Bolivia: remains of "disappeared" socialist leader at military high command?

Hugo Rodas Morales, author of Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz, socialismo vivido, a new biography of the Bolivian socialist leader who "disappeared" in the military coup d'etat of July 1980, says that the martyred activist's remains are buried under the central flagpole at the headquarters of the armed forces high command in the Miraflores district of La Paz. Rodas cites a confession by School of the Americas graduate Col. Édgar Franco Montenegro that Quiroga Santa Cruz was buried below the high command flagpole after the coup. "We know that the remains are hostage of the armed forces," said Rodas. "The recognition of this reality is documented, there is no doubt that the remains are there."

In a commemoration of the coup anniversary this July 17, President Evo Morales said "the decisions that were taken by the ex-commanders [of the armed forces] were not because they wanted them, but [because] the North American empire decided that was what the armed forces had to do." Rodas protested these words as implying the military commanders were "not responsible" for the abuses following the coup, and accused Bolivian officials of maintaining a "pact of silence" over the matter.

The Socialist Party-1, the organization founded by Quiroga Santa Cruz, issued a statement charging that Bolivia's Pluri-national Legislative Assembly, despite having created a medal honoring the martyred leader and naming a new anti-corruption law after him, is "keeping a complicit silence" on the question of the whereabouts of his remains. (Los Tiempos, Cochabamba, July 26; La Razon, La Paz, July 22)

Col. Franco Montenegro was charged with human rights abuses in 2002, but was granted an amparo, an official order protecting him from prosecution. (Tribunal Constitucional de Bolivia, Resolucíon 1574/2002-R)

See our last posts on Bolivia and the Dirty War legacy.

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