Rebeca Morla reports for PanAmPost:
Former Bolivian Presidents Face Criminal Charges over Privatization
Chairman Adolfo Mendoza Anticipates High Treason Indictment for Capitalists.
The Plurinational Legislative Assembly of Bolivia (ALP) will prosecute Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada (1993-1997 and 2002-2003), Jaime Paz Zamora (1989-1993), and Jorge Quiroga (2001-2002), the three former presidents who privatized public enterprises in the country between 1989 and 2000.
On Tuesday, January 13, during the last plenary session of the 2010-2014 period, the Special Joint Commission of Inquiry on the Privatization and Capitalization of Public Enterprises (CEMIPyC) presented their final report on the matter.
The committee, formed in July 2013 to investigate the privatization process in Bolivia, recommended to the APL that they formally initiate the impeachment process against those responsible for the privatization of at least 93 public companies considered integral to Bolivia’s economic development.
Senator Tania Melgar, head of the researchers, explained to local newspaper El Deber that the report arranged nearly 20 separate investigations and includes two recommended accusatory statements against those who led those “nefarious processes” in the country.
In the same vein, Adolfo Mendoza, former chairman of the committee, said he believed those responsible should be tried for high treason. “We have managed to identify about 200 people directly involved in certain criminal offenses within the sale and the entire process of privatization and capitalization in our country,” Mendoza stated.
Moreover, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Marcelo Elío, said the Legislative Assembly will also prosecute Samuel Doria Medina, head of the opposition party National Unity Front (UN), who served as minister of Planning between 1989 and 1993.
“Their signatures were on those documents [and] laws. Among them you can find the names of Samuel Doria Medina, Jorge Quiroga, and other notorious neoliberal politicians…. They aimed to benefit the transnational companies,” Elío said.
Doria Medina, however, told Erbol that during his tenure as minister, the government privatized 24 companies and received US$20 million, all under the framework of an existing law at the time.
“There was a law that said business development corporations had to be transferred, and I followed it. And if they want to prosecute me, they should prosecute all the parliamentarians, the president, the vice president … they would have to prosecute half the country. What will they prosecute if it was a law passed by Congress?” he questioned.
Vice President Álvaro García Linera also made his feelings on the case known. “No privatizer, no matter if 20 years have passed, is safe,” he said. “Whoever has damaged the state — whether it’s been five, 10, or 20 years — is not safe. The hand of justice will find them wherever they are.”
Expanded Government Control
Among the committee’s recommendations were suggestions for the Ministry of Economy and Public Finance to replace the private management of the Stock Exchange and the rating agencies. They argue that “due to their nature” the state should administer these entities.
The committee further suggests the Legislative Assembly provide special consulting for companies that were privatized. Likewise, they also recommend the Ministry of Energy and Metallurgy expand its regulatory role in the mining industry and exercise greater control of the private sale of minerals.
Finally, the report recommends the president pay tribute to the “fighters” who resisted privatization and helped “regain the homeland.”
All About the Votes
Roberto Ortiz Ortiz, director of the local chapter of Students for Liberty, told the PanAm Post that the nationalization of industry has always been of vital importance to the Bolivian government.
He argues that it has provided the funds necessary for the “socialist process of change” being carried out in the country, while at the same time allowing the government to rail against private enterprise, capitalism, and the “oppressive” system influenced by the United States.
Given the upcoming municipal elections, Ortiz believes the prosecution of politicians and businessmen recognized as capitalists provides Evo Morales’s government with a national campaign to rally around.
“It’s all about winning votes by putting on a show and rewarding those against privatization,” he said.
“Moreover, it is important for the government to continue stoking up the fear of entrepreneurs and political opponents through legal battles that never end. By continuing to diminish individual liberty, the government hopes its opponents will put aside their political aspirations, and entrepreneurs will stop funding their opponents’ projects.”
Edited by Guillermo Jimenez.
I believe that current Bolivian government has began to lose ground. A decade lost to development, over $150 billion dollars wasted. And now this ochlocracy wants to prosecute those who made possible all the bonanza that they brag about?!
First of all, those presidents did follow, comply with the existing laws, therefore whatever the masismo intends to do is just part of their propaganda. As they were capable of investing, of saving for rainy days. This is just the proof we needed to prove the world the masistas and its coca-grower caudillo are completely inept to govern!