Observing from afar the political events taking place in Bolivia, namely, a series of corruption revelations that reach the highest levels of government, even Evo Morales, it seems these same events have started a slow but fulminating process of the government's deconstruction.
While the government has been experiencing a relatively stable political
period, from the time of its consolidation in power around 2009 up to
the February 21, 2016 referendum on Constitutional reform, we can
observe slowly but surely, the Morales government has come increasingly
The process begins with a series of revelations about corruption in the Indigenous Fund for the Development of Indigenous, Originary and Campesino People (Fondo Indigena para el Desarrollo de Indigenas, Originarios y Campesinos, Fondioc). In the mean time, the fund has been intervened and currently is being wound up, having the charges reached the highest posts in the fund. In the weeks up to the February referendum, more corruption revelations were published. A regime-critic journalist, Carlos Valverde, revealed that President Morales had had a relationship with a business woman, and that the couple even had a son, who passed away. Adding insult to injury, the journalist also revealed irregularities in the adjudication of public projects in favor of the woman's company. This case has been, and still is, a very damaging case for Morales personally. This is an ongoing process, therefore, this post will most likely end in ... to be continued ...
The Fondioc was created in 2010 by President Morales to specifically fund development projects in favor of the indigenous population in rural areas. It was designated 5% from the hydrocarbons tax (i.e. natural gas sales tax).
How has this happened?
November 11, 2013
The newspaper Pagina Siete starts a series of revealing reports about alleged corruption in the Indigenous Fund, known in Bolivia as Fondioc. Over the course of a month, the allegations revolved around some projects not having been executed, which pointed to the waste of public money.
On December 11, 2013, as a result of these revelations, Morales was already in an uncomfortable place because he had been pointing to the indigenous values of not stealing, not lying, and not being lazy (in Aymara, ama sua, ama qhuella, ama llulla) as being the culture of the MAS. Morales then order the Comptroller to start an investigation of the Fondioc.
End of 2014
The Office of the Comptroller determined several irregularities, which were all listed in its report. Above all, the auditors found ghost projects, underfunded projects, unfinished projects and other already finished projects. All in all, the auditors saw a total damage to the Bolivian state in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars.
The case was transferred to the office of the Attorney General, who then started an official investigation. The result was cases filed against some 250 people directly involved in the individual cases.
The Fondioc has been in the news almost permanently. It has evolved into a conflict between some groups and the government because the government does not want to implicate the former Rural Development and Lands Minister, Nemesia Achacollo. The other groups, mostly in favor of many officials already in prison, have been demanding Achacollo take responsibility for what happened in Fondioc.
As the Fondioc case was evolving, other revelations hit the government as well.
On February 3, 2016, Carlos Valverde accuses the government of drug trafficking in favor of Gabriela Zapata (Morales ex-girlfriend) and a Chinese company, CAMC. This company, it was reported, benefited with the signing of some 7 publicly funded projects with a value of over 500 million dollars.
The journalist also reveals that Zapata was Morales' lover and that they had a child.
On February 5, 2016, Evo Morales accepted he had had an affair with Zapata and that out of that relationship a child was born. At the same time, he said the son had died and as a result they had grown apart.
On February 12, 2016, the Fides News Agency, reported the Vicepresident, Alvaro Garcia, did not have an academic title, whereas he had given them impression, in various occasions and had stated in some instances, he did have a degree. Days later other news outlets revealed he had been lecturing in the La Paz University and even had been the director of the Sociology Department.
On February 17, six people died as a result of a demonstration turning violent against the El Alto government building. Especially, damaging for the MAS was the fact that several MAS leaders and former candidates had been agitating the mood, which resulted on braking of doors, the occupation of the first floor and the installing of fires within the offices.
As we stand, there are more damaging revelations coming out.
On Friday 26, 2016, Gabriela Zapata was arrested with a direct order from the Ministry of the Interior, most likely from Minister Carlos Romero.
It turned out this order was not all that legal because the Attorney General's office, the instance in charge of issuing aprehension orders, had not issued any against Zapata.
However, on Saturday 27, the charges of illicit enrichment (and others) were formally brought against Zapata. It was then when the aprehension papers were issued.
At the same time, Zapata had to be discretely delivered to the AG's aprehension facilities, but she was forced to face the news crews and the cameras because the door did not open soon enough.
On Sunday 28, 2016, the Zapata's aunt makes more revelations. She implies Zapata is being silenced by the government. She also reveals the son did not pass away, but is alive and living in La Paz.
As you can see, the drama continues ...
March 1, 2016
The National Coordinating (Organization) for Change (Coordinadora Nacional para el Cambio, Conalcam), the umbrella organization grouping all social organizations supporting Morales' Process of Change, but at the same time functioning as a type social control, has expressed its support for the referendum's results.
After having met with President Morales, the leaders of Conalcam, made declarations in favor of respecting the decision taking by the Bolivian people in the February 2016 referendum. Evo Morales and Alvaro Garcia will not be the MAS candidates for the general elections in 2019.
1. The government has been put under pressure by the corruption scandal in the Fondioc.
This case, is specially damaging, because it contradicts directly Morales' claim the indigenous culture is not like 'other' cultures. Which ones are these, is not defined. Morales has been pointing to the already mentioned Aymara principles of ama sua, ama qhuella, ama llulla.
The fact that the corruption happened in the Indigenous Fund, which was created for the Indigenous people and was administered by Indigenous people, has negatively affected the credibility of the government.
The implication would be that the indigenous culture is not much different from 'other' cultures.
2. Evo Morales has been, for the first time under his presidency, under pressure as well.
It is much less, the fact that he had had relations with a woman. That much, I would like to guess, his supporters were willing to look over. However, the fact that his government had been giving unfair advantage to the woman's company when it came to adjudicate publicly funded projects was what affected support for Morales.
The fact that even Morales himself could be acting corrupt is very disenchanting for people and undermines the support for the MAS and Morales.
3. Furthermore, if things keep the way they are going and Zapata starts to reveal what she knows, it could be affecting not only the government, but above all, the character of Morales.
If it turns out the son is still alive, it would release a very ominous and dark shadow over the person, Evo Morales. Granted he can say, I was lied to, who can say who is telling the truth? I would come to his word against her word.
4. The support for his candidacy in 2019 is seriously diminishing. The fact that Conalcam has come out so early with the decision not to have Morales as candidate for 2019 is really something to pay attention to. This points to a significant decrease in the support for Morales' candidacy. Later, it will be very difficult for him to want to change his mind.
As I said it earlier, this post is bound to be continued...
For those of you who are really interested and can read Spanish, in this link you will find a detailed chronology of the Evo-Gabriela case. As usual, thanks to our friends from Pagina Siete.