Bolivia is laying to rest Morales supporters killed in clashes, as the UN warns the crisis may spin out of control and human rights groups sound alarm after military is allowed to use “all means possible” to deal with protesters.
Nine people were killed on Friday in a confrontation with security forces, when thousands of demonstrators supporting the ousted president Evo Morales – mostly indigenous coca growers like he was – attempted to march into the central city of Cochabamba, a Morales political stronghold. Some 115 people were injured, local media said.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights condemned what it called a disproportionate use of force against the protesters. It also denounced the government decree signed on Friday that exempts “personnel from Bolivia’s armed forces who participated in the operations of restoration and stability of the internal order” from criminal responsibility and authorizes them to use “all available means” to control the demonstrations.
La @CIDH alerta para el Decreto Supremo No. 4078 sobre actuación de FF.AA. en #Bolivia, de fecha 15 de nov 2019. El Decreto pretende eximir de responsabilidad penal al personal de FF.AA. que participe en los operativos para reestablecimiento y estabilidad del orden interno. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/297pEsNTVd
— CIDH – Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (@CIDH) November 16, 2019
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet expressed concern that the situation is “spinning out of control.”
“The country is split and people on both sides of the political divide are extremely angry. In a situation like this, repressive actions by the authorities will simply stoke that anger even further and are likely to jeopardize any possible avenue for dialogue,” she said.
The supporters of Morales, who resigned last Sunday and fled to Mexico after what he dubbed a military-backed coup, are predominantly indigenous people from rural areas who saw their interests prioritized for the first time in decades during his three presidential terms. His opponents are mostly middle class and urban populations who disapprove of his socialist reforms and accused his government of corruption. Morales’ re-election in October prompted protests in several large cities with activists harassing the former president’s supporters.