September 23, 2008
Bolivian troops shoot pastor
The country is reeling from live footage of his death at the Pando airport.
Bolivian television stations are repeatedly playing a clip of a pastor being shot on September 12 by the country's military in the capital of Pando.
In the video (warning: very disturbing - it's 3 minutes of people being shot), it's unclear what is going on. A soldier is shouting into a crowd of civilians, women begin screaming, and then the shooting starts. Some soldiers fired into the air, but some shoot into the crowd. Several people fall to the ground. Some don't get up.
Christian World News (a Christian Broadcasting Network affiliate) reports that soldiers were re-taking the airport from a group of civilians in the terminal. EntreChristianios says evangelical pastor Luis Antonio Rivero Shiguekuni was one of those protesting the presence of troops in their city; CWN describes him as "a visiting Christian evangelist."
After most of the shooting ends, the cameraman focuses on Rivero, who seems to have been shot to death. Two men hold him in a sitting position. He is unresponsive. The clip cuts out as a jeep pulls up beside them.
Rivero's brother has appeared on television to explain the incident and demand justice. He praised the local media, saying they were the reason he knows as much as he does about this murder. A partially translated transcript by CT senior writer Deann Alford reads:
It took 20 hours to return the body of our brother. Now we want justice to be done. We are not political, militant people. Politics doesn't interest us. What we went is that the manner be clarified how our brother was murdered.
We received his body?.He was shot at 6:30 p.m., and the coroner said 8 hours later he was shot with the second bullet. [Rivero] lived 4 more hours after that. What happened to the body of my brother during this time? Why was there a 16-hour delay before the military returned his body?
We don't know why or the reason for the treatment/behavior of the military toward my brother. He was an evangelical pastor, a man of peace.
The only thing we want is justice.
Pando's governor, Leopoldo Fernandez, has been accused of overseeing the shootings, according to the The New York Times, and has been arrested by Pando's army. The Wall Street Journal says he "is being investigated on genocide accusations."
We will continue to update this story as new information comes in.