Eduardo Quintela writes for El Dia:
Grows the smuggling on the border of Desaguadero
Soy derivatives ‘escape’ to Peru
Special report. El Dia notes the increase in petty-smuggling with little control. The ton is worth $161 in Peru
Monday, June 25, 2012
It only took a couple of hours so that hundreds of quintals of soybean cake coming from Santa Cruz, were illegally crossing the border into Peru, formerly called ant-smuggling, it has grown so much in the town of Desaguadero that has been transformed into a massive smuggling.
This illegal activity has transformed the border in a huge theater. Visitors and occasional travelers, pass through the so-called “new bridge”, where there is a real control but with flaws, both customs and migration control. We can see a second bridge called “International” 150 metres from this bridge over the Desaguadero River. This bridge that nobody passes, has locks that prevent from seeing underneath and a voluminous machinery on top, making it the perfect curtain that covers what really happens.
Behind this backdrop at a particular time the so-called “guards” of Playa Azul, authorize the shipment of the products, then an endless row of the so-called “tricicholos” with carrying capacity of 10 quintals approach the contraband to boats that are organized by the “chieftains” of Playa Azul.
Each boat is loaded with at least 30 quintals to cross Peru. There again, they transport them in small cars, only that already exist motored “tricicholos” on the Peruvian side. Finally in streets Leticia and Patria of the Peruvian side, await tens of high tonnage, collection of all cargo trucks, to leave for the 3S road that connects to Puno, Juliaca, Cuzco and Ayacucho.
The level of organization of smuggling in Desaguadero is shocking, “guards” watch that massive shipments are only of twill not lose their sight. Each of the “tricicholos” has a plaque that identifies it, both on the Peruvian and Bolivian side. There are also people that alert to the appearance of any cameras and other people are in charge to intimidate intruders.
Blow to the economy. This unfair competition to legal producers of soy have heavy losses, since smuggling evades all national taxes, therefore the price is so cheap that drives competition out. This directly affects producers of soy of Santa Cruz, which produces 100% soy in Bolivia according to the CAO.
The magnitude of this loss is very difficult to quantify since there is not an exact data of the amount of grain and cake from soy illegally transiting towards the Peru; although it is noted the rapid increase which has had this activity at this time, and the economic effects begin to feel among the producers.
Soy is not a product of the andes and the fact that so much is transported without suspicion and smuggled speaks of the scope that today are called “Association”.
A problem that is growing. Smuggling in the Desaguadero municipality is as old as the border. But reached its most critical point from June 2008 with the shooting and burning of the Customs offices, when they decided to leave the border and transfer to the headquarters in Guaqui. To make matters worse Desaguadero had no Mayor, from late 2008 until 2010.
In January 2011, in a burst of enthusiasm, the highest authority of national Customs made public rapprochement with the municipality and promised the construction of new offices and warehouses for the value of one million dollars, which had an area of one hectare.
Unitl today the intended ground remains intact due to some dissatisfaction with the stony appearance, which suggests the Mayor of Desaguadero Flores Hayta, which is “A kind of excuse unfortunately, not getting to build it. Although the grounds are there, what we have been asked a hectare, is there present”
By adding that “the authorities of the municipality and mainly my person is concerned about the lack of seriousness to this Convention to which we have come” and looking at a desk says: “there we, on the mat have signed with our hand that Convention, but it cannot be that the Customs Office now want it to delete with the elbow”.
Marks still visible. Customs officials claim they are not allowed to provide statements, but we discovered that they occupy offices that is known by all with the name of the “burnt customs” and with few resources only hover in the “new bridge”, leaving Playa Azul at less than 200 meters, without any kind of control. Although the nearby town of Guaqui, it is evident that there is control by the army towards the transport of fuels, but not of other goods.
In Desaguadero smuggling is an open secret, Playa Azul is located one block from the command of the rural and border police, just two blocks from City Hall and three to the posts of customs and migration. By the amount of people involved in this illegal movement of goods, it is illogical to think that they always go unnoticed. What we can observe is an impotence on the part of the means of control which do not have resources to curb a massive smuggling, and Mayor Flores Huayta, without the support promised by the national customs authorities, focus their efforts in raising awareness of the population.
It is inevitable to realize the enormous difference of equipment and migration of the Peruvian side offices and is tragic to see how our resources escape from our country.
More if considering that “this town where we are, is the door of entry and exit.” “And why not say, is the reflection of our multinational State is the image”, as defined by the Mayor of Desaguadero.
The Cadex is alarmed with this situation
Public Communiqué. The President of the Chamber of Exporters of Santa Cruz (Cadex), Wilfredo Rojo, expressed concern about the smuggling of derivatives of soy in the Desaguadero area. He questioned that producers of oilseeds meet complex procedures to commercialize the product, while the “unscrupulous” traders take advantage of the situation and buy cheap in Bolivia because of price bands that qualify for ‘artificial’ and sell them at international prices to foreign merchants. Support their concern with the ant-smuggling photos.
I remember people saying that is really hard to make a legal living in Bolivia, after reading this article, Desaguadero is just the tip of the iceberg. Current government with their exceptional linkages with highland communities, could do much better to protect our legal production.