LA PAZ – The Chinese government donated on Wednesday 570 videocameras to the Bolivian police force to strengthen its ability to monitor the cities of La Paz, El Alto, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz, the Andean country’s most populous urban areas.
Bolivian President Evo Morales thanked Chinese Ambassador Wu Yunshuan at an event at the Government Palace for the “unconditional donation” and said he hopes “to get good use from those cameras for the good of the Bolivian people.”
“Bolivia is small compared to China, but we are two countries who have many programmatic and ideological similarities,” he emphasized.
Bolivian Government Minister Carlos Romero said during the ceremony that the new cameras represent a 30 percent increase – to 2,325 – of such devices in use in the country.
Romero told reporters that in La Paz and El Alto, the country’s two largest cities after Santa Cruz, there are currently more than 400 monitoring cameras in use.
With the donation, that number could double.
In fact, in El Alto, the Bolivian city with the highest murder rate, 270 of the Chinese cameras will be installed.
“The installation of cameras is never going to replace police patrolling,” said Romero, adding that the cameras are intended to contribute to “a comprehensive system” of monitoring.
According to the minister, some 10,572 police cases were filed with judicial authorities thanks to the use of monitoring cameras, and they helped to resolve cases and allow the perpetrators to be punished.
Bolivia and China have several cooperation accords in place to strengthen the Andean nation’s security and in late 2016 both countries’ defense ministers met in Beijing to analyze the possibility for greater cooperation in the military sphere.
In addition, last December China granted a $105 million loan to Bolivia to finance a system of “Citizen Security Command and Control” including cameras, patrols and drones for monitoring criminal activity.