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Bolivia: Government Minister Questions US Aid

The Minister of the Presidency, Juan Ramón Quintana publicly questioned the nature of aid provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In addition, the accusations portray some of the non-governmental organizations and their staff, which receives funds from USAID, as destabilizers of the government and others as traitors to the country. Quintana went as far as providing names of those accused of receiving these funds for ulterior purposes. This caused some bloggers to come to the defense of those singled out by the minister, while others investigated the background of the minister, who made these public accusations.

One of those named was Carlos Hugo Molina, former Prefect of Santa Cruz. He happens to have his own blog called Ágora [ES], where he took the opportunity to address the minister. The comments sections demonstrates the support that he has from the blogger community. He recently also addressed the Bloguivianos blogger conference [ES].

El Ministro de la Presidencia, con Cédula de identidad: 2663228 L.P., nacido el 3 de diciembre de 1959, en la ciudad de Cochabamba – Bolivia, ha tenido a bien, junto con otros ciudadanos bolivianos, mi hermano Roberto Barbery Anaya entre otros, de calificarme de “vendepatria”.

Muchas gracias. Me ha permitido reencontrarme con muchos amigos y amigas que no sabía de su existencia hace algunos años. Y de abrazarme con los de siempre.

Carlos Hugo Molina, ciudadano en ejercicio.

The Minister of the Presidency, with the I.D. card: 2663228 L.P. born December 3, 1959, in the city of Cochabamba – Bolivia, labeled me, along with other Bolivian citizens, such as my brother Roberto Barbery Anaya among others, as a “traitor.” Thank you. This has allowed me to be reunited with many friends, many of which I have not heard from for many years and hug those that have been with me always. Carlos Hugo Molina, active citizen.

In response to the minister's claims, Rosa Jiménez Cano wonders [ES]:

¿Por qué cuándo alguien reclama algo mejor para su país y lo critica abiertamente lo tachan de vende-patrias?

Why is it when someone fights for something better for one's country that they criticize them and label them as traitors?

Miguel Centellas of Pronto*, a political science professor, takes a look at the claim of Quintana and how it might compare with the aid provided by other countries.

A day after a regionalist opposition-led strike, Bolivia’s government shot back. It has frequently attacked the opposition for its ties to the US & other international NGOs (such ties do exist, of course), specifically singling out the US for its “political” aid. Of course, isn’t all aid “political”? Or does Venezuela’s millions in military & other aid not serve a “political” purpose? But today’s attacks resembled a witch hunt.

Many NGOs receive their funding from abroad and some bloggers wonder why the U.S. was singled out. In fact, some took a look at Minister Quintana's resume that has been posted on the government's website and found that he has linked with foreign NGOs. Rubens Barbery of the blog Metafora [ES] writes:

Sorprende el cinismo del Ministro de la Presidencia Quintana al acusar a instituciones como desestabilizadores de la democracia por el hecho de trabajar con la “cooperación imperialista” en proyectos de desarrollo, siendo él, fundador y principal responsable del “Observatorio de Democracia y Seguridad”, institución que recibe financiamiento de la Cooperación Inglesa (interesante criterio para definir que cooperación es o no es “imperialista”).

I am surprised at the cynicism of the Minister of the Presidency Quintana to accuse institutions of being destabilizers of democracy only for the fact of working with “imperialist cooperation” in development projects, because he, as founder and the one responsible for “the Democracy and Security Observatory”, which is an institution that receives funding from the English Cooperation (it would be interesting to find out what defines aid as “imperialist” or not).

Finally, Centellas reacts to an editorial that delves deeper into the minister's past and publishes his post titled, “Who is Juan Ramon Quintana?”

Juan Ramón Quintana himself once participated in the Banzer regime (he was aide to Fernado Keiffer, Banzer’s defense minister). None of this is secret; you can view his online vita. Like many other Bolivian social scientists, his work ties him to such NGOs as USAID, ILDIS, PIEB, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and others. What was that about people in glass houses?

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