Maybe he’ll come to the U.S. on the Santrina

Bolivian Government Promises 30 Years in Jail for Prefect Leopoldo Fernández

Luigino Bracci Roa – Yvke Mundial, Erbol, ABI

Translation: Machetera

Monday, September 15, 2008. 8:21 a.m.

La Paz. – On Sunday the Executive Branch made it clear that it will not negotiate over the deaths from the Pando massacre, nor the responsibility of its material authors, and confirmed, in alluding to the Prefect of Pando, Leopoldo Fernández, that “murderers are not valid interlocutors.”

The Vice President of the Republic, Álvaro García Linera, and the Vice Minister for Coordination with Social Movements, Sacha Llorenti, both made this clear this Sunday at the Palacio Quemado, prior to meetings with the Prefect of Tarija, Mario Cossío, who brought the position of his brethren grouped in the so-called Democratic National Council (Conalde).

“The Government is not going to negotiate the deaths, the Government is not going to negotiate the criminal responsibility of those who perpetrated the massacre, the killers.  This is a separate point, it will not enter into the meeting,” García Linera assured emphatically.  He indicated that at a table for dialogue with the opposition prefects, the criminal would be differentiated from claims, affirming that departmental autonomy and the redistribution of resources from the Direct Tax on Hydrocarbons would be part of the dialogue.

In that context, he indicated that those responsible for the “Porvenir Massacre” as well as the fallen in Cobija, where at least 14 people were killed, will face the [justice] process and jail.  He said that the Government would not negotiate the acts “of criminal terrorism” against the country’s energy facilities, such as the closure of valves and the attempts to sabotage the pipelines, which took place in the department of Tarija.

“The killers, the slaughterers, the criminals will be pursued, judged and incarcerated.  This is not up for debate and no-one outside the judicial, police or military arena has any reason to involve themselves,” said García Linera.  He reproached certain senators and prefects who want to “extend a mantle of impunity over the massacre,” which took place in recent days in Pando department, whose governor is the Prefect Leopoldo Fernández, and who has also linked up with drug traffickers in order to sow terror in the region.  “This gentleman (Leopoldo Fernández), responsible for one or two dozen Bolivians has to assume his responsibility before justice,” he underlined.

At the same time, the Vice President announced that on Tuesday, in a congressional session, a Public Prosecutions commission will be formed to investigate the massacre in Pando and the direct participation of Prefect Fernández.  The National Goverment will not spare any effort to bring this gentleman to justice and implacable punishment, because the deaths are non-negotiable and will not be shortchanged,” he said.

Thirty Years in Prison

On Sunday night, the Government promised 30 years in jail for the Prefect of Pando, Leopoldo Fernández, for his presumed crimes against humanity, that according to the Executive Branch, he committed during last Friday’s peasant massacre in Pando.

The Vice Minister of Coordination with Social Movements, Sacha Llorenti, said that Fernández tried to diminish and evade his responsibility through his recent statements, but that the crimes he committed in the massacre of peasants would not go unpunished.  “What must remain absolutely clear is that this case will not remain unpunished, because we’re going to show that the institutions of the Bolivian state work, and within this framework, Leopoldo Fernández will face a sentence of 30 years without right to a pardon for the crimes he committed,” he said.

He said that the attitude of the Pando prefect, accused by the government of organizing and financing assassins in order to slaughter peasants, cannot be described in any other way than as genocide.

“For this reason, we insist that as soon as possible, an independent, impartial and complete investigation of what took place must move forward.  We are convinced that this process will end in a sentence against one of the greatest criminals in the republican life of our country,” he said.

He assured that the use of hired assassins, snipers, thugs and people hired from other countries to shoot the country’s humble citizens would not be allowed.  “We are talking about crimes against humanity that are unconscionable, for this reason Leopoldo Fernández will not find refuge in another country,” he said.  He said that the government has “overabundant” proof of its accusations, such as television pictures, testimonies from the victims and the authorities who witnessed the events.

“The bodies themselves are proof.  The shots were precisely in the head and heart, we see in the cadavers that the deaths were targeted against leaders (and others who were slaughtered).  It was an extremely thorough persecution,” he said.  He noted that the subject of these crimes would not be an obstacle to the dialogue process that has begun again with the Prefect of Tarija, Mario Cossio, because the deaths are non-negotiable.

“If someone wants to impose impunity as a condition of dialogue, there’s not need to talk, there’ll be no negotiation,” he remarked.

Machetera is a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.

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