Former Bolivian President and 12 High Officials Accused of Economic Crimes


LA PAZ – The Bolivian Parliament, dominated by President Evo Morales' party, has accused former president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada and 12 other former high officials of alleged economic crimes committed during the privatization of companies in the 1990s.

On Tuesday, the legislature approved two accusatory propositions against the 13 after hearing the Parliamentary Committee's report following investigations at the request of the government over alleged damage caused to the country with the privatization of public enterprises between 1989 and 2000.

The proposals were sent to the Attorney General's office, which has 30 days to reject or accept them and, in case of the latter, the new Legislative Assembly, which will begin its activities on Jan. 22, must authorize the trial against the defendants.

Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera, who also chairs the parliament, explained that the accusatory propositions refer specifically to two cases: the privatization of the National Railroad Enterprise and the creation of a productive loans fund.

The 13 were accused of contracts damaging to the state, wasteful conduct and breach of duties.

Lozada and another former minister, Carlos Sanchez Berzain, have been living in the United States for more than 11 years and must respond to a trial in Bolivia over their alleged guilt in the deaths of more than 60 people between September and October 200

The deaths occurred during the repression of a social revolt against the decision of the Lozada government over exporting Bolivian gas to the United States through a Chilean port.

Linera said Tuesday that during the period of privatization Bolivia was left without resources and lost economic and political sovereignty.

Samuel Doria Medina, another former minister accused in the case, wrote Tuesday on his Twitter account that the government's accusation is deceitful and that Linera was acting like a prosecutor and judge.