Trial to Begin Against Former Bolivian President for Role in 2003 Killings

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What: The former president of Bolivia and his minister of defense will face trial in the U.S. in a civil case alleging that the Bolivian military killed more than 50 of its own citizens during a period of civil unrest in 2003. This is the first time that a former head of state will sit before his accusers in a civil human rights trial in a U.S. court. Both the former president, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, and the former defense minister, José Carlos Sánchez Berzaín, live in the United States.

Who: Nine family members of people killed—plaintiffs in Mamani v. Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín—who are represented by a team of lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights, Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, and the law firms of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP, Schonbrun, Seplow, Harris & Hoffman, LLP, and Akerman LLP. Lawyers from the Center for Law, Justice and Society (Dejusticia) are cooperating attorneys.

Where: U.S. Federal Building and Courthouse
299 East Broward Boulevard #108, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

When: Monday, March 5, 2018, 8:30am

Why: Families members of people killed in Bolivia are suing Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzaín under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), which authorizes suits in U.S. federal court for extrajudicial killings. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants are legally liable for the military use of deadly force against civilians and that, in addition to the deaths, more than 400 unarmed civilians were shot and injured.


The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

Last modified 

March 5, 2018