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  • Every year, thousands of Bolivians march in the month of October to remember the 2003 “Gas War,” also known as the “Black October” massacre.

    Every year, thousands of Bolivians march in the month of October to remember the 2003 “Gas War,” also known as the “Black October” massacre. | Photo: AFP

Published 25 August 2017

The probe accuses former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada of having caused the economic damage through his privatization policies.

Bolivia lost at least US $10 billion during the era of “neoliberal privatization” policies between 1985 and 2005, President Evo Morales has revealed.

An ongoing investigation by the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, ALP, has discovered the extent of the economic damage, which Morales denounced on his official Twitter account.

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A special commission within the parliamentary investigation accuses former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada of having caused the economic damage through his policies which privatized state companies and the country’s natural resources.

"The figure for economic damage is estimated at 10 billion dollars, but the exact figure will be (released) in two weeks," said Javier Zabaleta, president of the Commission for Investigation of the Privatization and Capitalization Process of Public Enterprises.

"Parliamentary investigation revealed immense economic damage. Bolivia lost at least US $ 10,000 MM for neoliberal privatizations, 1985-2005."

Sanchez deLozada is accused of having undersold the state shares during his presidency in the 90’s for ¿US $13 million, while its value was estimated to have been US $29 million.

The former president was also charged with the crime of genocide in 2005 for his alleged role in the deaths of dozens during protests in October 2003. That conflict, known as the “Bolivian Gas War,” saw at least 64 people killed and a further 400 injured.

Demonstrators were opposed to a plan to export Bolivia’s then-privatized natural gas through neighboring Chile.

They had demanded the nationalization of Bolivia’s natural gas reserves so that more peopkle could benefit from the country’s natural resources rather than a minority.

Sanchez de Lozada was forced to resign from office on Oct. 17, 2003 during the massive protests, fleeing to the United States where he was granted asylum.

However, in 2005, he and 15 of his ministers were charged by the Bolivian Supreme Court with the crime of genocide. The United States,  last year, accepted Bolivia’s request to begin the former President’s extradition process.

The request to nationalize natural gas was one of the first fulfilled by Morales when he took office in 2006. Bolivia’s current social transformation under his government has been largely funded by the industry.


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