Friday, January 1, 2010

Ex-Presidential Candidate Manfred Flees Bolivia

Manfred Reyes Villa, one of Evo’s main political opponents has gone into hiding and has not been seen in public for a matter of weeks and speculation rages around his whereabouts. The government claims that
Manfred fled Bolivia to the US via Peru on December 14th despite a judicial stay-order and impending corruptions lawsuits that obligated him to remain in the country. One of Manfred’s spokesmen, Andres Ortega, said that the government’s claim was not credible, implying that Manfred was still in Bolivia and insisted that Manfred would attend any future hearings regarding the charges being made against him. Manfred had announced 16 days ago that he was going into hiding for fear of arrest as a political prisoner but affirmed that he would not leave Bolivia.

Arrest warrants for the ex-governnor of the State of Cochabamba, Manfred Reyes Villa and his wife Teresa Avila issued after Manfred failed to appear at a hearing scheduled for December 29th. Manfred’s lawyer Daniel Humerez complained that, quote: As Mandred Reyes Villa has gone clandestine it is absurb that he has been summoned to an audience with a document attached to the door of a house which he doesn’t currently inhabit although he is the owner.”

Manfred was recently the primary opposition candidate to Evo Morales in the Bolivian Presidential elections of December 5th, 2009 that Evo won by a landslide 64%. Manfred was the nearest candidate with just 26% of the vote.

Manfred had been under investigation on corruption charges since before the elections relating to a real estate transaction in which he sold his apartment in the Torres Sofer, a wealthy apartment complex in Cochabamba.

The dates on different legal papers relating to the sale alledgedly do not correspond and the chief judge of Cochabamba, Muaricio Julio Quintana, ordered Mandfred to appear at a court date to explain the discrepancy but Manfred did not appear, thus an arrest warrant was issued.

Judge Quintana is the nephew of the Ministry of the Presidency Juan Ramon Quintana, one of the highest ranking members of the Morales government and a member of Evo’s Movement to Socialism or MAS party. The government’s opposition is accusing Morales of taking vengeance against his former competitor in the election and political adversary by vigorously investigating charges of corruption against his opponents while doing little to investigate the corruption scandals that have emerged in the MAS government.

President Morales angrily accused the police and investigators of letting Manfred slip out of their grasp into exile and he summarily fired the national police director Jorge Santisteban and the director of national intelligence for the State of Santa Cruz upon learning of Manfred’s alleged escape.

Manfred was governor of the State of Cochabamba for many years and his record as governor was a mixed one in which he gained broad popular support in Cochabamba for successfully creating many infrastructure improvements but was dogged by persistent allegations of corruption. lidad/local/20091231/ordenan-aprehender-a-manfred-y-su-esposa_51841_91090.html

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