Genocide It Is

What do you think of when you hear the word – genocide? Auschwitz, Darfur, Rwanda? How about Goni and El Alto? The Attorney General’s office in Bolivia has six months to present the case of genocide against former President Gonzalo “Goni” Sanchez de Lozada.

The Bolivian Congress insisted he should be accused of genocide – a term usually reserved for the systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial or ethnic group.

Two of his ministers, Carlos Sanchez Berzain and Yerko Kukoc were also named in these charges. His entire cabinet has also been named as accomplices. The charges stem from the deaths of 60 in El Alto and approximately 200 injured during the unrest of October 2003. Goni and Sanchez Berzain currently reside in the United States and may face extradition

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3 thoughts on “Genocide It Is

  1. Genocide? Why not crimes against humanity or against citizenship or against ethnic, religious and social minorities? I don’t know what are they thinking when they want to try GSL for Genocide.

  2. How about reckless use of troops? or not utilizing preventative measures?

    Perhaps the Congressmen who wanted to use the word “genocide” wants to get more international media attention. However, I think some might find using the word genocide is pretty ridiculous.

  3. Yes, using the term “genocide” is ridiculous. It also cheapens the term. It also betrays the ignorance of the people using it. But, of course, there’s always a few useful idiots in the direct-actio-not-thought crowd who’ll pass the meme along.

    Goni can be tried for negligence, or for complicity in bad orders. Or something. But not crimes against humanity, even that’s too strong. He was an executive who used force to repress protests that risked escalating into violence. It wasn’t “systematic” enough to fall under the crimes against humanity. And it didn’t involve chemical weapons, or indiscriminate killing of women/children, etc. There were riots, violent riots, and the police/military killed some people (and some of them died, too) in trying to restore order. We can argue that the response was too heavy handed (though I’m not convinced). But it’s neither genocide nor crimes against humanity.

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