Bolivia: Questions Over Murder of Indigenous Female Council Member

This post is part of our special coverage Indigenous Rights.

The murder of Juana Quispe has boosted the demand of Bolivian civil society and many civil organisations for the Plurinational Assembly (Bolivia's Parliament) to pass the law “Against Political Violence and Harassment based on Gender”.

Juana Quispe, an indigenous woman and Council Member elected in 2010 in Ancoraimes, a rural municipality close to El Alto city, was an active promoter of this law herself.

Being a member of Federación Pueblo Indígena (Indigenous Federation), a political movement opposing to the ruling party MAS, Quispe had been victim of political harassment before being murdered in March 2012. Only a month before the crime, Juana Quispe managed to restore her political rights constrained by MAS members shortly after being elected.

Back in November 2010, Enlared informed about [es] the political harassment against Juana Quispe:

La concejala Quispe Apaza, de la agrupación Federación Pueblo Indígena, señaló a Enlared-Onda Local, que desde la posesión de las autoridades ediles, el pasado 30 de mayo, no se le permitió participar de las sesiones del concejo, y que en varias oportunidades incluso le pidieron que renuncie a su curul.


Ante esta situación, indicó que determinó acudir a la fiscalía e iniciar un proceso judicial, por incumplimiento de fallos.

“Yo voy a seguir luchando, por las mujeres y no sólo por mí. Las mujeres somos muy calladas, yo misma he callado muchos meses, pero ahora tengo el valor para denunciar”, remarcó.

Council member Quispe Apaza, of the political group Indigenous Federation, told Local Enlared-Onda that since the possession of the municipal authorities, on May 30, she was not allowed to participate in council meetings, and that on several occasions was even asked to resign from her seat.


In this situation, she decided to go the prosecutor and start a legal process for breach of agreements.

“I will continue fighting for women and not just for me. Women are very quiet, I myself have remained in silence many months, but now I have the courage to denounce,” she said.

The same article added:

Pero este no es el único caso. La concejala del MAS del municipio de Licoma (La Paz), Noemí Nina Chávez indicó que por no tener una formación educativa y ser madre soltera fue discriminada por la misma población.

“Una vez, en el desfile del 16 de julio, no tenía dónde dejar mi guagua y cargada misma tuve que entrar; la gente me criticó, me dijo que cómo voy a andar con mi guagua así, con el cargo que tengo”, relató.

But this is not the only case. MAS councilwoman from the Licoma (La Paz) municipality, Noemí Nina Chávez, indicated that due to her lack of a formal education and to her status as single mother she had been discriminated by the population.

“One time, in the July 16 parade, I didn't have a place to leave my baby so I carried her with me; people criticized me, they asked how I dared to carry my baby like that, considering my position”, she said.

Global Voices [es] recently published an article based on a report by Periodismo Humano which asserted that in Bolivia, “being a woman and indigenous is the worst thing that could have happened to you.” As blogger Eduardo Bowles [es] points out, referring to the same report, “this tragedy is perfectly reflected in the life of Juana Quispe.”

So far, Bolivian authorities have failed to clarify Quispe's murder; however, there is great concern that her murder was politically driven. As UN Women's official statement [es] mentions:

Expresamos, además, nuestra profunda preocupación ante la posibilidad de que este suceso pudiera tratarse de un caso de violencia política de género, según indicarían investigaciones preliminares adelantadas por la Fuerza Especial de Lucha Contra el Crimen.

We also express our deep concern over the possibility that this event could be a case of gender political violence, according to preliminary investigations conducted by the Crime Task Force (Police).

Click Genero, a blog dealing with Gender issues, reported [es] on the draft of the law:

La Red Nacional de Trabajadoras de la Información y Comunicación (Red-Ada) el 2011, mediante una encuesta, concluyó que en Sucre, La Paz, Beni y El Alto, el 27 por ciento de las mujeres en cargos públicos se “asustan y callan”.

“Violencia política son acciones que van en contra de la integridad física de las personas. Hay secuestros o golpes para que dejen sus cargos y estos hechos no son denunciados”

After conducting a survey, The National Network of Women Workers in Information and Communication (Red-Ada) concluded that in Sucre, La Paz, Beni and El Alto, 27 percent of women in public positions get “scared and remain silent “.

“Political violence are actions that go against the physical integrity of people. There are kidnappings or blows to make them leave office and these incidents are not reported”

In turn, the Centre for Women's Information and Development (CIDEM [es] in Spanish) reported [es]:

En la gestión 2010 y entre Enero y Agosto de 2011 se registraron 249 asesinatos de mujeres, de los cuales 154 fueron casos de feminicidio (CIDEM, Observatorio Manuela).

El Estado debe tomar medidas urgentes para garantizar la adecuada y oportuna investigación, garantizando que este lamentable suceso no quede en la impunidad

During 2010 and between January and August 2011 there were 249 women murders, 154 of whom were cases of femicide.

The state must take urgent measures to ensure appropriate and timely investigation, ensuring that this unfortunate event will not remain in impunity

This post is part of our special coverage Indigenous Rights.

1 comment

  • […] Bolivia: Questions Over Murder of Indigenous Female Council Member, Pablo Andrés Rivero: The murder of Juana Quispe, an indigenous woman and Municipal Council Member, has boosted the demand for the Plurinational Assembly (Bolivia’s Parliament) to pass the Law “Against Political Violence and Harassment based on Gender”. Civil society and different organisations also demand appropriate and timely investigation of the unfortunate crime. […]

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