Bolivia: Recent Lynchings Cause Concerns

A string of lynchings and attempted lynchings around Bolivia has caused a bit of concern around the country. The latest and most high-profile case [es] took place in the Altiplano town of Achacachi. Reports say that 11 men and women, who were allegedly accused of robbery were captured by local residents and were set ablaze. Two of the accused died, and the other 9 were badly burnt, but were saved when soldiers and the town's mayor pleaded that the lynching should stop.

Unfortunately, this is becoming a common scene, which widely shows up on the television news, as Renzo Colanzi writes [es]:

En Bolivia los linchamientos y la toma de la justicia por propia mano, son hechos comunes que se dan en los noticieros a cualquier hora, sin proteger al televidente de la violencia de las imágenes, sin importarle de la sensibilidad de los más pequeños que puedan presenciarlas. Pareciera que todos hemos creado una cierta barrera que nos permite mirar y permanecer impasibles ante estos hechos terribles. Los policías de Cochabamba se quedaron bien muertos y el caso sin culpables. Lo mismo que en Montero y así podemos encontrar situaciones similares en casi cualquier región del país.

In Bolivia, lynching and taking justice into one's own hands, are common events that can be seen on the news at all hours of the day. The television viewer is not protected from seeing the violent images, and even the smallest child is not protected from watching them. It would appear that we all have created a certain barrier that allows us to watch and remain passive regarding these terrible events. The police in Cochabamba remain dead and the case still has no suspects. It is the same in Montero and we can see similar situations in all regions of the country.

Whether or not lynchings are considered “community justice” is still being debated, and the government has officially condemned the action in Achacachi. They state that taking another life is not part of the indigenous tradition of “community justice.” However, local residents claim that they have little faith in the “ordinary justice” and must take matters into their own hands or the crime will continue. There is also widespread concern because the new draft Constitution, which will be voted upon at a January 25 Referendum, stipulates that “community justice” will be a legal and recognized part of the Bolivian judicial system, that lynchings could continue or even increase and used under the defense of “community justice.”

Erika Pinto places the blame on the government [es] for the lynchings.

Por que el presidente morales, tolera la barbarie, se estaba por quemar a una mujer embarazada, emboscaron y llevaron al stadium a un bus a los 11 supuestos ladrones, se veian gente de escasos recursos, muchas mujeres y gente bastante mayor a juzgar por las imagenes.

Es que acaso esto tambien nos da el derecho de cuando los ponchos rojos hagan las barbaridades que hacen poder matarlos a ellos?

O es que acaso la “nueva ley” funciona en un solo sentido?

Se supone que este gobierno era el que nos iba a llevar a un nuevo siglo de progreso pero solo nos esta llevando a la mas atrasada barbarie posible.

Because President Morales tolerates savagery, they were about to burn a pregnant woman, they ambushed them and took the 11 alleged thieves to the stadium. One could see low-income people, many women, and elderly people judging from the images.

Does this also give us the right when the “ponchos rojos” (members of a paramilitary group of Achacachi) make their savage acts to kill them too?

Or does the “new law” only work in one direction?

It was assumed that this government was going to take us towards a new century of progress, but it is only taking us to most backward savagery possible.

Mario Durán writes about a journalist who reminds people that the accused were not without guilt. [es]

Sin embargo, como lo decia la periodista Amalia Pando en Erbol, no eran unos angelitos, pues las personas que fueron capturadas en Achacachi poseian un frondoso prontuario policial… desde robo hasta robo agravado seguido de muerte.

Sin embargo, al igual que se condena la justicia por mano propia se debe condenar al sistema economico que origina la delincuencia.

Nevertheless, as the journalist Amalia Pando of Erbol says, that these people were no angels, those who were captured in Achacachi had a long police record… from robbery to aggravated robbery and even murder.

Nevertheless, as justice by one's own hands is condemened, so should the ecnomic system where delinquency originates should also be condemned.

Many indigenous groups are attempting to protect the reputation of “community justice.” Via the blog El Alto Noticias [es], blogger Nelson Vilca [es]interviews a member of the Guarayo indigenous group , who states that “community justice” does not mean “taking another life.”

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