Bolivian church becomes makeshift morgue

Covered bodies lie on a bench in St Francis Church in El Alto, Bolivia (CNS/Marcelo Perez del Carpio)

A church on the outskirts of Bolivia’s capital city became an improvised morgue this week, following another deadly day of protests in the South American country. Source: CNS.

Fr Gechi Revelin of St. Francis Parish in El Alto said protesters started to bring corpses into his small church late on Tuesday following intense clashes between Bolivia’s military and supporters of former President Evo Morales at a nearby petrol depot.

Protesters said they brought the corpses to the church in an effort to stop government officials and the military from getting hold of the bodies and “hiding the truth” about what happened to those killed.

Seven bodies were brought to the church and were laid down on its pews, where they were covered with flags and blankets. The demonstrators then had Bolivian forensic scientists conduct autopsies on site.

“We don’t trust the government,” said Sandro Tenorio, an indigenous resident of El Alto whose 23-year-old brother was killed in the protest. Tenorio said his brother, Juan Jose, was shot as he tried to rescue people who were injured during the clashes.

“We gathered the bodies and brought them here, to stop soldiers from dragging them into their base,” Mr Tenorio said. “We want a transparent investigation.”

The protesters were keeping petrol trucks from distributing fuel to El Alto and the nearby capital city of La Paz as part of a campaign to starve both cities of fuel and force the resignation of Interim President Jeanine Anez. But the military managed to break up the road block and send fuel trucks to La Paz.

Bolivia’s defence minister said soldiers did not fire “a single bullet” against protesters, He said the country was facing threats from “terrorist groups” that tried to use dynamite to break into the petrol plant.

Fr Revelin said the situation in his parish was “very tense,” with streets that remain empty most of the day and have been blocked by local residents with burning tires and barbed wire.


Church becomes improvised morgue as Bolivian violence continues (CNS)

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