Bolivia President Morales wants to see stolen trucks seized by Chile

BY Kendall Thiele / The Santiago Times Staff

SANTIAGO – Bolivia’s President Evo Morales has requested the Bachelet government to present the trucks and goods allegedly stolen by two Bolivian military men and seven customs officers, who were detained Carabineros de Chile last week.

“We are asking, as Bolivians, that the nine trucks allegedly stolen by customs and military officers be presented. We want to know what it contained. I would not want to think that these acts of provocation are covering up police and government corruption in Chile,” said Morales in a statement to the Bolivian FBI over the weekend.

The president also tweeted: “Chile Authorities: Where are the 9 trucks loaded with merchandise? What did they contain? Smuggling? Are there detainees? We require you to report.”

Chilean authorities had arrested nine Bolivian officials on the accusations of theft, illegal possession of weapons and illegal entry into national territory.

The incidents were recorded on Sunday noon (March 19), when two soldiers and seven officials of the Bolivian national customs reportedly detected three trucks of Chile with goods smuggled in Bolivian territory.

Two trucks fled, according to Bolivian authorities, but the third was arrested in order to take it to the nearest police station. At that time, settlers and police crossed the border, arrested Bolivians and drove them to Colchane, the officials added.

Following the incident last week, the Bolivian authorities summoned Chile’s consul general Manuel Hinojosa and demanded immediate release of its nationals.

Although there is no official statement from Chile in response to the Bolivian president’s request, the Michelle Bachelet-government maintains the Bolivians were detained for committing crimes.

“It was in Chilean territory, committing crimes (…), a robbery of a truck with products and the intention to steal several more trucks,” said the head of state at the Palacio de La Moneda (Coin Palace) while talking to journalists.