Bolivian Armed Forces Fight Against Human Trafficking

Bolivian Armed Forces Fight Against Human Trafficking

By Yolima Dussán/Diálogo
November 02, 2020

Bolivian security forces rescued 68 Haitian nationals, including women and children, from organized crime, in four operations that concluded on September 5, 2020, in the city of Cochabamba, Bolivian Interior Minister Arturo Murillo told the press.

“We [discovered] and are tracking a gang that perpetrates human trafficking,” Murillo said. “It is in our interest to take care of children, to take care of women, to watch out for human trafficking, to fight against narcotrafficking and against pedophilia.”

Marcel Rivas, head of Bolivia’s General Directorate of Migration (DIGEMIG, in Spanish), reported on the state of the rescued Haitians via the Ministry of Interior’s website on September 5. “The women have suffered serious abuse, with signs of violence. None of the children were with their real parents. All were supposedly guardians or distant relatives. When we cross-checked, their last names did not match.”

According to DIGEMIG, illegal organizations deceive people and induce them to pay $3,000 to take them to Chile. The journey begins in Brazil, crosses Bolivia, and finally reaches Chile.

Rivas said that this crime goes beyond human trafficking. “These citizens are not only used for sexual exploitation but also, unfortunately, for organ trafficking and for controlled substance trafficking,” he said.

There is concern in Chile about the increase in Haitian nationals arriving in the country after crossing Brazil and Bolivia. Chile’s senate is debating a new migration bill to modify the transit and legal stay policy in the country, the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio reported on September 30.

For its part, the Bolivian government continues to coordinate operations with Brazil and Chile to curb human trafficking. “We contacted Chile’s Investigations Police and the Brazilian Federal Police, in addition to [having] conversations with the governments,” Rivas told BBC Mundo on September 7.

Without lowering its guard, DIGEMIG continues to carry out operations in the country, supported by military and police forces, which are complemented by other actions. Since July 30, Bolivia’s Plurinational Council against Human Trafficking and Smuggling decided to join the Blue Heart campaign, an initiative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The goal is to raise awareness in the community to fight against human trafficking and its impact on society.

“To this date, the Blue Heart campaign has the participation of 28 countries, the private sector, civil society organizations, and thousands of people around the world,” UNODC indicated during the announcement of Bolivia’s participation.

According to the International Labour Organization, a United Nations agency, the business of human trafficking worldwide generates an estimated $150 million in profit for transnational crime annually, based on figures updated on February 2, 2020, by Forbes magazine, which reports that 25 million people are victims of this crime.