A study showed that 85 percent of the population of four large cities in Bolivia do not report crimes to the police due to a lack of confidence in the force, according to the government.
According to La Razon, Vice-Minister of Citizen Security Miguel Vasquez said that the figure applied to the inhabitants of La Paz, El Alto, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.
Vasquez went on to note that distrust of the police has caused some citizens to resort to vigilantism or “community justice.”
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Bolivia’s police force has faced accusations of corruption at the highest levels, with claims that former police chief General Oscar Nina had dealings with drug traffickers, allegedly protecting Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
In recent months, soldiers have been deployed to support police operations in certain areas of the country hit by high levels of crime, which is constitutionally allowed when the police’s capacity to act has been “surpassed.”
In certain parts of the country civilians have banded together to fight crime, in some cases targeting police accused of corruption and abuse. As a report by the Economist noted, the lynching of suspects is not uncommon in El Alto, which borders capital La Paz, where residents hang scarecrows from makeshift scaffolds to warn away potential criminals (see image).