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Bolivia: Fear for safety / legal concern

, Index number: AMR 18/005/1996

Alejo Veliz, Luis Garcia, Andres Chavez, Nelson Rodriguez, Carmen Rojas (f), Nancy Teran (f), Sonia Ayala (f), Nicolas Quiroga Armiento, Miguel Mamani Fernandez: AI fears for the safety of four trade unionists whose whereabouts are unknown after having been arrested without warrants. A further 15 people are being detained without charge, apparently for their participation in a trade union demonstration.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 18/05/96
UA 104/96 Fear for Safety / Legal Concern 16 April 1996
BOLIVIAAlejo Véliz, General Secretary FSUTCC
Luis García, Press Officer FSUTCC
Andrés Chávez, trade union leader
Nelson Rodríguez, trade union leader
Carmen Rojas, teacher
Nancy Terán, teacher
Sonia Ayala, teacher
Nicolás Quiroga Armiento, factory worker
Miguel Mamani Fernández, teacher
and 10 other teachers
Amnesty International fears for the safety of four trade union activists whose
whereabouts are unknown following their arrest in Cochabamba on 14 and 15 April
1996. Amnesty International is also concerned that a further 15 people are
being detained without charge, apparently for their participation in a trade
union demonstration.
The arrests of Alejo Véliz, Luís García, Andrés Chávez and Nelson Rodríguez
appear to have been made in anticipation of demonstrations scheduled to coincide
with the meeting between ministers of the European Union and of Latin American
countries belonging to the Rio Group in Cochabamba on 15-16 April 1996.
Alejo Véliz, the Secretary-General of the Federación Sindical Única de
Trabajadores Campesinos de Cochabamba (FSUTCC), Peasant Workers Federation
of Cochabamba, was arrested on 14 April 1996 by agents wearing civilian clothes,
believed to be members of the intelligence services. Luis García, Press Officer
of the FSUTCC, and Andrés Chávez and Nelson Rodríguez, both leaders of the
Chillimarca trade union in Cochabamba, were arrested on the morning of 15 April.
The arrests were carried out without warrants. Relatives, lawyers and human
rights groups have been unable to find out where or on what charges the men
are being held.
Amnesty International believes that the four men may be being held in order
to put pressure on trade unionists in negotiations with the government. Alejo
Véliz was arrested previously on 2 February 1996, transferred to La Paz, and
released only after an agreement had been reached with the trade union.
A further 15 people were arrested during a small demonstration in Cochabamba
on 15 April 1996. They are being held in the Policía Técnica Judicial, Judicial
Police, in Cochabamba. They were arrested without warrants and have not been
charged.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The Cochabamba demonstrations of 15 April 1996 are part of a series of trade
union protests against government plans for "capitalizing" (which some regard
as privatization) the state-owned oil and gas company Yacimientos Petrolíferos
Fiscales Bolivianos. The demonstrations have also been in support of a petition
regarding salary increases by the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB), Bolivian
Workers Congress.
In recent years government austerity measures and moves towards privatization
of state-owned companies have led to numerous trade union protest actions.
Many of those participating in demonstrations have been arrested for short
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periods, some charged with sedition, and often the charges have been dropped
after a short time.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in Spanish or your own language:
- expressing concern at the arrests of Alejo Véliz, Luis García, Andrés Chávez
and Nelson Rodríguez, and of 15 demonstrators being held in the Policía Técnica
Judicial in Cochabamba, which were made without judicial warrants;
- urging that Alejo Véliz, Luis García, Andrés Chávez and Nelson Rodríguez
be granted access to their families and lawyers, and seeking assurances that
they are being treated in accordance with internationally recognized standards;
- requesting the names and places of detention of Alejo Véliz, Luis García,
Andrés Chávez and Nelson Rodríguez;
- seeking full details of the charges against all 19 detainees and urging that
in the absence of any charge for a recognizable criminal offence they be
immediately and unconditionally released.
APPEALS TO:
Minister of Government
Sr. Ministro de Gobierno
Dr. Carlos Sánchez Berzaín
Av. Arce esq. Belisario Salinas
La Paz, Bolivia
Telegrams: Sr. Ministro Gobierno, La Paz, Bolivia
Faxes: +59 12 371334
Salutation: Dear Minister, Señor Ministro
Minister of Justice
Sr. Ministro de Justicia
Dr. René Blattmann Bauer
Ministerio de Justicia
Palacio de Comunicaciones Piso 6,
Avenida Mariscal Santa Cruz
La Paz, Bolivia
Telegrams: Sr. Ministro Justicia, La Paz, Bolivia
Faxes: +59 12 356530
Salutation: Dear Minister, Señor Ministro
Mayor of Cochabamba
Sr. Prefecto Departamiento de Cochabamba
Dr.Alberto Gasser
Prefectura
Cochabamba
Telegrams: Sr. Prefecto, Cochabamba, Bolivia
Faxes: +591 42 52442
Salutation: Dear Mayor, Señor Prefecto
COPIES TO:
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Sr. Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto
Dr. Antonio Aranibar Quiroga
Ministerio de Relaciones
Exteriores y Culto
La Paz, Bolivia
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Telegrams: Sr. Ministro Relaciones Exteriores, La Paz, Bolivia
Faxes: +59 12 371155
Salutation: Dear Minister, Señor Ministro
Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, Cochabamba
Asambleia Permanente de los Derechos Humanos, Cochabamba
Plazuela Quintanilla
Edificio Los Tiempos
Cochabamba, Bolivia
and to diplomatic representatives of Bolivia accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 28 May 1996.

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