Wednesday, April 12, 2006

MAS: Extortion, Internal Conflict, Nepotism and Corruption

During the last few days, several news arose showing the true nature of Evo Morales' administration. According to different reports, MAS could be facing their first corruption scandal -which they dismissed as a "mistake"-, while on other sides, proofs of extortion, internal conflict and nepotism appear.

Extortion

Today's front page in La Razon is clear: "MAS forces public sector workers to contribute". The article shows that in the run for the Constituent Assembly, MAS sent a letter ordering all public sector workers to give 5% of their salaries to the party. In what is by now a common practice of the administration, contradictions soon began to appear. Vice president Garcia Linera said that his party would not force anybody to give them money and doubted the authenticity of the letter, while the Chief of Deputies, Gustavo Torrico, confirmed its existence. Torrico then said that this order showed the transparency of the MAS government. "What should we do?", he asked, "As a party use state money?... We work with money from us, we always did it that way (sic)". Torrico also said that the letter had a redaction problem, as donations are voluntary. A copy of the letter is shown below. You can see for yourself the "redaction problem" in the letter. You can also note MAS' motto at one side: Territorio, poder, coca.


Last Sunday, Morales ordered their MPs to contribute to their party. He was quoted as saying: "Here's the vicepresident, bring your timesheets and we will discount [the "donation"]. I have been told that not everybody wants to sign; this is an obligation and is not up to discussion".


Internal Conflict

This is nothing but the latest piece on what appears to be a highly disorganized party. According to this report, the last round took place yesterday when the newly appointed District Director of the Santa Cruz Customs wanted to assume his position. 50 persons carrying signs protested while MAS substitute MP for Santa Cruz, Adriana Gil, supported the protesters. She lamented that MAS is sending workers from La Paz and taking away jobs from Santa Cruz supporters.

This is the last on a series of protests from MASistas looking to be appointed for public sector. The services of Migration and Education, state-run Channel 7 and INRA all have suffered from MASistas looking for easy jobs. Read the whole thing here.

Nepotism

Although MAS has been accused of nepotism from the start (here), things are getting worse. Los Tiempos reports that Foreign Minister, David Choquehuanca, and former candidate for prefect in La Paz, Manuel Morales Davila, have relatives in the public administration.

The nephew of Choquehuanca works now in the parliament, so that MAS is now denying nepotism claims by saying that this can not be the case, as one works for the Executive and the other for the Legislative power, which are independent from one another (the most impressive thing about this denial is that it seems that MAS actually knows that these are supposed to be separate and independent powers).

On the second case, Manuel Morales Davila (not related to Evo), has his Son Manuel and his daughter Marcia in important state positions. Marcia is caretaker president of the Bolivian Customs, while Manuel Jr. is adviser for the president of the state-run oil company, YPFB. There are no denials on this one so far, although MAS stated that they would make an enquiry.

Corruption

This cynically labeled as "mistake" from MAS could be the first corruption scandal to hit the administration. The first article appeared yesterday in La Razon. According to the article, the government omitted the licitation process and subscribed a $130 million contract with a Brazilian enterprise for the construction of a road. Moreover, this contract was supported by a Supreme Decree (N. 28623) and was denounced from jail by Bakovic, the former president of the National Roads Service (SNC), who was, incidentally, imprisoned without a trial and without charges, other than Evo's wishes to see him imprisoned, being levied against him (read more about Bakovic's case here). He said that the contract was signed without the mandatory licitation process and was overpriced. Perhaps this is the real reason Bakovic's in jail?

The reaction from the current president of the SNC (a MAS pawn, obviously) was as cold and cynical as things can get: "We have made a mistake and we will correct it". The vice-minister for coordination with social movements expressed himself on the same line: "We are not an infallible government and is noble to admit the mistake". He also said that the government would take the blame for it in a collective manner.

Supreme Decree 28263, signed by Evo Morales, authorized the SNC to override the licitation process and gave the SNC time to make the cost analysis of the project. Now, MAS is hoping to avoid the scandal by drafting a new Supreme Decree to annul the aforementioned one.

Meanwhile, Podemos has called for the resignation of current SNC president, Patricia Ballivian, and the Minister for Services and Public Works, Salvador Ric. Podemos correctly point out that this is a blatant show of corruption and that it cannot be passed as a mistake. Read it here.


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2 Comments:

Blogger luiyi said...

Evo Morales rose to power promising to fight corruption but he is not walking the talk. With his first acts as President, here he is flouting the law to go after one of Bolivia's best public officers, Jose M. Bakovic who four and a half years ago came out of his World Bank retirement to head the National Roads Agency. Under Bakovic’s tenure, more roads were built than in the previous 46 years and open competitive bidding became the rule. In the process, he made powerful enemies among those who benefited from the previous practice of sole source and non transparent contract awards. At his inaugural, Evo claimed corruption charges at the institution, then refused Mr Bakovic an audience to clarify the accusations and had him jailed into a maximum security prison on March 31, 2006, denying him due-process and his rights of presumed innocence. The immediate reaction from the Bolivian Commission of Human Rights, the People’s Defender (human rights watchdog) angered Morales so that he called corrupt the same Defender who watched over him while a candidate. Three weeks after Bakovic had resigned, the next road project (Uyuni-Potosi) was awarded without open competitive bidding, by a Supreme Decree by President Morales. From jail, Bakovic denounced the decision. The President recalled the Decree, claiming an error. Some want to propose Evo Morales for the Nobel Peace Prize, but move over Evo, you will not get this one until Fidel gets it first!

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Luis G. Poucel said...

Luis Gutiérrez Poucel

4:44 PM  

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