UN report raises concerns over Bolivian violence
March 25, 2009 - The Associated Press

LA PAZ, Bolivia: The United Nations' human rights arm issued a report Wednesday finding that opponents of Bolivian President Evo Morales were responsible for some of the Andean country's worst human rights violations last year.

The 2008 report released by the U.N.'s Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights concludes that pro-autonomy forces in Bolivia's eastern lowlands were behind political violence in September that killed 11 people in the lowlands state of Pando.

Pando Gov. Leopoldo Fernandez was arrested for his alleged role in the killings.

The report, presented by U.N. official Denis Racicot, also raised concerns over political polarization in Bolivia, saying that differences between rivals has hindered efforts to bring those responsible for politically related violence to justice.

"Impunity is another factor that has affected justice," the report stated.

Following the presentation of the report, Bolivian Justice Minister Celima Torrico told a press conference that Morales' government "will take the recommendations into account."

Bolivia is sharply divided between mostly indigenous supporters of Morales from the poor arid western highlands, and descendants of Europeans who are clamoring for autonomy in the fertile east.

The report criticizes Morales' administration for "irregularities" surrounding the arrests that followed the violence and "the lack of necessary action among authorities responsible for preventing human rights violations."

But it gave the government high marks for improving "economic, social and cultural rights," noting that Morales has helped reduce servitude-like working conditions affecting much of the country's indigenous majority.