LA PAZ – Bolivian President Evo Morales’s MAS party has named attorney and Justice Ministry official David Tezanos as the nation’s new ombudsman, with the support of 103 of the 144 votes in Congress.
Tezanos, who until his election as ombudsman Friday served as director of the Multinational Service of the Ombud’s Office, was one of the 24 candidates favored to win out of a field of 163 hopefuls, but did not figure in the top four in a congressional commission poll.
Morales presided early Saturday over the swearing-in of Tezanos as ombudsman, and asked him to “observe, process and sanction” his government if it does anything wrong.
David Tezanos has experience as a specialist in criminal law, defending human rights and judicial investigation.
He also notes that his father, Adolfo Tezanos, was a victim of persecution and illegal detentions during the Hugo Banzer dictatorship (1971-1976), which left David with deep feelings about human rights.
The new ombudsman also says that having lost an eye makes him very aware of problems suffered by disabled persons.
This week, when asked by the press about the likelihood of being elected with the ruling party’s backing, Tezanos maintained he was no political agent but rather “a criminal lawyer with a progressive vision about human rights.”
After the vote was taken, opposition Sen. Maria Elba Pinkert of the Unidad Nacional (UN) party said it was to be expected that the governing party would impose its majority, and slammed the choice of a government official as the new ombud.
Pinkert said that with the designation of Tezanos, MAS will have an ombudsman who will defend the ruling party rather than Bolivian citizens.
Tezanos replaces Rolando Villena, who completed his six-year term on Friday, and who was often criticized by Morales for questioning government policies.