A journalist and a deputy led the digital debate on the Las Londras case
by Bolivia Verifica | Bolívia
Por Isabel Mercado
Updated 28 de March, 2022 at 3:13 pm
According to the analysis of the debate on social networks carried out by Bolivia Verifica, attention on the issue was concentrated in the media, especially Santa Cruz. The journalist Tuffí Aré and the deputy for Creemos, Ma. René Alvarez were the main influencers in the debate
To 160 kilometers from Santa Cruz, in the municipality Ascención de Guarayos, the property Las Londras is located.
On those grounds, of approximately 8.312 Hectares, the 28 October 2021 a violent incident occurred, in which a group of 17 people, composed of journalists, civilians and police, were ambushed, kidnapped and tortured for more than six hours, by a group of armed hooded men, who met them during a visit to the place.
This visit was the product of a conflict that had been taking place in the area., product of the claim of intercultural (who presented themselves as peasants) and entrepreneurs for the use and ownership of Las Londras and surrounding areas.
The dispute was being settled by INRA, that was carrying out the process of sanitation of these lands; that is, they could not be owned by either the businessmen or the colonizers., and that their occupation – both by one side and by the other – constituted an subjugation.
To this is added that this territory is part of the Guarayos forest reserve, so all types of human settlement or agricultural use are strictly prohibited; I mean, it is impossible for INRA to have awarded either of the two disputed groups, proprietary rights.
In this context, days before the violent events, the businessmen denounced that the intercultural had had a rapprochement with the INRA and that before the possibility that this institution declares the disputed land as fiscal lands, it had proceeded to the subjugation and then to the aggressions to the group of visitors, as a form of intimidation.
Post-kidnapping, images were known in which the director of the INRA of the Santa Cruz department was seen, Adalberto Rojas, arrive at Las Londras and be received by those who days before had starred in the aggressions, amid hugs and applause. Rojas denied knowing the overwhelmers.
To date, four months after the events and after the investigations have determined names and surnames of the protagonists of the crimes, and arrest warrants have been issued against them, only two people have been arrested.
A week ago, the Mixed Civil and Commercial Public Judge of Guarayos, Roberto Cruz Hurtado, ordered six-month pre-trial detention in Okinawa Prison, by Paulino Camacho, second detainee in the Las Londras case; nevertheless, withdrew the crime of attempted murder despite the existence of images where the defendant is seen threatening with a weapon.
The first detainee was Heber Sixto Canaza, accused of leading the armed group that kidnapped the entourage. Canaza has been in pre-trial detention for six months since the past 25 Of November.
The entities of the press repeatedly protested asking for speed in the investigation and sanction of these facts that threaten the security of people and freedom of expression. After the possibility of the first detainee and leader of the kidnapping was known, Heber Canaza request his release, journalists denounced the authorities’ bias with the kidnappers.
Debate on social networks
Facebook and the media
According to the Newswhip tool, from the 29 October 2021 (date on which the events occurred) to the 25 of January of 2022, media shared 290 Facebook post about the Las Londras case, reporting on the events and main repercussions of the case.
A total of 95, 774 shared from these posts; 211,515 likes and 105,521 signs of discontent from internet users of these media.
The newspaper El Deber was the media that shared the most content on the subject on Facebook, followed by the Unitel network.
The most commented and shared tweets
Various social actors, politicians and the press paid attention to the issue and set a trend of opinion on it.
The most shared and commented tweet, was that of the journalist Tuffí Aré (56.000 Followers) in which he maintains that “the Prosecutor’s Office charged 13 young people arrested for violence in Plan Tres Mil and ask for preventive detention for six months, rigor that contrasts with the inaction to disrupt the armed group and apprehend those involved in kidnapping and torture in Las Londras”.
Three of the four tweets about the case from the 28 October 2021 correspond to Tuffí Aré. The third with the most traffic is one of former President Carlos Mesa (660,930 Followers), in which he points out that the police send troops to “protect” the march of the MAS, while criminals in Las Londras take hostages and harass officers. “The police institution, for the MAS, it only serves to repress opponents and escort Masistas, not to serve the citizens”, holds in the post it generated 166 shared and high controversy, especially that accounts related to the MAS.
It is worth noting the little activity generated on the subject of other political and social actors. With the exception of the Minister of Government, Eduardo Del Castillo, who published a tweet to announce that the situation in Las Londras was being controlled and investigations would proceed. There were no prominent pronouncements from any mas political authority.
The governor of Santa Cruz also recorded activity on Twitter, especially during the moments after the kidnapping.
However, as noted in this heat map of Twitter activity on the subject, the main actors were the news media.
It highlights the fact that the 41% of the coverage was carried out in Santa Cruz, venue of the events. 25% corresponded to La Paz and 22% of interest in the subject was generated in Cochabamba.
Likewise, highlights the activity on Twitter of the deputy María René Alvarez, representative of the Chiquitana region by Creemos, who became one of the main voices of denunciation.
Four months after these events that concern press workers, there has been little interest on the part of the justice system and the authorities in the issue.
Although two detainees are registered, these have not been prosecuted or sanctioned for the causes that are demanded, and a cloak of indifference hangs over the case, despite the attacks and threats suffered by journalists who came to cover this subjugation.
The issue of land as well as the partiality of authorities with intercultural groups is evident, as well as the little protection and guarantees that are granted in Bolivia to the work of the press.
* The Digital Democracy Room is a project of FGV DAPP in Brazil in partnership with Animal Político, Bolivia Verifica, Chequeado, Confidencial, Espacio Público, Linterna Verde and Ojo Público. It’s goal is to monitor and analyze the digital conversations regarding the electoral context.
The analysis is available the website of Bolivia Verifica here.