(Image Courtesy Marcelo Arispe)Bolivia's Senate, dominated by the official Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party of President Evo Morales, is set to begin "debate" on the long-awaited government-sponsored "anti-corruption" legislation named for the murdered writer, journalist and political activist. He was killed by the followers of dictator Luis Garcia Meza in the early stages of the military coup of July 17, 1980, and his body never found.
The Senate's minority opposition has criticized the proposed law, as has the Bolivia-based nonprofit Transparencia Bolivia. The new law would be retroactive and, according to critics, would violate the presumption of innocence and other legal rights of those accused. In addition, the accused could be tried in absensia. Transparencia also says that to conduct an anti-corruption campaign from the executive branch of the government violates the separation of powers.
Since Morales was overwhelmingly re-elected in December, his government has supported land takeovers in rural parts of the country organized by indigenous groups and affecting wealthy landowners, and has accused a number of opposition politicians of crimes. A number of them, including a former presidential candidate and several top business leaders, have left the country in self-imposed exile to the United States, Peru and other countries.