Witness Testimonies

Below you will find testimonies from some of the victims that ITEI has worked to support.

victim-1

Our work is focused on rehabilitating the victims of state violence and torture (as well as their families and communities) and taking action to prevent future violence. This is essential work given Bolivia´s political situation.

We collect first hand testimonies from the victims of state violence, firstly as part of their psychological rehabilitation, and secondly to raise awareness of how severe the problem in Bolivia is. Here are a few of their stories…

The following testimonies are all examples of torture which still goes on today, they took place during the government of the current President EVO MORALES AYMA

They tortured me from the 17th to the 20th of July. We arrived at the offices at 10.30am; about 25 army officers in camouflage clothing came in and started to beat me with no consideration for how strong they were and how hard they were hitting.  They kicked me in the head and were beating me against the hard, concrete ground. They grabbed hold of my head and pinned me down so that they could hit me. They hit me in the head and the back and caused me great pain in my shoulder blade. It´s only because God was protecting me that I survived. Dr. Ferrufino and Rojas the Vice Minister saw the whole thing… They put a black, nylon bag over my head. They covered my nose and mouth, I was handcuffed and they bound my feet together. Then they beat me and kicked me to the ground. I fractured my nose, cheek and ribs and got blood clots all over my body. At 11pm Gregorio Blanco and Luis Ferrufino (district attorneys), Mauricio Rojas (the government minister), four others and an older man (I guess about 60 years old) arrived. I believe, from piecing together my memories, that they made me sign something, they said “sign it you dick”. Then they started to hit my back and body again. My right eye was so swollen that it was entirely covered and I couldn´t see out of it. It stayed like that for a month afterwards. Even though I couldn´t see, I signed everything they wanted me to, I signed all the various documents that they thrust before me. The worst part was when they said to me: “your wife and children are in Obrajes (the women´s prison in La Paz) and they are being abused.” They also destroyed one of my hands; they put iron rods between my fingers and put pressure on my hand so that it was crushed. Juan Bascopé, Vice-President of the Apolo Beekeepers´Association
I was detained by the police when I got out of my car to alert the police that some delinquents had hired my taxi and run off without paying. The moment I got out of my car they aimed their guns at me; they used the barrel of a gun to hit me in the back, handcuffed me violently and shoved me into the police car. They dsc00918took me to the offices on the third floor of the FELCC (Specialist Bolivian Police Force). Then they took me to a room, tightened my handcuffs, and started to hit me. They stamped on my feet while they interrogated me about a kidnapping. Because I didn´t say anything they covered the hood that was over my head with a nylon bag and started to suffocate me and to hit me over and over again in the mouth. Then, they started giving me electric shocks in the leg and my right buttock. They paused for a moment to take off the hood and give me the chance to say something. I said nothing so they started the torture again, this time making the assaults more violent. They put a new hood over my head and threw me to the floor face-down. They stripped me from the waist up and gave me a stronger electric shock with a stick or garrotte or something, I don´t know, but they kept this up until I urinated. To finish off, they smashed my face against the floor and left me in that position. Throughout the whole time they were beating me they were threatening me as well. They were saying that they were going to kill me and rape me: “we´re going to stick our dicks in you, one up the front and one behind”, “we´re going to kill and launch your car off a cliff”, “we´re going to kill your parents and your son”. Testimony of a 40 year old woman who works as a Radio Taxi driver. Her testimony was given to ITEI on the 26th of May 2009.  
“I was subject to constant torture for two days. I was tortured by unknown people in hoods and by other members of the police who I could recognize because they didn´t cover their faces. I was detained but I had no legal support. They handcuffed us and took us somewhere in a wagon.  I remained handcuffed for 8 hours. Whilst threatening me by pointing a gun at my chest and giving me electric shocks with a special type of gun they asked me “where is Juan (Bascopé)?” At the worst point, they threatened to kill me and throw me out with the trash”. Testimony of Angel Piluy (Apolo Case)
José told ITEI that he was detained and physically and verbally assaulted by hooded police. They forced him to sign various documents and declarations without being able to read them; they wouldn´t let him observe while they searched his house. He was hit in the head and stomach and they threatened to kill him. They put a black plastic bag on his head and covered my nose and mouth with their hand to stop him breathing. They counted to 10 and then would permit him to breathe a little. “Some moments I could only gasp for air for a second and take in one small breath before they resumed cutting off my breathing, I almost lost consciousness because I have breathing problems”. Testimony of José Cantoral (Peruvian refugee in Bolivia).
In the “Belaunde case”, a lawyer was brutally tortured and Yuliano Arista (Curaca Blanco) and his daughter Carmen Arista were subjected to a classic method of psychological torture, which is to threaten to attack their family if they do not supply information. Yuliano Arista says that when he arrived in La Paz he received an order from the government telling him “Tell us where Belaunde is, or else you´ll be in deep shit and so will your family”. When he realized that his daughter had been detained he collapsed. He was ready to pay whatever it was for her to be freed. He asked how much they wanted, he had $2000. Major Larrea, head of the investigation told him $10,000. “If you want you can give me $8000 later”. His daughter, Carmen Arista testified – “on the road from Caracollo to La Paz, Colonel Ramos told me ‘your father hastold us everything’. When I could communicate with him, he told me ‘tell them everything you know’. I didn´t know anything, but it scared me when I heard him speak, he was ill, weak. Desperation came to me then, and through a lawyer in Brazil whose telephone number I had, I was able to communicate with Martin (Belaunde) and I told him with pain in my soul, begging him please, would he hand himself in because my family was detained”. Testimony of Yuliano Arista and his daughter. 
dsc00110On the 3rd of September, 2014, more than 80 veterinary students from the Indigenous University ‘Tupac Katari’ were transported to the Battalion of the Marina de Chúa under the pretext of completing military exercises, which in fact had a punitive function. The day had been organized according to the wishes of the Vice Chancellor, Mr Cimar Katari, and Captain Merix Bertiz Blanco, a professor and lecturer on ´Decolonisation´ at Tupac Katari. To start off with the students were forced to spend a whole day doing exercise which was strenuous and damaging to their health, accompanied the whole time by shouting, insults, and obscene and sexist songs, which served to cause fear and intimidation. From 9pm the second phase started… students were punched in sensitive areas of the body and sexually groped. Pepper spray was used in a dangerous and abuse way: it was sprayed on the ground of a hill that the male and female students were forced to drag themselves up, whilst inhaling the pepper spray which caused problems for their breathing and vision. This terrifying scenario was accompanied by burial music, screams of the soldiers, dynamite, and the lieutenants shouting and threatening ‘let’s go to the cemetery’. All of them watched as one of the students was kicked and booted by various soldiers until the instructor finally said ‘halt’, which provoked smiles and taunts from the soldiers. Testimony of various students at the Indigenous University ‘Tupac Katari’