter. The lieutenant had a brother (lieutenant-colonel) In El Alto,
and when he found out that his brother had died, he arrived with 19
"camanes" trucks, mortars and more small tanks. By Monday the
miners had no more ammunition and it was a slaughter. The fight took
place first in Sayacilla and Tacuni. The civilians of the community hid
in the hospital. At 5:30 in the morning an ambulance picked up the
lieutenant. Meanwhile miners arrived from San Vicente and from the
"Argentina" mine, but on Tuesday they had already won and we
had to flee. The town now looks like a cemetery of 1,500 workers. Four
hundred are left, because many have died, are imprisoned or have
escaped. All that is heard is the crying of the women and children.
4. Not having
received a response from the Bolivian Government, the Commission in a
note dated December 16, 1980, repeated its request for information and
mentioned the possible application of Article 39 of the regulations
concerning presumption of the truth of the facts. Despite this, to date
the IACHR has not received any response from the Bolivian Government.
1. Article 39 of
the Commission's Regulations establishes the following:
facts reported in the petition whose pertinent parts have been
transmitted to the government of the state in reference shall be
presumed to be true if, during the maximum period set by the Commission
under the provisions of Article 31, paragraph 5, the government has not
provided the pertinent information, as long as other evidence does not
lead to a different conclusion.
2. To date, the
Bolivian Government has not answered the Commission's request for
information in its notes dated August 29 and December 16, 1980. This
leads to the assumption that there are no domestic remedies to be
3. The lack of
response by the Bolivian Government to the Commission's request for
information leads to the conclusion that there is no reason for holding
the hearing for a friendly settlement provided for in the Commission's
denunciation itself states that the miners of the city of Caracoles,
where the events denounced took place, when informed that army
contingents had been sent to occupy the city, decided "not to
remain on the defensive any longer and to take the offensive, to prepare
the resistance... A lieutenant was killed in combat and several soldiers
were wounded in that first encounter";
5. The use of
force by the army against those who confront it with armed resistance to
end such offensive activities is legitimate to the extent necessary to
restore public order. Nevertheless, the excesses and abuses committed
against the persons who were no longer offering resistance, especially
those who had been taken prisoner, as the denunciation alleges occurred,
to which the government maces no reference in its answer, constitute
violations of the standards in existing treaties, to which on
humanitarian international law applicable to noninternational conflicts;
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
1. Pursuant to
Article 39 of the Regulations, to assume to be true the facts reported
in the facts reported in the communication of August 22, 1980,
concerning the community of Caracoles.
2. To point out to
the Bolivian Government that these events constitute serious violations
of the right to life (Article 4); the right to humane treatment (Article
5); and the right to personal liberty (Article 7) of the American
Convention on Human Rights, as well as Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva
Convention on protection of war victims, which has been ratified by the
3. To recommend to
the Government of Bolivia: a) that it order a full and impartial
investigation to determine responsibility for the excesses and abuses
that occurred during the events reported, b) that it punish those
responsible under Bolivian law, and c) that it inform the Commission
within 90 days of the measures taken.
4. To convey this
resolution to the Government of Bolivia for the appropriate purposes in
accordance with Article 44 of the Commission's Regulations.
5. If, after the
period established in paragraph 3 of this resolution, the Bolivian
Government has not set forth its observations the Commission shall
include this resolution in its annual report to the General Assembly
pursuant to Article 59 paragraph (g) of the Commission's Regulations