Bolivia: Fear for safety
28 November 2007 - Amnsty International
Urgemt Action Call: AMR
UA 318/07 Fear for safety
BOLIVIA Hundreds of protesters in the city of Sucre
Gonzalo Durán Carazani (m)
Juan Carlos Serrudo Murrillo (m)
José Luis Cardozo (m)
Protesters in the southern city of Sucre, Chuquisaca department, are
following violence by demonstrators and police on 24 and 25 November,
three people died. During the second day of violence, the authorities
police off the streets in a bid to contain the fighting.
The protests came as at least 138 pro-government Constituent Assembly
met in a military training school in Sucre to approve the outlines of
draft constitution. The meeting was boycotted by Assembly members from
opposition parties. On 24 November, protestor Gonzalo Duran Carazani
died of a
gunshot wound. Juan Carlos Serrudo Murrillo, a 25-year-old student died
November after being hit in the chest by a tear gas canister fired into
crowd by police. Another protester, José Luis Cardozo, died on
26 November of a
gunshot wound he received during the disturbances.
According to national and international press reports, on 24 November
used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse thousands of demonstrators,
were armed with rocks and clubs. The following day, some protesters armed
stones, firecrackers, and molotov cocktails attacked the headquarters
Transport Police (Organismo Operativo de Transito), destroying computer
equipment and documents, and setting fire to motorcycles and a dozen
civilian cars. Following the attack, police officers were ordered off
streets by authorities in a bid to contain the violence.
The Constituent Assembly, which meets in Sucre, was set up in August
write Bolivia's new constitution – a task that social movements
had urged the
authorities to undertake for decades. However, this process has led to
of violent demonstrations by civilian groups from different political
in recent months in Sucre and other cities, in which several people have
The Constituent Assembly was given a maximum of one year to write Bolivia’s
constitution. It is made up of 255 members, 137 of whom come from Evo
party, the Movement Towards Socialism (Movimiento al Socialismo, MAS).
The assembly has polarized the country and heightened tension between
Morales and his conservative rivals, who want more autonomy for the regions
they govern. A campaign was also initiated by the opposition in early
Sucre, calling on the Assembly to debate moving the seat of government
Congress to Sucre from La Paz, which is a stronghold of support for the
president. The demand to make Sucre the political and administrative
has aroused tensions in the capital, La Paz, and also in Sucre. Sucre
Bolivia’s capital until 1899 and currently houses the Supreme Court.
In August 2007, one year after the Constituent Assembly was inaugurated,
one text had been approved and so a law was passed to allow the Assembly
continue its work until 14 December. Assembly members determined to put
the debate on moving the capital in order to move forward with their
This decision was met with violent opposition in Sucre and sessions were
suspended. Following one of the most violent days of protest in Sucre
September, the Chuquisaca Court of Justice ordered the Assembly to debate
issue of the capital during its sessions. On 21 November the Assembly
its sessions for the eighth time amid fears for the security of its members.
reconvened on 23 November, and during this session a draft outline of
constitution was approved by 138 members of the Constituent Assembly.
constitution will be put to a referendum.