There is a demonstration on the other side of La Paz. People dressed in black gather in front of the university: students, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, wives and children of those who have died at Teoponte. They move in a procession toward the Miraflores district, where the General Staff Office is. They pass through the narrow streets of the old town, which rise steeply or drop precipitously. In all of La Paz there is not one level street. Walking around is exhausting.

People know what happened in Teoponte and what sort of procession they are in. They stop and remove their caps, and the God-fearing Indians kneel on the sidewalks. Maria Cecilia holds the arm of Maria Luisa, who lost three sons on one day. I walk at the end of the procession, because I want to see what will happen.

The sentries at the General Staff Office admit us without a word, because the people in black have been coming there every day for a month, and there is a standing order to admit them. We enter a room in the main building where, for a month, the same performance has taken place every day. The families sit on benches, and the commander of the army enters to hear their appeal. They want the army to turn over the bodies of the fallen. The commander of the army answers that this is impossible for security reasons. Of course there are no security reasons. The commander maintains that all the partisans died in battle. In fact they were shot in the back of the head as soon as they surrendered. The bodies constitute evidence of a crime, and that is not what the army wants.


What Remains
Bolivia, 1990