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Mamani, et al. v. Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín is a federal lawsuit filed against Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, the former President of Bolivia, and Carlos Sánchez Berzaín, the former Minister of Defense, charging both men for their roles in planning and ordering extrajudicial killings of civilians between September and October of 2003 in an effort to repress protests over their controversial economic policies.
On May 20, 2014, Judge James Cohn ordered that Plaintiffs’ claims under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) could proceed because they sufficiently alleged facts that “plausibly suggest that these killings were deliberate” and because they adequately alleged that Defendants were responsible for the killings.
Mamani, et al. v. Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzain is a federal lawsuit filed against the former President of Bolivia, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, and the former Minister of Defense, Carlos Sánchez Berzaín, for their roles in the killing of civilians during popular protests against the Bolivian government in September and October 2003.
The suit, which seeks compensatory and punitive damages under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), and Florida and Bolivian law, charges Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín with extrajudicial killings, crimes against humanity, and wrongful death for their roles in the massacre of unarmed civilians, including children. Even before Sánchez de Lozada took power, the two men had devised a plan to kill thousands of civilians to stop anticipated protest over controversial new economic policies. In September and October 2003, Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín ordered Bolivian security forces to use deadly force against unarmed civilians to suppress popular protests against government policies. In all, during those two months forces under their leadership killed 67 men, women, and children and injured more than 400, almost all from indigenous Aymara communities.
Each of the nine Plaintiffs is the survivor of one of the individuals killed by forces under Sánchez de Lozada's and Sánchez Berzaín's command. Among the nine Plaintiffs are Eloy Rojas Mamani and Etelvina Ramos Mamani, whose 8-year-old daughter was killed in her mother's bedroom when a single shot was fired through the window; Teofilo Baltazar Cerro, whose pregnant wife was killed after a bullet was fired through the wall of a house, killing her and her unborn child; Felicidad Rosa Huanca Quispe, whose 69-year-old father was shot and killed along a roadside; and Gonzalo Mamani Aguilar, whose father was shot and killed.
The legal team includes CCR cooperating attorneys Judith Chomsky and Beth Stephens; David Rudovsky of Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg, LLP; Paul Hoffman of Schonbrun, DeSimone, Seplow, Harris and Hoffman; Steven Schulman, Michael Small, and Jeremy Bollinger from the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP; Tyler Giannini and Susan Farbstein from the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School; and Ira Kurzban and Geoffrey Hoffman from Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger & Tetzoli.
On September 26, 2007, the two cases were filed, one in U.S. federal court in the District of Maryland against Sánchez de Lozada and the other in the Southern District of Florida against Sánchez Berzaín.