Support Bolivian UUs Struggling for Justice and Human Rights
2009 Action of Immediate Witness
BECAUSE Bolivian Olga Flores Bedregal, who helped found a UU [Unitarian Universalist] congregation in La Paz, had a brother, Carlos Flores Bedregal, who disappeared at the hands of the military dictatorship in 1980; and
BECAUSE for the past 29 years Olga has petitioned the government for information on her brother’s whereabouts and protested this human rights violation to all three branches of the Bolivian government: the administrative, the legislative, and the judicial, exhausting all of her legal remedies with them to no effect; and
BECAUSE in 2006, Olga successfully won a case before the Organization of American States’ Human Rights Commission, calling upon the Bolivian government to redress this violation, which the government continued to ignore; and
BECAUSE Olga undertook a hunger strike on April 26, 2009, which lasted for over 30 days; and
BECAUSE Olga had attended the International Convocation of UU Women [ICUUW] in Houston in February 2009 and met many women from around the world who became inspired to write letters to the Bolivian government, international tribunals, and news agencies begging that the Bolivian Government accede to Olga’s request for redress and to end her dangerous protest; and
BECAUSE this UU woman’s brave campaign caused the Bolivian Legislature to pass a Resolution in early June 2009 that called for military archives to be opened; and
BECAUSE, although Olga found this victory to be incomplete, counsel from UUs in the ICUUW online community around the world, who promised to stand in solidarity with her, finally caused Olga to end her hunger strike on June 12, 2009; and
BECAUSE Olga is no longer isolated and her cause is now moving toward a positive resolution in her journey toward justice and human rights; and a Resolution is not binding, nor guarantees answers or justice—it must be reinforced; and unless UUs increase our support through action, the Bolivian government—a fragile democracy—may bow to the wishes of a recalcitrant military and allow the Resolution to die; and Bolivian law, specifically the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons Act, and Law No. 2640, which requires compensation to victims of political violence during the military regimes, could be ignored; and information, return of remains, and justice could still be denied to Olga and her compatriots; and
WHEREAS opportunity exists because the indigenous President Evo Morales values his good standing in the world court of public opinion; and
WHEREAS momentum now exists that reinforces our faith that collectively we can move towards justice, using this case as an exemplar of past and continuing disappearances and abuses; and
WHEREAS our values and beliefs in truth, justice, dignity, and human worth demand our attention and immediate action,
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that those in attendance at this General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association write to the Bolivian Ambassador to the United States (Ambassador Gustavo Guzman Saldana, Bolivian Embassy, 3014 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC, 20008; phone: (202) 232-4827 / 28; fax: (202) 232-8017; email: Embajada de Bolivia website) urging the Bolivian government, pursuant to its Resolution, and the InterAmerican Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons Act and Law No. 2640 to structure a Truth Commission to investigate, clarify, and adjudicate all suspected human rights violations.
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