Bolivia: indigenous dissident cleared of charges

After three years of investigation, Bolivia's Public Ministry reached a decision on March 15 not to bring criminal charges against Adolfo Chávez, the former leader of the Confederation of the Indigenous Peoples of the Bolivian Oriente (CIDOB), and 21 others who were linked to a corruption scandal in a case many saw as politically motivated. Chávez and the others were accused of misappropriating monies made available through the government's Development Fund for Original Indigenous Peoples and Campesino Communities (FONDIOC). But he claimed he was targeted for his opposition to the government's development plans for the Isiboro Secure Inidgenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS), in the eastern rainforest.

In October, Chávez testified before the Inter-American Human Rights Commission at a meeting in Montevideo that coca-growers in the TIPNIS loyal to the ruling Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) were attacking the reserve's indigenous inhabitants, even burning down their dwellings and crops.

In 2013, Chávez had also faced charges in a purported violent attack on a pro-MAS campesino leader in the TIPNIS, leading to a stand-off with authorities in the reserve. In October of that year, the charge was ordered dropped by Bolivia's high court, the Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal.

The FONDIOC in 2015 replaced an earlier body with the same actual name but the more unweildy acronym of FDPPIOYCC, after accusations that monies from the fund were being misappropriated by MAS adherents. Both bodies were generally known as the Indigenous Fund. (ANF, March 15, 2018; Página Siete, Oct. 27, 2017; Página Siete, April 23, 2017; La Razón, Aug. 29, 2015; La Razón, Oct. 9, 2013)

Photo: ANF