Bolivian President Evo Morales chided government officials implicated in a major corruption scandal involving a Bolivian-based foundation known as the Indigenous Fund.
“Brothers and sisters of the indigenous campesino movement and of the Unity Pact, we have an obligation to be more transparent,” President Morales said Monday.
The corruption scandal first surfaced last February after the release of a final report conducted by the Bolivian Department of Internal Affairs. After national elections in March, Morales acknowledged the allegations may have harmed his ruling MAS party, saying “It hurts that we lost in La Paz. There were strong allegations of corruption, so if this was a protest vote, then I congratulate the people.”
The report revealed that between 2010 and 2011, only 20 percent of 153 approved projects through the Indigenous Fund were carried out. In total, nearly US$10 million from the fund could not be accounted for.
Morales vowed to introduce structural measures which aim to enhance oversight and greater community involvement in development projects carried out by the Indigenous Fund.
“The kind of project management without any sort of control mechanisms, without any kind of municipal involvement and very little consideration of the problems faced by local communities, is all going to change,” Morales said.
President Morales´ statements come after two high-ranking government officials, Bolivia’s Rural Development and Land Minister, Nemesia Achocollo, and the country’s Ambassador to Paraguay, Rosendo Alpiri, resigned in the wake of the investigations.
Achocollo, who maintains her innocence, was replaced Monday by former La Paz Governor Cesar Cocarico.
Morales has yet to name a replacement for Alpiri, who had been in the post since October 2014 and was linked to one of the phantom projects.
Earlier this year, shortly after observing financial irregularities, the Bolivian Internal Affairs department began collecting evidence against many of the general directors implicated in the case.
Among those named were the high-ranking indigenous leader and director of the Confederation of Bolivian Indigenous Peoples (CIDOB), Marco Antonio Aramayo and Felipa Huanca, a leader of the Bartolina Sisa Campesina Women’s Federation. No one has been charged as yet in the investigations.