Episode 6: The Legal Fight of Indigenous Bolivians Who Put Their President on Trial

September 13, 2018


Ian Head, Aliya Hussain, Leah Todd, Beth Stephens, Judith Chomsky, Jason Swain

On the sixth episode of The Activist Files, CCR Senior Legal Worker Leah Todd talks to attorneys Beth Stephens and Judith Chomsky, who both formerly worked at CCR and continue to collaborate as cooperating counsel on key cases. Beth and Judith represent a group of indigenous Bolivians who brought their former president to trial in the United States for ordering a military massacre that killed their family members. Mamani, et al. v. Sánchez de Lozada, a case that has spanned over a decade, went to trial this past spring – representing the first time a former head of state faced trial in the United States for human rights violations. It resulted in an historic guilty and unanimous jury verdict against the former president of Bolivia, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada. Stunningly, the judge subsequently overturned the jury verdict, and Beth and Judith are currently working with CCR to appeal. The story of Mamani is an inspiring example of what human rights litigation can achieve, and a demonstration of how, often, we must keep fighting, even after it seems we have won.