Former Bolivian dictator Luis García Meza upon his arrival in La Paz after being extradited from Brazil on March 15, 1995
Former Bolivian dictator Luis García Meza, who was serving a 30-year prison sentence for crimes committed after the military coup that brought him to power in 1980, died Sunday at age 88, his lawyer said.
„General Luis García Meza has died (…) because of a cardiac and respiratory arrest,“ jurist Frank Campero told local press.
The military, very delicate health, had suffered three previous heart attacks in the hospital of the Armed Forces, Cossmil, where he spent more than ten years of his sentence of 30 years in prison, said Campero.
With the death of García Meza „we have lost valuable information to clarify crimes against humanity and end impunity and privileges that he himself had,“ said the representative of the Platform of Social Wrestlers Against Impunity, Julio Llanos.
In 13 months of bloodthirsty regime there were about thirty confirmed murders and a hundred disappearances that remain unclear.
On January 15, 1981, in Sopocachi, a neighborhood of La Paz, eight leaders of the Movimiento de la Izquierda Revolucionaria were tortured and killed by a group of paramilitaries. Only Gloria Ardaya was saved, hidden under a bed.
The 13-month government of García Meza was not only characterized by violent repression against leftist opposition, but also by corruption and drug trafficking.
„We regret that JUSTICE has not been done! It went in total impunity,“ says the Association of Relatives of the Detained and Missing and Martyrs for National Liberation (Asofamd) on Facebook.
For Asofamd, García Meza „died protected by the Army, protected and cared for in Cossmil“, the military hospital.
– Letters –
The lawyer revealed that his client left two letters in 2009, one addressed to his family and another to the country, and that even its content was recorded by journalists Carlos Mesa (Bolivian president) and Mario Espinoza.
„The general (García Meza) in 2009 made a documentary for Carlos Mesa and Mario Espinoza, they signed an embargo contract, they promised not to release that video until he dies,“ said Campero.
„In conclusion and in a summary of the entire note that has left the public opinion, it is established that he did not kill, he did not rob his country,“ he said, advancing part of the content.
– Bloodthirsty military –
García Meza led a military coup in 1980, almost in the aftermath of right-wing military regimes that had begun two decades earlier in the region, and he was in power between July 17, 1980 and August 4, 1981.
On the day of the coup, political leaders such as journalist, historian and socialist leader Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz died, whose body was never found.
In April 1993 he was sentenced to 30 years in prison, along with the former Minister of the Interior, Luis Arce Gómez, but he escaped and was captured in Brazil in March 1995 and extradited to Bolivia, where he was admitted to a high security prison.
Along with the dictator (1971-1978) and also president of law (1997-2001), Hugo Banzer, García Meza was considered the most bloodthirsty military dictator of the Bolivian 20th century.
When he had served 24 years in prison in the maximum security prison in Chonchocoro, García Mesa had requested a pardon and a cut of his sentence, which ended in 2025.
Even in April 2015 he offered to reveal the names of prominent businessmen who supported his military coup, for which he was then summoned by the Prosecutor’s Office, although due to procedural errors the confession was not carried out.
For its part, the Italian justice system sentenced eight eight soldiers and civilians from Peru, Boliva, Chile and Uruguay to life imprisonment in January 2017, including García Meza and Arce Gómez, for the disappearance of 40 opponents in the framework of the Condor Plan that the dictatorships of the Southern Cone designed in the 1970s and 1980s to put an end to the opposition of the left.
Known as the „cocaine minister“, Arce Gomez, initially purged in the United States for drug trafficking until 2009, the year he was sent to the Chonchocoro prison in the highlands of La Paz, also sentenced to 30 years, the maximum penalty in Bolivia.