Bolivia’s October 2019 national elections convulsed the country as fraud allegations triggered widespread protests and social conflict. Facing a national police mutiny and a public warning from the military to step down, then-President Evo Morales resigned and fled Bolivia. Amid the turmoil, security forces backed the installation of legislator Jeanine Áñez as interim president and cracked down on demonstrations in the towns of Sacaba and Senkata, killing at least 20 people and injuring hundreds more. Preliminary reporting by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) characterized the two episodes as massacres.

English

Spanish

In December 2019, the IACHR and the Áñez government signed an agreement to create an Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) to investigate the acts of violence and human rights violations that roiled Bolivia in the wake of the 2019 elections. The GIEI experts planned to travel to Bolivia in February 2020, but impediments created by the Áñez government and the COVID-19 pandemic forced the experts to delay their field investigations until November 2020 after Luis Arce had been elected president. 

The GIEI carried out its rigorous research with the resources and accompaniment of the IACHR and with financial support from the Mexican and U.S. governments, as well as from the Ford and Konrad Adenauer Foundations. In August 2021, the GIEI released its report and conclusions, including recommendations for much-needed reforms to strengthen a more credible national judicial response to this deeply polarizing period for Bolivians.  

On December 13 USIP and WOLA held an in-depth discussion of the GIEI’s findings and an examination of how the GIEI’s recommendations can promote the kind of accountability, healing and common understanding across Bolivia’s political and identity divides that could ultimately prevent the repetition of the conflict, violence and human rights violations that marked the country’s 2019 electoral crisis. Take part in the conversation on Twitter with #BoliviaGIEI.

Speakers

Steve Hegeintroductory remarks
Deputy Regional Director for Latin America, U.S. Institute of Peace

Juan Mendez
Former Member, GIEI; Professor of Human Rights Law in Residence, Washington College of Law, American University

Patricia Tappatá Valdez
Former Member, GIEI
Member, Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Jaime Vidal
Former Executive Secretary, GIEI; Coordinator, Follow-Up and Impact Section, IACHR

Senator Patricia Arce
First Secretary, Justice Commission, Senate of Bolivia

Eduardo Rodriguez Velzté
Former Interim President of Bolivia 

Alejandro Bilbao La Vieja
Chargé d’Affaires, of the Embassy of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to the US 

Kathryn Ledebur, moderator 
Director, Andean Information Network 

Related Publications

Keith Mines on the Future of U.S. Latin America Policy

Keith Mines on the Future of U.S. Latin America Policy

Thursday, November 12, 2020

By: Keith Mines

Intense polarization in Bolivia, Venezuela, and Colombia will present Washington with significant challenges in the years ahead. But USIP’s Keith Mines says, for the most part, leaders in those countries “are looking for a way forward … there’s a more realistic framework of coexistence that’s emerging.”

Type: Podcast

Global Policy

After a Year of Turmoil, Bolivia’s Election Offers Chance to Reduce Divides

After a Year of Turmoil, Bolivia’s Election Offers Chance to Reduce Divides

Thursday, October 22, 2020

By: Steve Hege

Bolivians took part on Sunday in one of the country’s most decisive and historic general elections, in which the former governing party Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) and its candidate Luis Arce garnered a resounding victory. The vote culminated nearly 12 months of instability since elections in October 2019 led to allegations of fraud, followed by massive street protests and the departure of former President Evo Morales after nearly 14 years in power. Bolivia has not experienced a peaceful transition of power since 2002, but a window of opportunity has opened for the ethnically diverse Andean nation to emerge from the paralyzing polarization that has plagued it over the past years.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

Truth Commission: Bolivia

Thursday, October 28, 1982

Truth Commission: National Commission for Investigation for Forced Disappearances Duration: 1982 - 1984 Charter: Supreme Decree No. 19241 Commissioners: 8 Report: No final report  

Type: Truth Commission

A Ripe Moment for Building Peace by Promoting International Religious Freedom

A Ripe Moment for Building Peace by Promoting International Religious Freedom

Monday, June 27, 2022

By: Peter Mandaville, Ph.D.;  Knox Thames

In late June and early July, two global convenings will highlight challenges to international religious freedom and the search for solutions: the IRF Summit for nongovernmental organizations and the International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief. These timely gatherings will bring together government representatives, activists and faith leaders from different religious, regional and political backgrounds to discuss a common goal of ending persecution. Two keys for their success will be creating diverse coalitions to advance international religious freedom (IRF) in a nonpartisan manner and linking the issue to broader concerns about peace and stability. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Human RightsReligion

View All Publications