September 11, 2012

Why Does the US Denies Bolivia's Request to Extradite Goni

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The government of Evo Morales has been, since 2007, requesting the US administration to hand former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada to Bolivia because he is being accused of Genocide by that government. The Morales government wants to bring Sanchez de Lozada to a court of law to make him responsible of the 67 deaths in a violent confrontation between police forces and demonstrators back in October 2003.

Formally, the US administration has not been willing to give any particular reason for the denial. However, the article below cites an anonymous source who is very familiar with the case who does speak about the reasons.
Trying to shed some light on what’s going on behind the Obama administration denial of the request, ABC News granted anonymity to a source familiar with the matter to give some perspective. The source said there were serious technical problems with the Bolivian extradition request.
 The source essentially says that the Bolivian application is faulty and contains little to none evidence. The implication is that the Bolivian lawyers have not been doing a good job at formulating the application in accordance to the guidelines. A more explicit implication, expressed by the source, was that the Morales government did not want to really extradite Sanchez de Lozada but it just wanted to further demonize the US administration to keep the support solid at home.

These are, I think, two legitimate questions. First of all, why are Bolivian lawyers not able to put together a fact-solid, well argumented application? Personally, I don't think it has to do with them not being able to do that. I would argue further that, to the contrary, Bolivian lawyers must be more than capable to formulate such an application. Some of them might have even studied in the US and thus be familiar with US law.

Secondly, is the Bolivian government rather trying to maintain its popularity high at home by fueling the anti-American feeling they have been propagating? I find the Morales government is certainly capable of that. In fact, there is no denying that the discourse against capitalism and imperialism and Americanism has paid large dividends for Morales. Anti-American feelings run very high in Bolivia in current times.

But, at the same time, we should not forget the other side of the coin. For one, the US government does not have any incentive as of now to cooperate with the Bolivian government. So, why should the US administration give course to the Bolivian petition? Especially, considering that Sanchez de Lozada has been a close ally of the US and, by any means, should be discarded that Sanchez de Lozada will make an attempt to come back to power in Bolivia. This, even if it is just to re-write how history will remember Sanchez de Lozada.

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