Those missing settled in Bolivia to spark a guerilla movementSunday, August 23, 2009
Argentine forensics team searches in Bolivia for missing persons
The forensic anthropologists from Argentina who are searching in the Bolivian area of Teoponte for 26 bodies of missing persons, among them Argentine citizens, will return to the search in September, although they have already found remains of five people in the first phase, according to team director Silvana Turner.
According to investigations, 69 people, mostly university students, settled in forests north of the city of La Paz in July 1970, to spark a guerrilla movement against the government of then-president Alfredo Ovando Candia.
It is thought that the victims, amongst which only 8 survived, were detained by military forces and executed at the site. Many of the bodies were returned to the families, but 26 people's remains are still being looked for.
Members of the Forensic Anthropology Team and Bolivian investigators began last July to search for those remains, as part of a project launched by the Justice Ministry in Bolivia and the Families of the Deceased and Disappeared Association (Asofamd).
The remains that have been found "will be analyzed at the Forensic Investigations Institue Laboratory (IDIF), in La Paz, by Argentine anthropologists" in Córdoba Province.
Turner said that "the climate conditions in the Yungas will probably lead to bad preservation conditions for the remains, and may limit the lab results in terms of anthropological and genetic studies."
Turner was in Bolivia in 2008 to participate in the exhumation of 13 bodies from the dictatorship of general Hugo Bánzer (1971-1978).
The project has been underway for three years, with the cooperation of the Argentine government, through the Technical Cooperation Fund from the Chancellery, together with the Swedish and Danish embassies in Bolivia.
The group of revolutionaries was integrated by Bolivians, Chileans, Argentines, Peruvians and Colombians, who tried to avoid being caught by the military.
Despite their efforts, the military caught up with the group and, in a period of three months, only 8 of those persons were able to survive.
It is suspected that the guerrillas in Teoponte were detained and executed on that terrain by the military, under orders from the dictatorship, and this is to be confirmed by future investigations.