GIEI Report Confirms Human Rights Violations in the 2019 U.S.-Backed Coup in Bolivia
A 471-page report by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts for Bolivia (GIEI-Bolivia) recently presented to Bolivian President Luis Arce in La Paz on Tuesday this week confirms the U.S.-backed coup’s persecution of opponents, including “systematic torture and summary executions” in 2019. The report is based on interviews with 400 victims of the Anez regime and other witnesses, as well as 120,000 files related to abuses between September 1 and December 31, 2019.
The findings prompted Bolivian prosecutors to charge the self-styled “interim leader” Jeanine Anez with genocide. Anez faces charges over the massacres in Sacaba and Senkata, where 20 protestors were killed by the security forces.
At the announcement of her arrest in March this year, Anez tweeted, “They are sending me to detention for four months to await a trial for a ‘coup’ that never happened.”
Yet the U.S. was swift to recognize Anez as interim president as well as to endorse the Organization of American State’s (OAS) report in 2019, which alleged electoral fraud in Bolivia with the intent to keep Evo Morales in power.
The former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s address to the OAS office in Washington gives quite a succinct summary of U.S. interference in Latin America – a twisted narrative of alleged democratic intent trickling down from the U.S., when the facts speak otherwise. Pompeo spoke of the U.S. role in recognizing Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president and how members of the OAS followed suit, as well as a historical overview which attempted to disfigure the leftist movements in Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s as “producing repression for their own kind at home.”
Pompeo also described Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela as the countries through which “we face stains of tyranny on a great canvas of freedom in our hemisphere,” before moving on to praise the OAS for its role in ousting Morales. And as is typical of the U.S., with its long history of supporting military coups in the region, not a word was uttered about Anez’s persecution of the indigenous in Bolivia.
Yet the OAS report was denounced by the New York Times as having “relied on incorrect data and inappropriate statistical techniques.” The Center for Economic and Policy Research’s Co-Director Mark Weisbrot declared, “If the OAS and Secretary General Luis Almagro are allowed to get away with such politically driven falsification of their electoral observation results again, this threatens not only Bolivian democracy but the democracy of any country where the OAS may be involved in elections in the future.”
The GIEI report has established that the Anez regime committed summary executions, torture and sexual violence against indigenous people. Through the report, the Sacaba and Senkata massacres were revisited and will once again form part of Bolivia’s most recent memory of U.S.-backed violence. Just a day prior to the Sacaba massacres, on November 14, 2019, Anez signed a decree which established impunity for Bolivia’s armed forces.
Contrary to the rushed way in which the Trump Administration had recognised Anez as Bolivia’s legitimate leader, the U.S. is reluctant to comment on the GIEI report findings which established the U.S.-backed regime as having committed human rights violations. In March this year, however, the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement in March after Anez’s arrest, stating he was “deeply concerned by growing signs of anti-democratic behavior and politicization” with regard to Bolivia’s quest for justice.
Of Bolivia’s quest for justice now, the U.S. can hardly be expected to voice support. Yet the report goes a long way in overturning the U.S. intervention narrative. Bolivia’s victims are victims of a U.S.-backed coup, and U.S.-funded political violence should equally share the spotlight now highlighting Anez’s short-lived legacy of human rights violations in Bolivia.