8 years in jail for closing Bolivia’s state fertilizer plant

Bolivia’s prosecutor’s office is calling for an eight year jail sentence for coup regime officials who closed the state-owned fertilizer plant during the Añez dictatorship. The charges are due to the economic damage caused by the closure. The plant has been re-opened by President Luis Arce, but at great cost due to repairs and lost production. With the current conflict in Ukraine and the subsequent global fertilizer shortage, Bolivia would have faced severe inflation if the plant had remained closed.

The director of the Prosecutor’s Office for Corruption, Aldrin Barrientos, said on Monday, “The Prosecutor’s Office issued the formal accusation supported by 11 pieces of testimonial evidence and 73 pieces of documentary evidence that was seized from the institutions involved, as well as testimony from a forensic expert provided by the Forensic Research Institute (IDIF) that allowed us to quantify the total economic damage caused to the state.” 

The urea and ammonia fertilizer plant is in the town of Bulo Bulo, Trópico of Cochabamba, and was opened by the government of Evo Morales, but was then closed along with most state industries following the US-backed coup in November 2019. It was re-opened in September 2021 by Luis Arce’s government. 

According to the investigation, the damage caused by the closure during the Jeanine Añez regime amounts to $8 million USD in lost production, repairs of damaged equipment, spare parts, and the rehiring of services and staff.

The prosecutor’s office now requests an eight year jail sentence for the coup regime officials involved in the decision. Those accused are; Víctor Hugo Zamora, former Minister of Hydrocarbons and Herland Javier Soliz, former president of YPFB (state gas company).   

The accused will face justice for the crime of “breach of duties and uneconomic conduct” which is punished with a custodial sentence by the penal code. The Prosecutor’s Office is waiting for the courts to signal the start of the trial.

The plant produced 86,509 metric tonnes of fertilizer in the first three months after it was re-opened by Luis Arce’s government. It supplies local campesinos and is exported to Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

By Kawsachun News

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