In a communication dated August 22, 1980, the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights received the following denunciation concerning the events which took place in the
community of Caracoles, Bolivia, on August 4, 1980.
The Max Toledo regiment of Viacha, a part of the Tarapaca and the Camacho de
Oruro regiments, attacked Caracoles with guns, mortars, tanks and light warplanes. The miners
defended themselves with stones, sticks and some dynamite charges. By Monday afternoon, most
of the miners were killed. Some of the survivors fled to the hills and others fled to the houses in
Villa Carmen. The soldiers pursued them and finished the men off in their homes. They took others and
tortured them and bayonetted many of them. They also cut the throats of the wounded.
They put dynamite in the mouth of a miner in the middle of the town square and
blew him to pieces.
They looted the homes and loaded the trucks with television sets, sewings
machines, stereo systems, hermoses, beds, money and merchandise from the stores, they also looted the
Manaco and Zamora agency, the general store, etc..
They beat the children with cables and made them eat gunpowder they made the
young men lie down on broken glass and made the mothers walk over them, later the soldiers
walked on top of them.
The soldiers acted like savage beasts because they were drugged; and they did not
hesitate to rape the women and also the young girls and even little girls.
They killed sheep, hens, pigs, etc.., and took them to the trucks.
At daybreak on August 5, they took the dead and wounded in three trucks headed
La Paz. They continued until Friday to bring the prisoners bound with wire.
They did not allow the women to gather the dead to give them a Christian burial, telling
them "there are no orders." Only on Friday did they give the order to pick up the dead, but only coats,
pants, jackets, jugs, shoes, ect., covered with blood were found. The dead had disappeared. Some
had been thrown into a pit behind the cemetery and identification was not permitted. There are
more or less 900 missing. It is not known whether they are dead or alive.
We list below the names of some of the missing, wounded, dead and imprisoned:
Olimpia de Sánchez Francisco Choque
Rutino Apaza Julio Hueso
Quintín Colque Ignacio Miranda
Pedro Choque Rufino Chambi
Three women bled to death as a result of the rapes.
Martin Urquiola Alberto Inca
Jorge Choque Andrés Villea (12
años) went mad
Alejandro Miranda David Salazar
Agustín Chile (minor) Antonio Inca
Monje Quispe Alberto Gonzalca
Pacífico Vargas Octavio Argollo
Juan Namani José Gutierrez
Genaro Zondo Félix Flores
IMPRISONED (seen at Staff Headquarters)
José Nina Ponciano Nina
Daniel Marco Valentín Lobo
Antonio Pérez Desiderio Mamani
Dionisio Laura Pedro Mérido
Eustaquio Flores Juan Mérida
Genaro Chipana Luis Zegorro
IMPRISONED (placed on board an airplane bound Puerto Rico, for Pando)
Ladiuldo Vargas (student in his fourth year of secondary school
According to an affidavit received by the Commission, the events occured as
It was Sunday, August 4, when 13 trucks and two small tanks of the Camacho,
Huachacala, and Bolivar regiments entered the community of Caracoles. We had been on strike
since the 17th, following the instructions of CONADE. We were told that it was necessary to hold out
until August 6, and we prepared ourselves for that. Some small arms, dynamite and automobile
batteries were gathered together and the access roads were mined. We had met on Friday and
were awaiting instructions, but there was no coordination. At that meeting It was decided not to remain
on the defensive any longer and to take the offensive.
A COB leader and three leaders from the Federación Sindical de Trabajadores
Mineros de Bolivia (FSTMB) were with us, but there were no communications with the outside, although it
was possible to achieve a connection with Yungas and other rural areas. The campesinos gathered in
Caracoles. They numbered from 1,200 to 1,500. Each one remained three days and went to bring
food. On the final days we had nothing to eat and the general stores were practically exhausted,
but we had food because our fellow rural women brought it. They stood guard duty together with us,
they were in shock groups, in the cells, and in the meetings. They constituted the contact with
Caranavi, Cañadón Antequera and Zongo.
On Sunday we sighted troops and prepared the resistance. One woman said that the road
was mined and that they should come on foot. A lieutenant was killed in combat and several soldiers
were wounded in that first encounter. The lieutenant had a brother (lieutenant-colonel) In E1
Alto, and when he found out that his brother had died, he arrived with 19 "camanes" trucks, mortars
and more small tanks. By Monday the miners had no more ammunition and it was a slaughter.
The fight took place first in Sayacilla and Tacuni. The civilians of the community hid in the hospital. At 5:30 in the morning an ambulance picked up the lieutenant. Meanwhile miners arrived from San
Vicente and from the "Argentina" mine, but on Tuesday they had already won and we had to flee. The
town now looks like a cemetery of 1,500 workers. Four hundred are left, because many have died, are
imprisoned or have escaped. All that is heard is the crying of the women and children.