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News > Bolivia

Bolivia: Main Opposition Candidate Accused of Taking US Funds

  • Mesa is currently polling second for Bolivia’s presidential elections this October.

    Mesa is currently polling second for Bolivia’s presidential elections this October. | Photo: EFE

Published 3 July 2019

"It is no coincidence that a few days after returning from the U.S., it was announced that Mesa has close to US$10 million," Movement for Socialism legislator, Valeria Silva, denounced.

Bolivia’s main opposition presidential candidate for the Citizens Community (CC) party, Carlos Mesa, is under fire as his party has been accused of receiving US$10 million in initial funding from unknown sources from the United States (U.S.).

Bolivian Lawmakers Ask for US Intervention in a Letter to Trump

“Mesa went a few days ago to the United States, the question is, did he go to look for contributors? It is no coincidence that a few days after returning from his trip, it was announced that (Mesa) has close to US$10 million for his campaign," Movement for Socialism (MAS) legislator, Valeria Silva, denounced.

On Sunday, the spokesman for Mesa’s party, Diego Ayo — a former employee for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) — assured that the amount was collected in charity festivals and with contributions from private individuals. 

However, as public pressure amounted and in a bizarre turn of events, Mesa came out to say that all was a “lie” and that his campaign "doesn't have that budget," soon after Ayo quit the party. 

Transparency in the handling of money used by political parties is an obligation mandated by the Law on Political Organizations, so lawmakers from President Evo Morales’ party, reiterated the requirement that opposition candidate needs to explain the origin of the resources for his campaign. 

Also reminding that the common U.S. practice of corporate lobbying and funding for candidates is illegal in Bolivia. 

Bolivia's Opposition Neoliberal Past, Ties With US

On May, the Anti-corruption Specialized Prosecutor’s Office of Bolivia announced that is investigating 15 unusual transactions in the bank accounts of Mesa, accused of alleged corruption and illegal enrichment.

Mesa is currently polling second for Bolivia’s presidential elections this October. He was a former president and vice-president during the neoliberal period.

He is best known as serving alongside former president Sanchez de Lozada, who fled by helicopter to Miami just as Bolivia was experiencing one of its worst economic crisis. Also responsible for the ‘Black October’ massacre, during which state security forces killed over 60 Bolivians in the context of anti-privatization protests.

In more than one occasion, the right-wing candidate has expressed his open support for U.S. intervention in Bolivia, arguing that the Latin American nation is a "small country" and needs to have strong relations with the "world's largest power."

An opinion shared by the Bolivian opposition, who openly and constantly ask for U.S. intervention in the country, as the North American nation did during most of Bolivia’s history. 

On April 1, a group of 10 legislators, two senators and three representatives of political and non-government organizations sent a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump asking to “intercede” in their country’s affairs.

As a response, the Bolivian head of state tweeted that he “can not understand that there are Bolivians who ask for the intervention of the U.S. in internal affairs. They want to see again foreign military bases in Bolivia, ministers disguised as cowboys for July 4 and laws made in American law firms,” emphatically adding that “the people will not allow it.”

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