Date: Tue, 12 Aug 97 12:15:05 CDT
From: rich%pencil@YaleVM.CIS.Yale.Edu (Rich Winkel)
Subject: Weekly Americas News Update #393, 8/10/97

/** reg.nicaragua: 66.0 **/
** Topic: Weekly News Update #393, 8/10/97 **
** Written 8:04 AM Aug 11, 1997 by wnu in cdp:reg.nicaragua **
From: Weekly News Update <>
ISSUE #393, AUGUST 10, 1997
339 LAFAYETTE ST., NEW YORK, NY 10012 (212) 674-9499

New president sworn in, US cuts military aid

From Weekly News Update on the Americas,
Issue 393, 10 August, 1997

Ex-dictator turned populist politician Hugo Banzer Suarez was sworn in as Bolivia's new president on Aug. 6, a day after being elected by Congress to serve a five-year term. (The presidential term was lengthened from four years to five in constitutional reforms passed by the previous legislature.) Jorge Quiroga Ramirez is the new vice president. Banzer came in first in the June 1 popular vote, but did not win the more than 50% of ballots needed to be elected president; his Nationalist Democratic Action (ADN) then negotiated a coalition with the Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR), Civic Solidarity Unity (UCS) and Homeland Conscience (CONDEPA) parties to gain enough support in Congress to win the presidency. The final vote in Congress was 115 to 30. The Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR) of outgoing president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada is not part of the new coalition.

Banzer, a retired general who headed a brutal military government in Bolivia from 1971 to 1978, promised in his inauguration speech that his government will be guided "by service to the people," and that he will be "at the side of the poor from the first day." Banzer said one of the priorities of his government will be to combat drug trafficking "so that Bolivia can stop being stigmatized by an image which threatens its development." Banzer said he would continue the current neoliberal economic model "but more human and giving preponderance to social development." [El Diario-La Prensa 8/7/97 from AP, 8/6/97 from EFE]

Guillermo Canedo Patino, a former US Green Beret and a veteran of the US war against Vietnam, was sworn in on Aug. 8 as the Interior Ministry's new social defense secretary, in charge of coca leaf eradication and other anti-drug programs. Canedo, who is also a veteran of the Bolivian military, belongs to Banzer's ADN party. [Los Tiempos (Cochabamba) 8/9/97 from ANF]

The only woman in Banzer's cabinet is new justice minister Ana Maria Cortez. Veteran career diplomat Javier Murillo de la Rocha is the new foreign minister; prominent ADN leader Carlos Iturralde is the new presidency minister. [Los Tiempos 8/8/97]

New governance minister Guido Nayar Parada revealed on Aug. 8 that the US has suspended its military aid to Bolivia and is planning to make further cuts in its cooperation programs against drug trafficking, not only in Bolivia but in other countries whose policies it supports. According to Nayar, the outgoing administration "knew well not only about the withdrawal of the helicopters that were lending cooperation in the country, but also of other decisions that have similar elements to this." The new government has asked the US embassy to release high-level classified information explaining the reasons for the aid suspension. Nayar denied that the aid suspension had anything to do with the presence of the MIR in the new coalition government. The US has accused several MIR leaders of being linked to drug trafficking. "The decision [to suspend US aid] was made even before the elections, therefore no links exist," said Nayar. [Los Tiempos 8/9/97]

Weekly News Update on the Americas * Nicaragua Solidarity Network of NY 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012 * 212-674-9499 fax: 212-674-9139 *

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