Gen. Sanabria pleads guilty to drug trafficking, and Peruvian President-elect Humala visits Bolivia.
The former anti-narcotics chief, Gen. René Sanabria, pleaded guilty to charges of drug trafficking and conspiracy on Thursday in Miami.
The 58 year-old, ex-leader of Bolivia’s anti-drug police unit is facing trial in the U.S. after being caught in Panama with 144 kilos of cocaine last February. The arrest has sent shockwaves through the Bolivian security services, with a number of other high ranking officers being implicated in the case. Despite Morales’ quick dismissal of Sanabria and the subsequent arrests of other figures involved, criticism abounds that the President must have been aware of high-level drug corruption within the police.
The case has also increased tension between Chile and Bolivia with the coming to light of hidden-camera footage of Sanabria offering to sell $5 million of cocaine to undercover Chilean agents. Morales has criticised Chile for not alerting the Bolivian government of the tape and the suspicions against Sanabria. This diplomatic spat comes hard on the heels of continuing tension over Bolivian attempts to retrieve coastal access from Chile.
Despite rising fears over Bolivia’s ability to lead its own anti-narcotics programme, Morales has held by his criticisms of the DEA, declaring its vie for control of drug trafficking as “clearly political”. He expelled the DEA from Bolivia in November in 2008.
Peruvian President-elect Ollanta Humala visited La Paz on Wednesday, on what was the future head-of-state’s second tour to the country. Morales is thought to have raised the issue of Bolivia’s maritime claim with Chile.
Humala declared that he hoped to see greater unity between Bolivia and Peru, even drawing on the Peru-Bolivian Confederation (1836-1839) when the two countries were united as one. This unity, which Humala described as a “dream” caused a stir in Bolivia, with many interpreting it as a declaration of diplomatic support for the maritime claim.
However, Peru’s foreign minister, García Belaunde, clarified that this statement did not suggest that Humala would become actively involved in the negotiations.