LA PAZ – Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera called a session of congress to create a commission that will investigate the awarding of $566 million in government contracts to a Chinese firm that employs a former lover of head of state Evo Morales.
The only item on the agenda Tuesday will be to set up a “special commission” to investigate a number of contracts signed with CAMC Engineering, he told congress in a communique.
Morales, whose leftist MAS party has majorities in both houses, spoke out last Friday to request that congress look into allegations of influence-peddling, a charge that was initially made by journalist Carlos Valverde and was later expanded by the opposition.
CAMC’s marketing manager in Bolivia is Gabriela Zapata Montańo, now 29, who was romantically involved with Morales a decade ago. The president recently disclosed that in 2007 the couple had child who died in infancy.
Lawmakers with the opposition UD party have been calling for a multiparty commission, including observers from civil society and international organizations, to investigate the allegations.
Besides seeking a congressional probe, Morales has asked Controller General Gabriel Herbas to scrutinize the contracts awarded to CAMC.
Morales and Zapata have defended themselves individually, calling this just another move in the “dirty war” being waged in the lead-up to next Sunday’s constitutional referendum, in which Bolivians will decide whether or not the president may run for office again in the 2019 elections.