Bolivia

The Inter American Court of Human Rights has adopted its admissibility report on José Ignacio Orías Calvo’s conscientious objection case, presented by Derechos en Acción against Bolivia. The IACHR considered that the Bolivian state didn’t comply with its commitment of legislating on the human right of conscientious objection.

This November in Bolivia, sixty-two soldiers performing their military service at the Military Police School Regiment N°1 Saavedra requested to be discharged, arguing that they didn't want to attack their parents and families protesting on the streets.

Original statement in Spanish

This year on the 22nd of March, the Bolivian Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal (PCT) rejected the right of conscientious objection as an alternative to its obligatory military service. This has occurred in spite of the generally agreed-upon right to constitutional protection, brought to attention by 18-year-old objector Ignacio Orías Calvo, who claimed refuge under this fundamental right based on his religious beliefs.

This decision would not seem to follow the same logic of a government fostered by a constitution which, at least on paper, affirms that “Bolivia is a pacifist state, which promotes the Right to Peaceful Solutions and a Peaceful culture”. In actuality, what would appear to be a contradiction fits neatly within the patriarchal and militaristic confines that have characterized the Movement for Socialism of Bolivia (MAS), ever since its army first took root in the country. 

A conscientious objector in Bolivia, José Miguel Orías, has been recognised as a CO by a court in La Paz, provided he fulfills conditions they have stipulated. The Constitutional Court will now review the decision made in La Paz; this will likely happen within the next six months. 

The Bolivian Minister of Defence has previously publicly rejected the possibility of Bolivia recoginsiing the right of conscientious objection to military service, so the Constitutional Court may mirror his opinion.

Cesar Padilla, Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Latin America, OCMAL

It is not news to say that extractivism in Latin America has been imposing an increasingly deeper model of extraction and export. The competition to be a destination of mining, oil-reserves, forestry or fishing investment is a characteristic of the majority of the countries in the region.

However, extractavism is receiving increasing criticism from broad sections of society including academia and social movements.

By Angela Cuenca Sempértegui

The Bolivian economy is traditionally based on the extraction and export of large volumes of unprocessed natural resources, and this type of economy is called 'extractivist'. Mining and hydrocarbons are the most representative economic activities of this type, but what is often forgotten is that it is a case of extraction and exportation of non-renewable resources, resources that we are losing and thi is far worse if the exportation of raw materials (minerals) is controlled by others.

98% of extractive mining industry is run by the private sector (cooperatives and transnational companies). Just 2% is run by the state, meaning that the state has not regained sovereignty over mineral resources. Bolivia is facing serious environmental problems and violation of collective rights that have impacted water supplies, polluted the soils, and effected the health and quality of life of the people that live in territories with mining activities. Mining code Nº 1777, which favours the miners economic interests – and was approved by the ex-president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, himself a mining businessman (COMSUR) - is still valid.

Oil and minerals are two resources which the system consumes with a velocity and anxiety akin to that of an addiction, to such an extent that when these resources are in danger of becoming in short supply, either owing to their depletion or an increase in international prices, the system experiences a crisis, a ‘deliria tremens’, and becomes capable of killing, robbing, and committing armed assault, in order to restore the flow of these two resources into its economy. We saw in Iraq and in the Middle East what can happen because of oil; we saw in Conga Peru and in each of our so-called ‘mining’ countries the deaths that can come as a result of the pursuit of gold and other metals.

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