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Prosol 2013: From illegality and irrationality to under-development and subjugation

Nilda Copa |1| and Carlos Villavicencio |2| are attempting a legal tactic to establish a defence for the Departmental Government (and all the officials involved) with respect to the audits of Prosol dating from 2008 which are being carried out at full speed with) Prosol 2013.

Walter Ferrufino
Carlos Villavicencio
Lino Condori

This tactic consists of transferring all the responsibilities to the "community leadership", without concern as to whether it is an indigenous or campesino organization nor as to the existing forms of social organization; in this way, they can exempt from responsibility the Prosol experts, the sectional officials -such as Walter Ferrufino in O'Connor -as well as all the sectional experts.

It is completely untrue that the indigenous or campesino communities have decided the purchases and their development plans. However, now, with this new strategy, if there exist false invoices, purchases which have not been actually made or cattle purchased without registration, those held responsible will be the "community leaders" and not those who obliged them to make the purchases nor those who acted as intermediaries in the cattle transactions - those being, in every case, Prosol experts, officials of the Local Sectional or intermediaries proposed by them (notwithstanding that the Prosol Regulations prohibit intermediaries).

In Prosol 2013, Lino Condori, Walter Ferrufino and their accomplices (and we use this word in a criminal liability sense) have raised the stakes and have approved a regulation that at some point will have legal ramifications.

The Operative Regulations of the Communal Support Programme - Prosol, state that they were enacted with the consent of what is called "parent organizations of the Indigenous Peoples" (an ad hoc term with no legal meaning, but likewise used in the draft law of "consultation" drawn up by the Government). As if this were not already enough to subjugate the indigenous peoples and to try to absolve the officials and politicians of any responsibility, they decided to issue a Departmental Decree 12/2013 which unilaterally amends the regulations and which states that it has been passed thus:

    "By means of a resolution of 18 February 2013, the Trade Union Federation of Campesino Communities of Tarija and its nine offices, the Federation of Campesino Workers of the Autonomous Region of Gran Chaco, the Federation of Campesinos of Bermejo and the parent organizations of the indigenous peoples have offered their support for and agreement with the Operative Regulations of the Departmental Communal Support Programme - PROSOL".

This statement is misleading insofar as it concerns the various indigenous organisations who did not participate in the meeting on that date and, indeed, did not even receive notice of it. Obviously, these deliberate "errors" are sufficient basis to annul both the Regulation and the Decree and this will certainly happen sooner or later, given that this is part of a generalised corrupt behaviour (and therefore falls within the jurisdiction of the anti-corruption law Marcelo Quiroga) as well as being a manifest breach of official duties.

Social-political control and judicial corruption make law enforcement almost impossible and therefore, today, the prosecution of corruption is likewise impossible. Nevertheless, given that the Marcelo Quiroga law does not apply a statute of limitations to acts of corruption, it is likely that at some point in the future, an investigation into and punishment of these acts will be possible.

In addition, it is impossible for an indigenous community, or a campesino community without lands, to exercise its rights before the courts. In practice, they cannot pay any legal professional, apart from the fact that it is extremely difficult to convince these professionals to accept a case involving a indigenous people or poor campesinos - even if their fees are paid in cash. This is independent of the issue as to whether the training of the legal professionals is adequate for the complexity of the cases which involve, civil and administrative law and financial auditing.

With these underlying elements, a campaign of intimidation, extortion and judicial persecution of the indigenous communities has been launched, primarily on the basis of formal errors in completing forms, absence of appropriate minutes in the designated Prosol books (which were never supplied) and, of course, the transfer of all responsibility to the communities, whose members are often illiterate - to whom the Prosol experts brought pre-drafted minutes from Prosol Tarija - and who of course proceeded to purchase what was imposed on them.

In 2011 for example, a quantity of wire was purchased and trailers containing tons of rolls of fencing wire, paid for by Prosol, arrived at O'Connor. Naturally, it was not the communities who ordered these wholesale purchases, nor had they decided that it was vital to their development to buy tons of low quality fencing wire. It is still possible to find in the area discarded rolls of fencing wire as they were never used, among other reasons because the wire was delivered without tools or staples to erect it. Coercion and social-political control is exercised on the bases of subjugation and terror. Fear is one of the factors which in practice limit the decision-making ability of the communities.

The Governor Lino Condori in his Decree 12/2013 decided not only the specific goals for 2013 but also the necessary works. Of course, this was set out without any plan of works and certainly not as part of a communal development plan.

The arbitrarily-fixed priorities were :

    a) Water in its variables: water extraction, water management and the application of technology to water.

    b) Enlargement of the agricultural frontier in its variables: Levelling ground, sustainable land management and rehabilitation of productive lands

    c) Mechanization of agriculture, by means of the purchase of new machinery, subject to the presentation of the Regulations concerning use and administration of the same.

The priorities in a) above are evidently not viable without a technical project which can not be funded with Prosol and which in any event is beyond the means of the average income envisaged for the communities.

The so-called "enlargement of the agricultural frontier" is similarly infeasible, due to the technical aspects (prior topographical and ground etc. studies would be necessary), the legal aspects and the lack of machinery and experts. This proposal also conceals the assaults being made against indigenous lands and specifically, the current assault being carried out by Walter Ferrufino in the TCO Itika Guasu. What is being attempted here is to expel the indigenous population on the premise that they do not have any production and that therefore, they should be replaced by unscrupulous adventurers and ranchers without land such as the said Mr Ferrufino.

In practice the only feasible proposal is the purchase of machinery because theoretically it does not require any prior study, but merely the decision of the indigenous or campesino community on the conditions we explain below.

A practical exercise

Whether or not the funds which would be attributable to an indigenous community are consistent with the objectives imposed on it has not even been taken into consideration (for example, whether an assumed purchase of machinery is feasible in financial terms)

For example, if a community has 20 families, the funds attributable to the community would be (6,000 Bs x 20 families) 120,000 bolivianos (the equivalent of US$17,367).

Their decision is therefore what machinery they can buy for this amount and if they wanted to buy a tractor at current market rates, they would find that it costs more than US$50,000. Of course, they would not be able to buy it given that they do not have the guaranteed income to take on a loan, nor does such a loan exist in the market when it comes to indigenous peoples or campesinos without lands. Besides, the purchase must be effected within one accounting year. This is because although it is theoretically possible to present multi-year projects, the purchase itself cannot be the subject of a multi-stage project.

But Villavicencio's experts also require that they obtain three offers and that the purchase be of the cheapest of the three. Independently of the fact that it is irrational to require the purchase of the "cheapest tractor" without consideration for the quality or the long-term maintenance costs and/or the manufacturer's warranty, or the useful life of the model, manufacturers' representatives do not even have commercial representation in Tarija to enable the communities to obtain three quotes or pro forma invoices. This could only be done in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, which is beyond the reach of the communities because Prosol does not provide the costs of managing the purchases. Thus it would be impossible to travel to see and inspect the machinery; nor would it be possible to enlist an (independent) expert to advise them.

This bureaucratic madness is dealt with by an accounting ploy that is clearly beyond the parameters of the "generally acceptable", and of course, not legal. The experts inform them (the communities) that a pro forma invoice of a (manufacturing) company is not valid, and that the only acceptable invoices would be those signed by the person who is making the offer. Thus, in obvious bad faith, they manage to ensure that the sale is not made by a manufacturer but by a "close" intermediary, that is to say a corrupt official of the sub-government or a crooked intermediary.

In other words, if a community wants to buy a tractor of the quality and with a guarantee such as that offered, for example, by John Deere (like the model 5725, the price of which in Santa Cruz de la Sierra is about US$50,000) the pro-forma invoice of the franchise holder in Bolivia would not be needed, but a pro-forma invoice signed by a physical person. What is yet more serious: The firms or individuals offering the machinery, according to the approved regulations, are never responsible for the machinery (contrary to applicable commercial and civil law in Bolivia), so at one stroke they have eliminated the possibility that the manufacturers are the exclusive suppliers. In this way they open the door to the purchases of "knock-off" ("chutos") tractors, without papers or simply bought from the junk heap in Paraguay, Argentina or Brazil, obviously without any kind of guarantee and normally with no legal documents whatever.

But the madness does not end there. Prosol also does not foresee funding on the basis of the calculation of the useful life, nor for tractor maintenance, repairs or insurance; nor, of course payments for the tractor driver, for the fuel, or a calculation of the agricultural surface area. Neither does it envisage funding to train tractor drivers or machine operators.

None of this is even addressed in the regulations nor in the specific project. In fact, these are costs which Prosol would consider "irregular" and "illegal" and therefore would end up a target of the prosecutor's office as a result of the audits pursued by the Governor Lino Condori.

It is hardly necessary to add that a tractor without its implements is not of much use either, unless Walter Ferrufino, Lino Condori and Villavicencio want to organise tractor races as some of the rich ranchers in Argentina do.

This exercise may seem absurd but it is based on a real case of an indigenous community that was induced to buy a tractor, a purchase that was approved by the Communal Assembly as a result of the pressures from the Prosol experts, without consideration for any of the above arguments and precisely in the Prosol 2013 year.

This way of promoting programmes leads to the perpetuation of economic structures of subsistence and subjugation. They can only be understood in the context of a "Theory of Underdevelopment" and not as part of a long term programme to emerge from this situation.

It permits the maintenance of a model of social political control based on cooption, corruption, fear and subjugation.

This is as far as it can be from what is envisaged in the Political Constitution of the State which today, at least for the indigenous peoples, is not worth the paper it is written on.

[1 USD = 6.90964 BOB]

[paragraph 11 was modified on 12 September 2013]

[Source: By Irandey Tupapire, correspondent for Radio Nizkor in Guaye, 07Sep13]

The beneficiaries of Prosol are defined by the community leadership

The Secretary for Community and Campesino Development and the Plural Economy of the Regional Government, Nilda Copa, stated that it is not the case that there are restrictions concerning the Support Programme (Prosol) but there is a rigorous control of the requirements which must be submitted by the community members to qualify as beneficiaries.

The Secretary clarified that the established documents must be completed, given that the technical team make observations which must be complied with in order for payments to be made, guided by the statutes of community leadership. For this reason, it is this group that decide whether or not to recognise a member and, to benefit from the programme, it must be shown that the member is leading an organic life as there are internal organisational controls.

Copa stated that "there are no preferences" to the campesinos under Prosol but stressed that the completed documentation is required, in accordance with the law which provides that all requirements must be complied with. For this reason, some of the payments have been suspended.

She stressed that the management of Prosol is the operating level which receives proposals from the communities with the support of the Secretary of the Environment and Water on those matters within its jurisdiction. In addition the Secretary of Community and Campesino Development also assists, monitoring the mechanization and enlargement of the agricultural frontier.

She indicated that along they are currently working with the technical team on the observations in order to improve the drafting of the documents which beneficiaries must submit. They are also receiving projects based on the communal plan of each region, which must be based on three areas: water, mechanization of agriculture and enlargement of the agricultural frontier.

[Source: El Pais, Tarija, 07Sep13]


1. Secretary for Community and Campesino Development and the Plural Economy of the Regional Government. [Back]

2. Carlos Villavicencio, Director of PROSOL (a departmental grant initially aimed at helping campesino and indigenous communities with agricultural production and related expenses) between April 2012 and October 2013. [Back]

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