Coming to terms – A photo affair

It is over a month since President Evo Morales in an interview with an Italian daily denounced there was a rightwing conspiracy against him and his indigenous government. Active members of the conspiracy were allegedly U.S. Ambassdor to Bolivia Philip Goldberg, Industry and Commerce Chamber president Mr. Gabriel Dabdoub, and John Jairo Banegas, hitherto an unknown Colombian first charged with leading a gang in Santa Cruz then escalated to a paramilitary condition.

Now Interpol has ended  the probe about alleged paramilitary activities in Colombia. Interpol chief, Col. Miguel Estremadoiro, told Fides news agency that Banegas is clear in his native country. He has no guerrillas or any criminal record in Colombia, he said. Fides report was published by La Razon website.

One tends to believe that the presidential word when denouncing a conspiracy is something too serious to be treated lightly or ignored. It was, at least by some leading Bolivian dailies which apparently decided it wasn´t worth their time and space.

But the President didn´t. At the “why-don´t-you-shut-up” Ibero-American summit in Santiago, he flaunted the picture he considered the supreme evidence of his allegation. The picture shows Goldberg, Dabdoub and Banegas at the Santa Cruz main fair held last September. Mr. Goldberg and Mr. Dabdoub have denied the president´s allegation. But Banegas hasn´t been given a chance to say a word. He is in the Palmasola prison, in Santa Cruz´s outskirts, since early October under charges of leading a gang of street assailants. And one would think he is held incomunicado since no direct word from him has appeared on the dailies.

A couple of weeks ago I was watching a TV news program and almost by pure coincidence heard a prosecutor stating that neither the Interior Ministry nor the Presidency had officially asked for a probe on the allegation and that the case had been dismissed. But the news wasn´t fit to print, apparently. I saw nothing in several dailies the following days. Tonight, another TV news cast said the Bolivian police had no information whatsoever that Banegas had a criminal background in Colombia. That is, he´s not a paramilitary as the Interior Ministry had charged him. Then came Fides news agency report.

If this is the end of the affair, then President Morales owes several explanations…and apologies. To the alleged conspirators, to begin with. And to his Latin American colleagues and King Juan Carlos. A special apology should be given his friend Hugo Chavez. Because it were some complaints against Spain presented by President Morales while addressing the summit that triggered Chavez storming loquacity, which in turn triggered the now-famous “por qué no te callas” of the usually quiet King.

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