Sebastián Moro lived in La Paz. The Sunday of the coup against Evo Morales he was found unconscious, he was diagnosed with a stroke and died days later. His body had bruises, scratches and signs of violence. Hours earlier he had denounced the hunt that the Bolivian fascist hordes were implementing.
“There were acts of vandalism and attacks on officials, journalists and militants of MAS in different parts of the country. Among those events, the governor of Oruro suffered the burning of his home, workers of the Bolivia TV channel and Radio Patria Nueva were kidnapped and deprived of their right to work by shock mobs, and the headquarters of the Peasant Confederation (CSUTCB) was invaded and attacked.” Thus concluded an article on the Bolivian crisis sent from La Paz to the newspaper Página / 12 on November 9 for the next day’s edition, when Evo Morales was overthrown. So these were the last words written by Sebastián Moro. Because that Sunday he was already dying in a clinic in La Paz. His agony lasted for six days.
The dry and impersonal record of the obituaries will say that he was from Mendoza, 40 years old. That he had settled in Bolivia since February 2018. That there he was editor of the weekly Prensa Rural, the organ of the CSUTCB. That at the same time he collaborated with several media outlets in Argentina. He covered, for Pagina / 12, the development of the plot against the constitutional Bolivian government. And that he died following a stroke. But that will not be enough to reflect his existence. Nor his end.
In the line of fire
On October 22, I heard his voice in a WhatsApp audio: “Everything here is confusing; fake news increases to create panic in the population.”
Barely 48 hours had elapsed since the elections. The opponent Carlos Mesa – who lost by ten points with almost 96% of the votes already scrutinized – described the count as “fraud.” The OAS expressed its “deep concern” in a statement. The plot was already underway. “We will see what the next hours will hold for us. The thing is ugly,” was Sebastian’s take. His voice was tired.
I have met few people as generous as him. It was our common friend Gloria Beretervide who connected us at the beginning of the year, since I needed – for reasons that are irrelevant – someone to solve a personal problem: a witness to a document in the Bolivian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And he was kind enough to do it. This procedure resulted in a bureaucratic odyssey with Kafkaesque trim whose absurd alternatives made us oscillate between perplexity and laughter. That’s how we became friends.
In the midst of this almost insignificant anecdote I understood that I was in the presence of an accomplished journalist. Faced with a guy committed to the violent trade of reflecting reality. Proof of this was his colossal work in Mendoza on trials for crimes against humanity, which aired on National Radio, among other oral and graphic media both local and national. These recording are now part of his legacy. Historical and memorial material for future generations. His saga in the Andean country was no less. Assimilated there to the news structure of the CSUTCB, he made the Rural Press (Prensa Rural) – which had a very modest visibility upon arrival – a key means of the process of change. Among many other reasons, for having broken the informative blockade of the hegemonic press. At the same time, he was producing a program on Radio Comunidad – the station of the CSUTCB – where he also left his mark. And his coverage for Pagina / 12 revealed him as someone reporting from the front lines of fire.
“Everything is getting worse here,” he said in a telephone conversation we had during the evening of November 6. That Wednesday he had written: “The civic Camacho continues skidding around the political scene as if it were a television stage.” And on the phone, he insisted: “The situation is getting worse.”
It was the last time I heard his voice.
In the first days of December, the Argentine Delegation in Solidarity with Bolivia disseminated its report based on testimonies collected there. And on the attacks on the press, it stated: “The case of the Argentine journalist Sebastián Moro is especially serious for this delegation.”
At this point it is necessary to return to November 9.
The fascist hordes were already hunting, just as Sebastian said in the written article sent that same Saturday to Buenos Aires.
Everything indicates that this text was prior to an image that knew how to symbolize such a scenario: that of the director of Rural Press, José Aramayo, tied to a tree by a “civic” mob. This “postcard” went around the world. It is known that at that time Sebastian had tried to enter the newspaper, but the mob prevented him.
After nightfall – about 9 pm – he spoke with his family on the phone. From that moment on, nothing was heard from him, until the next morning, when he was found unconscious in his apartment, on Pérez de Holguín street, in the Sopocachi neighborhood.
When his sister, Penelope, arrived in La Paz the next day, Sebastian was already admitted to the Rengel Clinic. The diagnosis: “Ischemic stroke”, a description of his condition that did not include bruises, scoriations and scratches (properly photographed). Such injuries were then subjected to a forensic analysis, resulting in the certainty of an assault. He never regained consciousness and breathed his last breath on Saturday 16.
But where and when was he attacked? In the street or in his home? For now, everything seemed to be in order, although a vest that identified him as a journalist, the recorder and the notebook were missing; instead his phone was safe, but with one detail: the audios he exchanged with Aramayo in the previous days (confirmed by him) had been erased.
With the sponsorship of lawyer Rodolfo Yanzón, Sebastián’s family made the corresponding presentation before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) for this death to be investigated. And another before the Rapporteurship for Press Freedom of the same organization, since the context of the act is a persecution of journalists.
Sebastián Moro deserves to be remembered for his life. Also for having lost his life in the exercise of his profession.
Translated by JRE/EF