RESOLUTION Nº 33/82
March 8, 1982
1. In a
communication dated April 1981, the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights received the following denunciation:
Morales Barrera, painter and professor of the plastic arts, born in La
Paz (Bolivia) on November 12, 1946. Professor of the plastic arts at the
Higher School of Fine Arts for six years. From 1976 to 1979, he worked
as a sculptor in the Museum of Ethnography and Folklore, where he was
press and propaganda secretary of the First Union of Public Employees.
In February 1979, he had to leave the museum because of pressure exerted
by the Armed Forces.
Morales Barrera has no political affiliation, but his work as a painter
has expressed his disagreement with military coups, he is against de
facto governments and his tendency is leftist.
October 16, 1980, he was detained along with his mother in La Paz by
agents of the SIE (State Intelligence Service). Mrs. Morales was
released an hour later. Diego was taken to the Ministry of the Interior
where he was beaten and his papers confiscated. He was then taken to the
DIC Section Office in Obraje, a suburb of La Paz. He stayed there for
four days until October 20, handcuffed and with shackles on his feet, in
the dark, without water or food and without toilet facilities, only a
bucket for his physiological needs. On the 20th, he was taken to the
Ministry of the Interior. Using photographs of his paintings as their
grounds, they questioned him about his political affiliation, who had
financed his exhibit of pictures and whether he belonged to the ILN; the
interrogation was punctuated by blows to his ears and body.
doing the beating were agents, while those supervising and asking
questions appeared to be senior military officers. Between insults and
beatings, they terrorized him saying that they were going to take out
his eyes, cut off his hands or some other part of his body. This went on
more or less from two in the afternoon until eight at night, when three
army lieutenants belonging to the SIE took him to a house in the
satellite city of El Alto in La Paz: this is a low-income neighborhood
where most of the houses belong to workers and miners. The people in the
house were dressed in civilian clothing, but they were soldiers from
Tarapacá. Their leader was a captain and his seconds-in-command were
lieutenants, one of whom they nicknamed "Rommel." Although
they prepared the cattle-pick and in spite of continued threats, the
interrogations did not end in violence.
the 22nd, he had the opportunity to escape, since although he was
handcuffed when he was in his cell, he was so emaciated that he could
take them off. On the night of October 22nd, they brought in a prisoner
whom they savagely tortured by applying electric current to his
testicles. On the morning of the 23rd, the lieutenants gave the guards
orders to type out the confession of the man who had been tortured, and
to fix the wiring because they were to continue with Diego. When he
heard this, Diego decided to escape and overcoming his pain, he freed
himself from the handcuffs, jumped out of the window onto a garage, with
the assistance of a neighbor, and later found safe refuge in the Red
Cross and the Swiss Embassy until he obtained his safe-conduct, with the
cooperation of CIME, to go into exile in Switzerland.
2. In a note dated
May 10, 1981, the Commission transmitted the pertinent parts of the
denunciation to the Bolivian Government, asking it to provide any
information it considered pertinent, as well as any terms of reference
that would make it possible to decide whether remedies under domestic
law had been exhausted in the case in reference.
3. Not having
received a response from the Bolivian Government, the Commission, in a
note dated September 24, 1981, repeated its request for information and
mentioned the possible application of Article 39 of the Regulations
concerning presumption of the truth of the facts. Despite this, to date
the IACHR has not received any reply from the Bolivian Government.
4. The Commission
has received several reports confirming the arbitrary detention and
illegal acts to which Mr. Morales Barrera was subjected. It has also
been confirmed that, in fact, he left Bolivia in November 1980 and went
to Switzerland as an exile.
1. Article 39 of
the Commission's Regulations establishes the following:
facts reported in the petition whose pertinent parts have been
transmitted to the government of the state in reference shall be
presumed to be true if, during the maximum period set by the Commission
under the provisions of Article 31, paragraph 5, the government has not
provided the pertinent information, as long as other evidence does not
lead to a different conclusion.
2. To date, the
Bolivian Government has not answered the Commission's request for
information set forth in its notes dated May 10 and September 24, 1981,
which leads to the presumption that there are no domestic remedies to be
3. It appears from
the Government of Bolivia's failure to reply to the Commission's request
for information that there is no possibility of a friendly settlement,
as provided for in the Commission's Regulations.
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
1. In application
of Article 39 of the Regulations, to presume the events denounced in the
communication of May 10, 1981, concerning the arbitrary detention of Mr.
Diego Morales Barrera and the undue force used on him, to be true.
2. To observe to
the Government of Bolivia that such acts constitute serious violations
of the right to humane 'treatment (Article 5), of the right to personal
liberty (Article 7), and of the right to freedom of movement and
residence (Article 22) of the American Convention on Human Rights.
3. To recommend to
the Government of Bolivia: a) that it order a full and impartial
investigation to determine responsibility for the events denounced, b)
that it punish those responsible in accordance with Bolivian law, c)
that if it has not already done so, it allow Mr. Diego Morales Barrera
to return to his country, and d) that it inform the Commission within 90
days as to the measures taken.
4. To communicate
this resolution to the Government of Bolivia for all pertinent purposes,
in accordance with Article 44 of the Commission's Regulations.
5. If the
Government of Bolivia has not presented observations before the deadline
set in paragraph 3 of this resolution, the Commission shall include this
resolution in its Annual Report to the General Assembly in accordance
with Article 59 paragraph (g) of the Regulations of the Commission.