September 06, 2006

What is the Bolivian Government Thinking?

MABB © ®

The former General Manager of the Bolivian Central Bank, Marcela Nogales, has been jailed without being convicted under the lable "preventive detention". The argument is that she cannot flee out of the country if she is in jail. Is she a live example of a witch-hunt going on in Bolivia, so the government can vacate important public offices and replace the officials with its own cronies? An article in the Herald Tribune asks just that:

Prosecutors contend Nogales abused her office by releasing money that facilitated a military crackdown whose repercussions — some 60 people shot to death — prompted a president to flee into exile.
But to many Bolivians, the "preventative detention" of this 47-year-old career woman and mother of two preadolescents is a political vendetta of the highest order.
They fear that President Evo Morales' government, in its zeal to redress historic injustices in favor of the indigenous poor majority, is callously trampling on civil liberties, using the courts to silence opponents and move loyalists into key state agencies.
Targeted are high-ranking figures from the political class that Morales' populist revolution swept from power in December elections. Many of them have led institutions such as the central bank that have proven difficult to purge.
To date, the Morales team has announced plans to prosecute some 150 people who held high-level jobs in previous governments — including five ex-presidents — for crimes ranging from "genocide" to "espionage" and "destruction or deterioration of state assets."

According to AP there is not enough evidence to support the detention on Nogales' case:

Yet the government has provided scant evidence to back the accusations, relying instead on news conferences and public harangues. In the Nogales case, an ambiguous video of people removing stacks of money from a bank vault was leaked to TV networks in June and broadcast widely.
Attempts by The Associated Press to obtain legal documents in the most prominent cases were frustrated by uncooperative prosecutors and court officials, even though Bolivian law says the documents are, with few exceptions, public record.

Even scholars are concerned about it:

"Everyone feels frightened and intimidated," professor Morales, who is unrelated to the president, said in an interview. "All the time there are unfounded accusations." Prosecutors have twice interrogated him for eight hours but filed no charges. He fears Nogales is being pressured into providing damning but false evidence against her former superiors.

and not to mention jurists:

Several leading Bolivian jurists, including Rodriguez, accuse Gareca of being a tool of Evo Morales, and thwarting justice to make it appear as if he's moving decisively against corruption, long a major problem in South America's poorest nation.

The question is, is the government of Evo Morales conducting a witch-hunt with the goal of vacating positions for its own people?


On the topic of the Constitutional Assembly, I have read reports from people who are present in the sessions in Sucre, that the leaders of MAS, Evo Morales and Alvaro Garcia, have ordered the MAS faction to force the will of the majority. Garcia, arguing that the MAS has had to wait almost 20 years and the indigenous population even more, to rule, it was time for the majority to start making the decisions. With that in mind, the assembly members from MAS forced the passing of the internal regulations code without the consent of the opposition.


As a result of that today Friday there will be a general strike in the departments of the so called, "half moon" region, that is, Beni, Pando, Santa Cruz and Tarija. These are the same states that voted "yes" in the autonomic referendum last December. The attitude of the government and its representation in the assembly, MAS, has resulted on the further polarization (radicalization) of the situation. To the point that there is a serious possibility of some kind of physical confrontation between people from the two factions. Throughout the day there will be controls posted in street corners to make sure the strike is followed (in Santa Cruz). At the same time, opponents (sympathisers of MAS) and some people from La Paz who will travel to Santa Cruz, will also come out on the streets to make sure that "there are no abuses". However, just to have these two groups out on the streets, even if they say they just want to look out, is dangerous enough.

It seems to me that the government is not playing with the right cards. It is only making the opposition to take more radical positions.

In addition, find below some news links, where you'll find the link to the article disscussed above.

AP Enterprise: Evidence scant in high-profile Bolivia prosecutions
International Herald Tribune - France
LA PAZ, Bolivia For six weeks, Marcela Nogales has been jailed without charge for letting a besieged government make emergency withdrawals from Bolivia's ...
See all stories on this topic

Bolivia needs $1 billion to hike gas supply to Argentina:minister
Platts (subscription) - USA
Rio de Janeiro (Platts)--5Sep2006 Bolivia needs $1 billion in new investments to boost gas production so that it can supply neighboring Argentina with up to ...

Bolivia: Provinces Call For Strike
Stratfor - USA
... convened to redraft the constitution. These regions, the wealthiest of Bolivia, are in favor of autonomy, which is opposed by Morales.

Bolivia and Transnats Parley Oil
Prensa Latina - Havana,Cuba
La Paz, Sep 5 (Prensa Latina) The Bolivian government is opening Tuesday negotiations with oil companies operating in the nation to sign new deals in line with ...

Bolivia's four provinces to stage anti-president strike
People's Daily Online - Beijing,China
Four of Bolivia's nine provinces on Tuesday announced a regional strike this week against President Evo Morales over his attempt to take control of a special ...
See all stories on this topic

Georgia tops business reform list
BBC News - UK
... its Doing Business report found. But Bolivia, Venezuela and Zimbabwe have all regressed, it concluded. In its fourth annual report ...

Bolivia Rejects Opposition Strike
Prensa Latina - Havana,Cuba
La Paz, Sep 5 (Prensa Latina) The Bolivian government rejected on Monday a general strike by the opposition that was announced in four regions, the leadership ...
See all stories on this topic

A New Constitution for Bolivia: the History and Structure of the ...
Upside Down World - Hartwick,NY,USA
... Likewise, the current demand for a constitutional assembly in Bolivia is not a recent development. Yet, unlike in Peru and Venezuela ...

Bolivia 2006 - Start of the Process DVD
Socialistworker.co.uk - London,UK
For the mainstream media the political upheavals in Bolivia since the turn of the century culminated in the election of radical president Evo Morales in ...


Bolivia negotiates oil nationalization
AP via Yahoo! News
Tue, 05 Sep 2006 7:11 PM PDT
The nationalization of Bolivia's hydrocarbons industry appeared to move forward Tuesday as the government began long-awaited contract negotiations with foreign petroleum companies, and collected $32.3 million in new higher gas royalties.

Bolivia goes after high-powered figures
AP via Yahoo! News
Tue, 05 Sep 2006 12:05 PM PDT
For six weeks, Marcela Nogales has been jailed without charge for letting a besieged government make emergency withdrawals from Bolivia's central bank in October 2003 when she was its general manager.

(AFX UK Focus) 2006-09-06 06:34 GMT: Bolivia starts oil sector nationalization talks with Total
Interactive Investor
Tue, 05 Sep 2006 10:56 PM PDT
LA PAZ, Bolivia (AFX) - The nationalization of Bolivia's hydrocarbons industry appeared to move forward Tuesday as the government began long-awaited contract negotiations with foreign petroleum companies, and collected 32.3 mln usd in new higher gas royalties.

Bolivia Negotiates Oil Nationalization
WJLA-TV Washington D.C.
Tue, 05 Sep 2006 8:34 PM PDT
LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) - The nationalization of Bolivia's hydrocarbons industry appeared to move forward Tuesday as the government began long-awaited contract negotiations with foreign petroleum companies, and collected $32.3 million in new higher gas royalties.Representatives from the French company Total SA met with Hydrocarbons Ministry officials on Tuesday in La Paz to draw up a new contract

The World Bank views Venezuela and Bolivia as a stumbling block
El Universal
Tue, 05 Sep 2006 3:13 PM PDT
Venezuela and Bolivia have resisted to the hemispheric trend towards better conditions for business development, and tried instead to put stumbling blocs to the capital intended to create jobs.

Bolivia 2006 - Start of the Process DVD
Socialist Worker
Tue, 05 Sep 2006 12:06 PM PDT
For the mainstream media the political upheavals in Bolivia since the turn of the century culminated in the election of radical president Evo Morales in December last year.

Bolivia starts oil sector nationalization talks with Total
Sharewatch
Tue, 05 Sep 2006 10:29 PM PDT
Representatives from the French company Total SA met with Hydrocarbons Ministry officials on Tuesday in La Paz to draw up a new contract ceding a majority share of their Bolivian operations to the government, as required by President Evo Morales\' May 1 nationalization decree.
Prosecutors Put Pressure on Govt Over Petrobras, YPFB Talks
Rigzone
Tue, 05 Sep 2006 1:06 PM PDT
Federal prosecutors in Brazil will follow talks between federal energy company Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) and Bolivian authorities over the price of natural gas exports and compensatory measures for the expropriation of its hydrocarbons assets in Bolivia.

2 comments:

mcentellas said...

I have an uncle at the Central Bank. He emailed me a few weeks ago about potential problems, worried that Evo was going to do to the bank what he did to YPFB (sack all the long-term technocrats and replace them w/ personal lackies). Not sure if this is part of that kind of move or not, but I've always thought the Central Bank the only professionally-functioning institution in the country.

MB said...

This has been going on for quite some time now. So much, that the former paceno elites are migrating either Santa Cruz or to other countries, even more now. I know for a fact that some former classmates of mine have moved to Santa Cruz taking all their posessions. Of course, they are just the former inept neoliberal colonialist oppressors, who wants them now. It is somewhat alarming.