This unbelievable news appeared in El Deber:
They accuse Bolivia of “abduction of State” by American prisoner
Defenders and relatives of American Jacob Ostreicher, imprisoned in Bolivia without charge from a year ago, today accused the Government of Evo Morales’ “abduction of State” and condemned the passivity of the USA on the case.
The wife and one of the five sons of Ostreicher, which last April launched a hunger strike to protest his incarceration at the prison of Palmasola (Santa Cruz), denounced his situation at a hearing before the Subcommittee on human rights of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the lower House of the USA.
“This is a case of abduction of State towards a reward,” said at the hearing Steve Moore, a special intelligence agent of the Federal Bureau of investigations (FBI) that now works to help solve cases of Americans “unjustly detained” abroad.
According to Moore, “the successful entrepreneur Ostreicher, who grew more rice on private facilities in the Santa Cruz region than what the Bolivian Government could manage throughout the country was about to put in ridicule the Morales Government, and that threat had to be removed.”
Ostreicher, who arrived in Bolivia in 2008, spent 26 million dollars in rice production, which led him to produce nearly 23 million kilograms of cereal, explained at the hearing his wife, Miriam Ungar.
In 2011, the Andean country Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation “for alleged laundering of illicit profits”, because two Brazilians from whom, Ostreicher’s Bolivian administrator, Viviana Rodriguez bought real state, [both Ostreicher and Rodriguez] were allegedly linked to drug trafficking.
One of the Brazilians ran away and the other was deported for carrying false documents, while Ostreicher and his administrator are imprisoned since then without having an official accusations against them, something very common in Bolivia, where 70 per cent of those imprisoned have no condemnation. “What they did was play six degrees of separation with him.” “Was that someone whom coincidentally knew, trafficked drugs,” said Moore.
Hearings scheduled for the case in the last year have been cancelled and postponed constantly, according to the former agent, for the only reason that “there is no evidence.” “There is not even evidence of crime being committed, and even less in a relationship with an American citizen”, said.
Moore, who spoke Tuesday by telephone with Ostreicher, assured that the prisoner has heard in prison that the ground on which he produced rice has been nationalized and converted into cultivation of coca, “a much more lucrative matter”.
The agent criticized also the management of the case in the United States Department of State, which “has tools to deal with this”, but instead of using them is “almost wining at the Bolivia Government, saying: ‘Let’s pretend to oppose this, but then let’s dance in its festivals'”.
The wife of Ostreicher further alleged that the Embassy of United States in La Paz has never concluded a meeting with the reason explicit talk about her husband’s case.
Republican Congressman Christopher Smith, who chairs the Subcommittee, said that he asked the Secretary of State for Latin America, Roberta Jacobson, to speak on the issue during the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) which was closed on Tuesday in Cochabamba (Bolivia), “but she did not”.
“how is that, in a country where they occur such abuses of human rights, the State Department believes that its role is to ‘see’ what happens?”, asked Smith.
The wife of Ostreicher, who said that she can not return to Bolivia because the Prosecutor’s Office has filed charges of “obstruction of Justice” against her for “having granted an interview to CNN”, described her “agony” before the deteriorated state of health of her husband.
“Does our Government want an innocent American citizen to walk out this prison, or prefer to drag his body outside?”, raised Ungar.
“I pray this Government to intercede for my father”, said for her part Chaya Gitty Weinberger, daughter of Ostreicher, who has scheduled a new hearing for June 11.
Information provided in this article merits both governments to do their job. Both the USA and Bolivia government should protect their citizens and make sure they are granted a fair trial. It is inconceivable that after a year no formal accusation has been made; there is the need to prove that both Jacob Ostreicher and Viviana Rodriguez are guilty or not; and prove their guilt or innocence in an expedite manner. As this kind of issues, and the way they are handled scare away other entrepreneurs who are willing to come to Bolivia and produce. It needs to be clarified soon!