LA PAZ – Bolivia announced Thursday the construction of bases on its borders, especially with Chile, from where a purported 70 percent of smuggled goods are brought into the country, affecting the Bolivian economy.
“The armed forces will construct bases on the borders, especially with Chile,” President Evo Morales said during the swearing-in ceremony of the new authorities tasked specifically with fighting smuggling.
Evo Morales said that 70 percent of smuggled goods enter Bolivia through the border with Chile, while the remaining 30 percent enter through the borders with the country’s other neighbors – Peru, Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina.
Morales added that about $1 billion worth of goods are smuggled into Bolivia every year, representing losses of $350 million per year for the Bolivian state.
The president made these remarks at the Palace of Government in La Paz during the swearing-in ceremony of the vice minister in the fight against smuggling, Res. Col. Gonzalo Rodriguez, a new position linked to the Ministry of Defense.
This move comes as part of a set of measures announced by the president to ramp up the fight against smuggling after two Bolivian army sergeants were killed by smugglers in March.
Rodriguez said that the new vice ministry would have the necessary means and organization to carry out its task, in collaboration with the army, security forces and the prosecutor’s office.
“Working together is the only way to defeat smuggling,” he said.
According to the new vice minister, the Bolivian government’s strategy will focus on “crucial crossing points” for smuggled goods, because “the key is to stop the goods” before they are distributed throughout the country.
Rodriguez said that authorities will have the necessary means to “counteract” smugglers, who often use new and expensive weapons and equipment, including drones, to carry out their activities.