Bolivia news roundup
bolivia | by Miguel Centellas | 03 Mar, 2004 at 12:34 PM | comments (0) | trackback (0)

The following is a roundup of recent Bolivian news.

The Bolivian government, in conjunction w/ Spanish cooperation, launched a campaign to promote traditional indigenous medicine. The pilot project's a new hospital in the altiplano village of Curva that uses a 50/50 mix of Western science & traditional medicine. Along w/ the "modern" medical staff, the new medical center counts w/ 15 traditional kallawayas.

The US State Department declared the Chapare effectively out of the coca-cocaine circuit. The news, however, is tempered w/ a report that, while coca production was reduced 15% in the Chapare, there was an increase of 26% in coca production in the Yungas (a net gain of 17%). The American report, however, also declared it finds no evidence of high-level government complicity in the coca-cocaine trade. Evo Morales, leader of the cocaleros also announced possible manifestaciones if the government didn't rescind its coca eradication policy.

Various Santa Cruz business groups announced their decision to pay neither the new patrimony tax, nor the tax on bank transactions. Mesa proposed both measures as part of his government's economic plan to reduce the crushing fiscal deficit. The cruceño business sector also formally withdrew from the national Confederación de Empresas Privadas de Bolivia (CEPB). The tax package is still under discussion in parliament.

Mesa's anti-corruption Czar is under fire, who's been long-criticized for lack of results — no major arrests or denunciations have taken place since Guadalupe Cajías assumed the post in October. Bolivia's Comptroller General, Verónica Bodoni, declared that only 10 of Mesa's 21 ministers & special presidential delegates (including Mesa & Cajías) had updated their declarations of private goods & salaries since October, as required by law.

The Friday car bombing death of a Santa Cruz district attorney (Mónica Von Borries) was denounced as an "attempt on Bolivia's democracy" by two political parties. An NFR spokesman made comparison's to Colombia's "narcoterrorists" and blamed government officials for not doing enough to prevent such attacks. A MAS spokesman, meanwhile, blamed the attack on right-wing extremists. Law enforcement officials (assisted by the FBI) already arrested the culprit, who implicated Marco Marino Diodato — head of the mafia in Bolivia & connected to narcotrafficking, who recently escaped from custody.

An ex-MRTA militant, jailed for his role in the kidnapping of Samuel Doria Medina (Bolivia's richest man), was paroled this week after 10 years in prison. Martín Serna Ponce will now study law at Universidad Mayor de San Andrés in La Paz.

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