IT IS TIME FOR JUSTICE FOR SEBASTIAN MORO, JOURNALIST!
This document, is officially part of the #JusticiaPorSebaMoro Campaign, which his family started with the slogan #SebastiánMoroFueElGolpe just after the perpetration of what all signs indicate was a political assassination, in the context of the November 2019 coup in Bolivia, the account of which was included in numerous reports and court presentations.
Currently the campaign for the Mendoza journalist is supported by human rights, political and social organizations from Latin America and the world. These groups support the effort for Memory, Truth and Justice so that it can be translated into trial and punishment of those responsible for at least 37 homicides, torture and kidnappings, among other crimes against humanity committed during the recent coup in Bolivia. Sebastián is one of those victims because his work as a journalist expressed a political commitment that this developing dictatorship wanted to silence and punish.
In fact, the GIEI -Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts- that investigated human rights violations throughout 2021, states in its final report that there were ‘post-electoral conflicts in Bolivia 2019’.
This investigation instructed by the IACHR and made official before the government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia in August 2021, indicates that Sebastián’s death should be considered along with the rest of the massacres that took place in the most critical days of November 2019 in La Paz and Cochabamba.
Born in Mendoza on May 14, 1979, Sebastián Moro is a thorough and tragic example that in Latin America, journalism censored and persecuted by power, is still valid and indispensable for the people committed to human rights and social struggles.
Sebastián worked for Radio Nacional in Mendoza, Argentina for almost a decade. He also wrote about human rights from a committed perspective for different media and covered the trials for crimes against humanity for the Juicios Mendoza journalistic group. That was the basis of the thesis with which he obtained the Bachelor’s degree of Social Communication from the National University of Cuyo. Sebastian was one of the thousands of journalists who for economic or political reasons lost their jobs in Argentina and/or suffered censorship and persecution with the arrival of the Cambiemos government headed by Mauricio Macri in 2015.
Attracted by the process of change led by Evo Morales and Álvaro García Linera, in February 2018 he decided to continue living in Bolivia. He settled in La Paz where he worked in the media of the Trade Union Confederation of Peasant Workers (Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos – CSUTCB) as chief editor of the newspaper Prensa Rural and host of a program on Radio Comunidad.
Sebastian also worked as a correspondent for the newspaper Página 12, having written dozens of articles on the process that came after the October 20, 2019 elections which led to the coup. In those days he was interviewed by the Argentinian media and by several South American media companies and his was a first warning voice about the unfolding anti-democratic sedition.
For example, in an interview with TV channel 9 Litoral, on November 7, Sebastián reported on the “continuous confrontations and paralysis of the country, because the groups loyal to the different sectors of the opposition were carrying out measures of force” and denounced the “modus operandi of these radicalized shock groups allied to civic committees, basically the Union Juvenil Cruceña, the most fanatical. Patricia Arce, the then Mayoress of Vinto, was kidnapped and then the Mayoress’s Office building was set on fire and destroyed. They took her to an isolated place and subjected her to various humiliations (…). This is an emerging picture of violence and racism that were thought to have been concealed and are now re-emerging’’.
“Sebastián was the first journalist in the world to report and denounce the coup d’état and in turn was one of the first fatal victim”, say his mother Raquel Rocchietti and his sisters Melody and Penelope. On Saturday November 9, on the eve of the coup that would take Jeanine Áñez to power, Sebastián told them via WhatsApp that the coup gangs had taken over the streets of La Paz and the headquarters of the CSUTCB. He also told them how they arrested, tied up and tortured José Aramayo, his direct boss and general director of the Confederation’s media, for several hours, just barely being saved from a lynching. Sebastián returned to his apartment where he finished a note for Página 12 and told them that he would go out “to relax for a while” because he knew that the next day he would have a lot of work.
On Sunday 10, after several hours of trying in vain to communicate with Sebastián, the Moro family asked a close friend to go and look for him. This person – today a witness with a protected identity – found him in his bed, semi-conscious and with signs of punches and saw some chairs thrown on the floor. Sebastián was admitted to a private clinic where he fell into a coma. Penelope arrived in La Paz on Monday the 11th, when Evo Morales had already resigned and the opponents looted his residence. At the clinic they informed her that her brother had suffered a life-threatening cerebrovascular accident (CVA). She photographed the marks on his body which the doctors attributed to an assault.
Raquel and Melody arrived in Bolivia on November 13. Sebastián’s condition worsened and at midnight on Saturday the 16th he died. His agony lasted seven days and he did not regain consciousness. Two days earlier, the executive power headed by Áñez had issued Decree 4078 that exempted police and military personnel who had participated in “operations to restore internal order” from criminal responsibility. It was denounced as a “license to kill” by protesters opposed to the de facto regime. In the following days, the dead would be counted by the dozens and the wounded by the hundreds.
In this context, the doctors at the clinic discouraged the Moro family from demanding an autopsy, while the Argentinian Consular officials were offering them as the only options: cremation and “leave the country as soon as possible”, or bury him in a common grave in a local cemetery. The Argentinian diplomatic authorities refused to repatriate his body by plane. Unable to make a complaint and fearing for their own safety Raquel, Penelope and Melody were forced to accept cremation and returned to Argentina with Sebastian’s ashes and without an autopsy.
On Thursday 14 at 20:32, the then Argentinian Security Minister Patricia Bullrich had published on her Twitter account @PatoBullrich: “We rescued and saved the threatened Argentinian journalists in #Bolivia, Thank you @gendarmeria for the permanent commitment”. Minutes earlier, when announcing it on the Todo Noticias channel, she declared: “We were able to get them out quickly without there being any kind of violence against them. There are no safety guarantees for working in the streets… We are available to any other reporter who is in the place”. That provision did not include Sebastian.
As soon as they were able to return to Argentina with Sebastián’s ashes, his mother and sisters began an arduous fight for truth and justice, which began with the complaint to the IACHR – Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
In its 2019 Annual Report of the IACHR’s Office of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Chapter “A. Freedom of expression in the context of the post-electoral political crisis in Bolivia” states: “Among the main violations of the exercise of freedom of expression and the right to access public information registered, there is the possible murder of journalist Sebastián Moro, among another 70 attacks on journalists surveyed in this context. Furthermore, the “extremely questionable” death of the Mendoza journalist was included in the report of the Argentinian Commission in Solidarity with the Bolivian people, where numerous indicators mention that “he suffered an attack prior to the long agony that ended a week later with his death”.
Likewise, the Moro family presented complaints in the Argentinian Federal Justice so that Sebastián’s case is included as a possible crime against humanity in the cases against the coup sedition in Bolivia that, based on the universal jurisdiction for the investigation and criminal prosecution of Human rights violations, are being processed in the courts of Córdoba and Mendoza.
At the same time, numerous human rights organisations, press trade unions, social and political leaders and journalists increased their solidarity and committment to support the demand for investigation and justice for Sebastián Moro. At present, the life of the Moro family is a never ending journey through institutional spheres, spaces of political activism and the media. Today Raquel, Melody and Penelope are the engine of a claim that grows and will not cease until truth and justice are achieved for Sebastián.
One year after the coup d’état was perpetrated the Bolivian people recovered democracy on November 8, 2020. With the sworn in of Luis Arce Catacora and David Choquehuanca as President and Vice President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, legality was recovered and the opportunity to present the Sebastián Moro case before the institutional justice of the country where he died, was enabled.
In this context, the Final Report of the GIEI – Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts that investigated in Bolivia “the acts of violence and human rights violations that occurred between September 1 and December 31, 2019” together with the Massacres of Huayllani, Sacaba (November 15, 2019, leaving 10 dead) and Senkata (November 19, at least another 10 dead) and other acts of violence attributed to paramilitary groups, the death of the Argentine journalist has been added.
On August 17, 2021, during the presentation of the GIEI’s Final Report, President Arce named Sebastian Moro among the 37 other victims of the violence of the right-wing coup for whom he promised justice and reparation. “Today we honour the memory of all the fatalities during this disastrous period and although the culprits never acknowledged their guilt, on behalf of the State we ask for their forgiveness and we feel the pain of their families”, said the Bolivian head of state.
On July 2021, an investigation carried out by the current Argentinian Ambassador Ariel Basteiro revealed that the government of former president Mauricio Macri was not only reluctant to define the sedition of November 10, 2019 as a coup, but also supported it with the shipment of weapons and ammunitions. The person who received the letter in which the former Bolivian Air Force Commander Gral. Jorge G. Terceros thanks the contribution of bellicose supplies, was the former ambassador Normando Álvarez García, the same one who, while Sebastián was dying in a private clinic in La Paz, was totally negligent and did not fulfill his promise to help at least with medicines and left him to his own devices. A similar idleness was shown by consular officials.
Throughout 2020, Sebastián’s family have demanded Justice through all kinds of procedures. The pandemic made it impossible for them to arrive in Bolivia to take charge of the case until October 2021. Then, his mother and his sisters were able to testify before the Bolivian justice system and became plaintiffs in a case that had already been opened ex-officio.
Their legal representative in Bolivia, Dra. Mary Carrasco, has submitted to the justice system a wealth of proof and statements from important witnesses in the case. However to date, both the prosecutor in charge and the police investigators have not followed through, rigorously or quickly what has been done. Therefore, they warn with anxiety the inefficiency and lack of interest that the Bolivian judiciary has shown in the proceedings, despite public political commitments and all the efforts of the family and social organisations that contributed to this process outside their native country.
Honouring his memory, reaching for the truth and doing justice is today a claim of society and a pending issue for the democratic states of both nations but also of the world, taking into account his legacy as a journalist linked to human rights causes.
Sebastián Moro was born in Argentina during the civil-military dictatorship headed by General Jorge Rafael Videla.
Sebastián Moro was assassinated in Bolivia during the coup led by Luis Fernando Camacho, Carlos Mesa, Arturo Murillo and Jeanine Áñez.
Sebastián Moro dedicated his work and his life to the fight for human rights, democracy with equality, memory, truth and justice.
We, therefore call on organisations, representatives, institutions and to all Latin Americans and the world, to support the demand for justice for the Argentinian journalist Sebastián Moro, in the struggle for Memory, Truth and Justice, so we can achieve justice and punish those responsible for crimes against humanity, amongst them the 37 murders during the recent coup in Bolivia.
Sebastián is another of those victims because his work as a journalist expressed a political commitment which that dictatorship wanted to silence and punish.