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An armed group perpetrated attacks within the TCO Itika Guasu in order to launch false accusations against the indigenous leaders
On the 21st April 2016, an armed group formed of three non-native Guarani people, who had already committed acts of violence, pillaging of forest resources and illegal occupation of land within the Original Community Territory of Itika Guasu (TCO Itika Guasu), perpetrated several attacks against Guaranis from the communities of Chorokepiau and Fuerte Viejo, both of which are situated within the TCO Itika Guasu and belong to the Assembly of the Guarani people Itika Guasu.
On Thursday 21st April 2016, a group of three armed people, led by Rolando Rómulo Torrez Labra (identity card no: 4123043 Tja) committed the following acts of violence against Guaranis of the TCO Itika Guasu:
- At around 18:30, brothers Everto, Carlos and Silvio Barrientos went to buy supplies from the grocery belonging to corregidor (who exercises de facto a similar power to that of a justice of the peace) of Tarupayo, Ciro Zambrana, and began the return journey on foot, between Tambo Tarupayo and the community where they live, Chorokepiau, when they were intercepted by a black jeep, occupied by Rómulo Torrez and his nephews, Nery and José Torrez, just by the pond of Ciro Zambrana, about halfway between Tarupayo and Chorokepiau.
The three occupants of the jeep were in a state of inebriety. They grabbed hold of Everto Barrientos by the throat and said to him: "So you're the 'macho one'? Now you're going to pay!". They took advantage of the fact that Everto was wearing a hat equipped with a chinstrap and seizing it, knocked him to the ground so they could deliver him with blows from their fists and feet.
Carlos and Silvio Barrientos ran away because Rolando Torrez was threatening them with a firearm in the style of a revolver or pistol.
During this time, Everto Barrientos continued to be battered with blows up until the moment when he lost consciousness. After a while, less than two hours in any case, he came to, half-naked, bloody, and he stood up. At this moment, Rolando Torrez saw him and began to chase him. Everto hid himself in amongst the undergrowth and stayed there.
The three assailants destroyed and scattered the supplies bought by the Barrientos brothers.
- 19:15: Carlos Barrientos calls his brother Eyber Barrientos and informs him of the attack on Everto by the Torrez. Once informed, the Chorokepiau community gathers together and leave to search for Everto, following directions given by telephone.
- Around 20:00, Everto is found, hidden and wounded. Marino Gallardo, in charge of relations with communities pertaining to legal affairs, is contacted, thanks to the telephone of one of the brothers, in order to inform the police of the provincial capital of Entre Ríos of the incident and to ask him to visit the area with the aim of verifying the facts.
- Around the same moment, at about 20:00, aboard the same vehicle, Rolando Torrez and his nephews Nery and José suddenly burst into the community of Fuerte Viejo, also belonging to the APG IG, and headed towards the home of Mrs Isabel Escalante and her son Paulino González. They got out of the vehicle and requested to see Paulino González, who was not at his house. When Mrs Escalante told them that he was at Entre Ríos they aggressively gained entry into the house and began to hit the furniture and domestic goods. Whilst hitting the chairs and table, they announced that they were looking for Paulino González in order to kill him. They also asked her if Mario Miranda was there, as "he's also pissing us off". Mrs Escalante´s dogs forced the Torrez to leave the residence. They then took the direction of Chorokepiau. These facts have been denounced by Mario Miranda, the Mburuvicha of the Fuerte Viejo community.
- 20:30: Rolando Torrez, this time in his jeep by himself, passes by the site where Everto Barrientos had been assaulted, where several inhabitants of Chorokepiau have gathered to protect the injured person and await the arrival of the police. The Guaranis present in the area ask him for an explanation and reproach him for his behaviour.
- 22:30: Shots from a firearm are heard in the clearing. These shots were once more directed from Rolando Torrez who had returned to the area in his jeep. The Guaranis were located on one side of the path and upon seeing Torrez, two of them obstructed his pathway to demand the reasons for the assault on Everto Barrientos.
The answer from the occupants inside the jeep was to produce the gun and threaten them with it. Inside the jeep were Rolando Torrez, his uncle Fortunato Torrez and the latter's sons, Nery and José. In addition, Rolando Torrez had at his disposal a pistol or revolver and Nery Torrez, a gun, a dagger and a rebenque, a type of whip used for horses.
At the sight of this threat, the Guaranis present gathered. Seeing how numerous they were, Rolando Torrez tried to escape in his jeep, but the response of the Guaranis was to hit the jeep with sticks and break the windscreen.
In order to take the gun from Nery's hands, the Guaranis hit him with a stick. What then followed was a clash of punches and blows from the sticks. Noticing that they had succeeded in surrounding the Torrez and since they had taken possession of the gun, the Guaranis stopped and told them to go. The four Torrez climbed into the jeep and left.
- 23:00: Eyber Barrientos calls the APG IG at Entre Ríos from Carlos Barrientos's telephone and asks for the police to come to Chorokepiau. He is told that the police will not go and Eyber Barrientos then asks for at least a legal representative from the APG IG to come in order to attest to the Torrez's aggression against their friends and the supplies that they had just bought.
Action of the Legal Department of the APG IG at Entre Ríos
- 20:00: Barely had Marino Gallardo received the denunciation of the events that had occurred at Chorokepiau, when he returned to the police to file a complaint.
The corporal on duty told him that the complaint could not be received as the person responsible for this type of problem, sergeant Delgado, was not there. He announced that he was not able to send a police patrol as all the police officers were already engaged in surveillance roles in the locality, despite knowing that this was not the first time Rolando Torrez had acted in this manner and that the aggression warranted immediate arrest.
- 21:00: The Legal Department of the APG manage to have a discussion with sergeant Delgado, who states that he is tired and requests that they come to see him the following day.
- 23:00: After having been informed of the events, several members of the APG IG return from Entre Ríos to Chorokepiau without help from the police in order to record the facts at the site and the state of the wounded.
- Friday 22nd April, 05:00: The members from the group who travelled to Chorokepiau return to Entre Ríos with the wounded.
- Due to the seriousness of the injuries, it is requested that the State Prosecutor arrange for a forensic examination to be carried out. This examination took place at Tarija, the capital of the area, during the afternoon of Friday 22nd April.
No information can be provided concerning the intervention of the police as none took place.
Details of the lack of attention and discriminatory treatment of the Guaranis at the hospital of Entre Ríos
Once the wounded Guaranis arrived at the hospital of Entre Ríos early in the morning on the 22nd April, they learned that the Torrez has been transferred by ambulance from Tarupayo. The hospital staff immediately took care of these latter patients, while the wounded Guaranis had to wait until 08:00 and had to pay for the consultation.
From that moment on, the hospital of Entre Ríos became a mise en scène created by the group led by Hugo Arebayo who had already tried to take over the management of the APG IG in his attempt to usurp its legitimate authorities.
Lorgio Bustos, Eloy Novillo and Eduardo Segundo, members of this organised group, quickly arrived at the hospital. Eloy Novillo exclaimed that "thanks to this, Never will never be president", referring to Never Barrientos, the president of the APG IG, who relies on the support of the APG Itika Guasu communities, and who, since 2014, has had to contend with the illegal actions of this group.
It is necessary to clarify that, despite sharing the same surname, Never Barrientos is not related to the family of the people wounded.
The group of aggressors were supported by some other people who, equipped with cameras, gained admittance into the hospital with the purpose of "informing" (sic) El País, the Tarija newspaper, known for its editorial line being discriminatory towards the Guaranis.
One relative of the Torrez in the hospital cried out that the Guaranis are chawancos, a designation that was employed by masters during the time when Guaranis were subjected to slavery, a custom that has not completely disappeared in the Bolivian Chaco. She called the Guaranis "alcoholics".
The medical care bestowed on the four members of the Torrez family was extremely fast-acting and effective. The medical care which they received during the first few hours, was designed to guarantee them rest, so that the effects of the alcohol would wear off.
More drama ensued with the arrival of local and provincial government officials at the hospital.
Whilst the aggressors were lying on the stretchers and benefiting from continued medical care, the three Guaranis were left unattended in their injured state since, according to staff, "their condition was not serious".
The aggressors continued to take photos until 07:00 and it is suspected that one of them bandaged his own head just to have a picture taken. The images of Nery and Rolando Torrez have been published by the Tarija newspaper, El País.
Police troops were present but inactive.
10:00: The effects of the alcohol having disappeared, the aggressors were transferred to Tarija by ambulance as, after several hours in the hospital, the medical staff decided at that moment that this transferal was necessary.
The doctors informed the Guaranis that they were no longer able to care for them and ordered that they return to Tarija, without an ambulance.
The state of the attacked Guaranis
In comparison with the apparent good health of Rolando Torrez during his appearance on the television channel PLUS TLT (belonging to the same owner of El País in Tarija), where he testified in order to spread the idea that Eyber Barrientos was the perpetrator of the events, the medical assessment of the injured Guaranis, according to information taken from the forensic examination, is as follows:
EVERTO BARRIENTOS ANTEZANA:
- Skull: 5 x 6 cm area of contusion located in the right parietal area.
- Face: clear green coloured ecchymoses in the inferior right palpebral area. Excoriation on the bridge of the nose. Oedema in the nasal area.
- Neck: traumatic linear ecchymoses ceasing at the right-sided oblique.
- Upper limbs: green coloured punctiform ecchymoses of 6 x 5 cm on the inner surface of the proximal third of the left arm. Excoriation with epidermal fold on the right elbow.
- Lower limbs: presence of fifteen lesions due to thorns, located on the anteromedial surface of the right knee.
The forensic doctor concludes that these lesions are compatible with a direct and tangential traumatism caused by a blunt object with blunt edges, causing the contused area, and correspond with the date of the attack.
DAVID BARRIENTOS ANTEZANA:
The lesions which are present on the face and the body are due to a traumatism caused by a blunt object. The lesions correspond with the date of the attack.
ROSA ANTEZANA AGUILERA:
Lesions on the upper limb, lumbar region and thighs, these latter traumatic lesions having been caused by thorns, coinciding with the facts of the account. The lesions correspond with the date of the attack.
Rosa Antezana had to borrow 7 Bs. to buy some analgesics.
In all three cases, the forensic report concludes that the multiple contusions suffered by the victims were caused by violence exerted by a group.
Equally wounded, yet not present at the hospital were: José Ortega, who received blows from a stick, the community leader (Mburuvicha) Abel Barrientos and Roberto Segundo.
CONTEXT AND HISTORY
The facts reported, comprising the latter prevarication and their arrangement for the purpose of criminalization, make up part of the systematic persecution suffered by the Guaranis of Itika Guasu at the hands of a local group headed by Sub-Governor Walter Ferrufino Gaite, the latter being known for descending from a family of distinctly known slave drivers and using methods similar to that of organized crime.
Walter Ferrufino Gaite has had around twenty people under contract for more than two years. This group aims to harass Guarani organizations employing the very same methods used by the mafia such as false accusations, threats, intimidations, extortion and forced cooptation. To achieve their goals they use any type of false documents with which, thanks to the legal support from the lawyers belonging to their group, they attempt to usurp the legal personnality of indigenous organizations and their leaders.
This group of kapangas organised by the malevolent Sub-Governor Walter Ferrufino is spearheaded by the Guaranis Hugo Arebayo Corimayo, his brother René Arebayo Corimayo and his uncle Anastacio Arebayo. These latter two were both working as civil servants in 2014 and since October 2012 all three have been subjected to sanctions according to the ways and customs of the APG IG, from which date they are forbidden by the APG IG to hold any representational posts, both internally and those related to third party.
In the local area, people have even started to talk about the "Ferrufino-Arebayos cartel", in reference to the questionable origin of the enormous sums of money possessed by the group.
This is not the first time that the Torrez family has been involved in acts of intimidation, threats and violence committed by this group of kapangas towards the Guaranis of Chorokepiau, as one can observe from the account of previous history found below.
Marco Antonio Cardozo Jemio, who pretended to be a legal representative of the APG IG and who defended Hugo Arebayo in court appearing as an "advocate" despite the Department of Justice certifying that he lacks any authoritative title to in fact be a lawyer, may have also made up part of the legal plot woven by this group.
On the 24th June 2014, Rolando Torrez, a non-native Guarani who frequented the Chorokepiau community, which is located within the TCO Itika Guasu, began to undertake some unauthorised agricultural work, including fencing off an enclosure with the intention of asserting his legal rights of ownership, a right which he did not have. Furthermore, the act itself was against the laws and customs in force in the country.
Upon learning of this, the community set about the dismantlement of the demarcation posts that had been placed by Rolando Torrez. In response to this action, Torrez threatened the community by brandishing a chainsaw, with which he attempted to attack the arms of one of them. The inhabitants therefore confiscated the chainsaw and stored it away. This decision was undertaken within the legal indigenous framework of TCO Itika Guasu and in accordance with its customs and practices.
Moreover, while the inhabitants returned to their homes, the uncle of Rolando Torrez, Fortunato Torrez, appeared, brandishing a shotgun in a threatening manner, with the desire to stir up ill feeling and create terror in the community.
Given the risk that Rolando Torrez posed to the inhabitants and having seen that it was impossible for Mr Torrez to respect the decision taken by the community, that is to say, by the relevant authorities of the indigenous jurisdiction, a complaint was filed on the 7th July 2014 by Evyer Barrientos, resident Guarani of Chorokepiau, against Mr Torrez for the facts above.
On the 7th July 2014, the complaint was dismissed by the Fiscal de Materia III (prosecutor) of Entre Ríos (Tarija), Mr Gabriel Alarcón Barrios, as "the facts were not clear". This decision was contested, and on the 9th July 2014, he issued an order for a series of investigative measures to be taken.
However, this same prosecutor deemed the complaint filed by Rolando Torrez against Eyber Barrientos for "robbery with violence" as admissible. The person behind the threats judged that the chainsaw had been stolen from him, despite its confiscation being in compliance with the decision made by the jurisdictional indigenous authorities, a decision that the prosecutor should have followed. The complaint for "robbery with violence" came under case no. 102/2014, in which the inquest was prolonged for 90 days due to a decision made by the prosecutor on the 5th September 2014, a decision was which probably the very last procedural action taken by the prosecutor Gabriel Alarcón Barrios before leaving his post at Entre Ríos. In the course of this decision, he affirmed that the inquest in the case no. 102/2014 had begun on the 3rd January 2014, while the cover of the case file indicated that the matter had begun in July 2014.
We emphasize that in his presentation of the facts relative to the complaint of "robbery with violence", Rolando Torrez indicated that the events took place whilst he was "in the middle of working in my enclosure situated in the Chopoquipiau community; I was making improvements on my fence with a chainsaw [...]". Mr Torrez has absolutely no legal right of property on this plot, as it forms part of the communal territory belonging to the APG IG. For this reason, the inhabitants, after having informed Mr Torrez, began to dismantle the demarcation posts that he had put in place.
The issue here is an offense of threats, that were provoked by the facts, but these facts also constitute the crime of despoliation (article 351 of the Bolivian Criminal Code) and that of disturbance of possession (article 353 of the Bolivian Criminal Code).
The decisions made by the prosecutor of Entre Ríos did not respect, once again, the decisions of the jurisdictional native indigenous authorities. Their decisions should have been respected in compliance with Article 12 of the Judicial Demarcation Act (Ley de Deslinde Jurisdiccional) of the 29th December 2010.
The heart of the problem is precisely the ordinary justice system's failure to recognise the decisions made by the native indigenous jurisdiction, given that the problem originates from the usurpation of territory belonging to the TCO Itika Guasu for exploitation means and the illegal trafficking of forest resources, an issue which both the complainant and people not belonging to the TCO Itika Guasu are participating in.
The APG IG have denounced these facts before the Supervisory Authority of Forests and Territories (Autoridad de Fiscalización y Control Social de Bosques y Tierras - ABT) of Bolivia, a public body competent in the matter, who have effectively verified that associates of Rolando Torrez, namely Leopoldo Torrez Nieto and Fortunato Torrez Rueda have illegally used forest resources belonging to the TCO Itika Guasu. The ABT has henceforth ordered a cessation of the tree felling that these gentlemen have been involved in.
During this time, other associates of Rolando Torrez may have been in the middle of filing complaints against Guaranis of Chorokepiau, complaints that would have been made with the intention of continuing the illegal trafficking of forest resources, which do not belong to them, as well as trying to enforce de facto control and occupation of the territories belonging to the APG IG.
Public action in Entre Ríos and Tarija up til now, has not only not respected the decisions made by the native indigenous legal authorities within the TCO Itika Guasu, it has equally remained defiant in the face of principles of legality, objectivity and autonomy, for entirely the opposite reason, that is; to try and protect these on-going machinations that are sanctioned by law no. 477, of the 30th December 2013, regarding the control and trafficking of territories, that the new Article 351bis from the Criminal Code sanctions as well, when such acts of subjugation are directed against an indigenous population.
[Source: Equipo Nizkor, Charleroi, 25Apr16]
DDHH en Bolivia
|This document has been published on 13Oct16 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.|