Monday, January 16, 2006

Missiles controversy

The highest commander of the Bolivian army, general Antezana, has been in the center of a growing controversy lately.

This whole affair started when Evo Morales denounced that 29 land-air missiles were irregularly handed from the Bolivian army to the United States. Due to the importance of this missiles in Bolivia's defense, he threatened to start a responsibilities process to president Rodriguez and the defense minister.

General Antezana declared that these missiles were obsolete and had to be demolished. He also affirmed that foreign personnel participated in the demolition and furthermore he takes full responsibility of the decision. But that was only the first of many other statements, each of them changing his role in the whole affair.

First he starts regretting that the missiles went out of the country, "...maybe they should have never left, we should have brought the technicians here." However, he still shows confidence in his choice.

Two weeks later he denies that he gave any authorization for the shipment of the missiles. He tells the press to ask the defense minister to for details.

Then, a few days ago he completely drops the idea that the missiles were obsolete. He points that the outgoing government was pressured to hand over the missiles because of the almost certain victory of Evo Morales. According to him, the US didn't want these missiles in the hands of a socialist government. Later in the afternoon he talks again to the press after an undoubtedly not too friendly talk with president Rodriguez. It turns out that he might have exaggerated previously, the final facts are going to be in a forthcoming report. Let there be no doubt about the government's integrity and sovereignty.

To find what? That today Antezana talks again. He accuses the government and politicians to have signed an agreement to hand over the missiles to the US. Furthermore, he claims to have proofs, and he challenges the government to present the details of this agreement within 48 hours.

Let's forget the obvious fact that general Antezana badly needs attention. The important question here is whether these missiles were really obsolete and if the demolition of the missiles is justified.

There seems to be a final report on the matter already. According to what I read in La Prensa it should go public shortly. While we wait for that document take a look at this statement from Juan Ignacio Siles, ex-canciller during the government of Mesa. He says that they were also kindly asked to give up the missiles, but they refused. In the same article, some military sources contest that the missiles are obsolete. What is more, Bolivia is still paying for them!

Also, more information on the site of FAB extraoficial.


Blogger Jonathan said...

I'll be publishing an extensive note on FAB-EXTRAOFICIAL once I get my hands on that precious official report. Otherwise I'll settle for compilations and a few surprises.

And I'll reopen the forum.


9:23 PM  

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