HomeNewsLand Trafficking Fuels Constant Corruption in Bolivia

The arrest of a Bolivian minister for alleged bribery related to land trafficking highlights how this practice has fueled corruption in the country time and time again.

Last week, Interior Minister Eduardo del Castillo announced that his cabinet colleague and the Minister for Rural Development and Land, Edwin Ronald Characayo Villega, had been arrested along with another senior official for allegedly accepting a cash bribe of $20,000.

According to del Castillo, Characayo had used his role to act in favor of certain people seeking to acquire and clear land for agricultural purposes.

SEE ALSO: How Corruption Feeds Land Trafficking in Latin America

A government press release stated that a police investigation had uncovered a network of collaborators helping Characayo charge bribes related to land trafficking.

Media outlet La Razón, which obtained a police report on the case, claimed Characayo and other public officials were due to receive some $380,000 in total to transfer the ownership of a property located in the municipality of San Ramón, located to the northeast of Santa Cruz de la Sierra city in Bolivia's eastern department of Santa Cruz.

Characayo was charged with the alleged crimes of "passive bribery, extortion, undue use of influence and obtaining benefits through using his position", according to Alberto Aguilar, director of Bolivia's Special Anti-Crime Task Force (Fuerza Especial de Lucha Contra el Crimen – FELCC). The former minister has denied all claims made against him.

This is Bolivia's second rural development minister to find himself in hot water. Last December, Characayo’s predecessor, Wilson Cáceres, was fired by President Luis Arce, for alleged acts of nepotism and influence peddling.

InSight Crime Analysis

Characayo’s arrest has brought to light how corrupt schemes related to land trafficking corruption has plagued successive governments, regardless of who is in office.

InSight Crime has previously reported on how illegally trading land titles in Latin America is often only possible through connections to government officials who can give illicit deals a necessary veneer of legitimacy.

This has long been the case in Bolivia.

SEE ALSO: Plots of Amazon Rainforest Illegally Sold on Facebook

Former presidential chief of staff, Juan Ramón Quintana, recently proposed an independent commission be set up to investigate alleged land trafficking under the previous administration of former interim president Jeanine Áñez.

Last year, Fundación Tierra, a Bolivian non-governmental organization dedicated to the promotion of sustainable rural development, claimed Áñez had awarded over 34,000 hectares of land to the family of her economy minister, Branko Marinković. The foundation detailed how the land was awarded in record time, allegedly violating obligatory legal processes.

Meanwhile, Bolivia’s National Agrarian Reform Institute (Instituto Nacional de Reforma Agraria - INRA) has been plagued by corruption allegations linked to land trafficking. In May 2020, an investigation carried out by the incoming INRA administration found “clans of former officials” had been benefiting from the criminal activity.

Between 2014 and 2019, INRA made some 1,400 authorizations establishing settlements for “new communities” in the department of Santa Cruz, according to non-governmental organization Fundación Tierra. But the NGO claims some of these territories are “ghost communities” that lie in the hands of traffickers.

In 2014, Bolivia passed legislation that established a prison sentence of up to eight years for those illegally selling or trading land.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ELITES AND CRIME / 28 APR 2021

US sanctions on two Guatemalan politicians -- one a political operator and the other an influential legislator -- are the…

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 27 JUL 2022

Guyana claims some 42,800 square nautical miles of ocean. Enforcement capabilities extend to just a fraction of the country's waters.

CARTEL OF THE SUNS / 2 MAY 2022

In 2013, Nicolás Maduro became president of one of the world’s most important cocaine hubs, inheriting a unique drug trafficking…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

‘Ndrangheta Investigation, Exclusive Interview With Suriname President Make Waves

2 DEC 2022

Two weeks ago, InSight Crime published an investigation into how Italian mafia clan the ‘Ndrangheta built a cocaine trafficking network from South America to ‘Ndrangheta-controlled Italian ports. The investigation generated…

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…