In Bolivia, water supply talks turned into a hostage situation when some officials failed to attend planning meetings multiple times.
Local police reportedly rescued Deputy Minister of Water Rubén Méndez, Regional Director of Epsas Roberto Rojas and at least six other officials who were being held by local leaders at meeting to complete a water project.
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On Thursday, November 17, the leaders of the Federation of Town Councils (Fejuve) held officials and water authorities following the absence of the Minister of Environment and Water Alexandra Moreira from a meeting to report on a water supply project in the city of El Alto.
“We have been respectful and we are going to wait for the minister to come here and inform the city, no matter the schedule,” said community leader Sandro Ramírez. “If the Minister has to arrive at midnight we will wait here.”
After three hours, the police came to the scene and ended the meeting, removing the authorities who were held there.
Government officials announced that it has already begun writing up a case for kidnapping and racketeering against the leaders of the Federation of Town Councils (Fejuve) in El Alto.
“What happened with the retention of Deputy Minister Rubén Méndez and the Manager of Epsas Roberto Rojas, is that it’s simply a criminal action — it is kidnapping — we have already talked with the prosecutor in La Paz Edwin Blanco, so as to send a prosecutor to do the proceedings,” said Minister of Government Carlos Romero.
Vice President of Fejuve in El Alto Zacarías Laura justified their actions by saying that on two occasions the invitation to the Minister of Water and Environment had been made, but ignored.
According to witnesses, approximately 20 police officers led by Subcommander General Rosa Lema and La Paz Departmental Commander Colonel Abel de la Barra forced their way through the gated entrance to Fejuve and made the leadership to release the officials.
The leaders of Fejuve decided to release the officers after more than three hours. Mendez was escorted to police headquarters.
Minister Carlos Romero said both Mendez and Rojas will have to agree to corroborate that they were not taken hostage.