The Bolivian “Sergio Moro” Aspires to the Presidency

Oscar Ortiz, the opposition Senator who has overseen investigations into misuse of state funds, has announced he will challenge Evo Morales for the presidency.

Oscar Ortiz has become a well-known figure in Bolivia for his anti-corruption investigations (Oscar Ortiz).

By Emilio Martinez Cardona

In Bolivia, with a judicial system controlled by the Evo Morales regime, it would have been impossible for large corruption cases to be investigated independently, as occurred in Brazil with the famous prosecutor Sergio Moro.

The man who took responsibility for investigating such cases was the opposition Senator Oscar Ortiz, using the powers of parliamentary oversight, and calling the implicated officials to appear and testify before the chamber.

In these investigations, the case of the Peasant Indigenous Fund (Fondioc) stood out; a case in which millions of dollars were diverted to the personal accounts of trade union leaders of Morales’ ruling Movement Towards Socialism political party, money that in theory should have been earmarked for the development of rural communities.

Ortiz gathered his research in the book “Chronicle of a Betrayal”, where he explains how the government used the Fondioc to co-opt and divide indigenous organizations, neutralizing government opposition.

Another of the cases investigated was the illicit favoring of the Chinese company Camc, which benefited from large public works contracts, at a time when President Morales’ partner, Gabriela Zapata, held an important management position in that company.

Zapata even held meetings with businessmen in the Social Management Unit of the Ministry of the Presidency, an office traditionally known as the “office of the First Lady.”

More recently, Oscar Ortiz has unveiled the tangle of presidential decrees that facilitate corruption, through regulations that have replaced a bidding process for awarding government contracts.

Now, the “Bolivian Sergio Moro” has embarked on a campaign for the presidency at the head of the Bolivia Dice No alliance, which takes its name from the citizen’s mandate expressed at the polls on February 21, 2016, when the majority of the country voted against a new re-election of Evo Morales and his vice-president, Álvaro García Linera.

Ortiz is the only one among the first three candidates clearly aligned with republican and liberal principles, since the other two, Evo Morales and Carlos Mesa, represent variants of the socialist bloc inspired by the Sao Paulo Forum. The current president, Morales, is a radical in the style of Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro, and the former president Carlos Mesa is more in the vein of the supposedly moderate Lula da Silva, whom he even defended in a joint letter with Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Something else unites Morales and Mesa: the large public works contracts signed in their respective mandates with Brazilian companies such as OAS, Odebrecht, and Queiroz Galvão, companies all tied to the Lava Jato corruption probes; the biggest scandal in Latin American history.

So with the situation as it is now, the safest alternative to leave behind the kleptocratic era is presented in the candidacy of Ortiz. Currently, polls put him in third place, with Mesa falling from second place, while Morales remains stuck with a hard vote of just over 30%.

If these tendencies are maintained, it is likely that the “Bolivian Sergio Moro” will be the one who ends up disputing the first round presidential election with the cocalero leader.

Emilio Martínez Cardona is a Uruguayan-Bolivian writer and political analyst.

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