Bolivia Gets 8th National Police Chief in 6 Years

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Bolivia’s national police chief has been removed after only seven months in the post, in the seventh time that the role has changed hands in the last six years.

Outgoing police chief Victor Maldonado was formally replaced by Alberto Aracena Martinez in a ceremony on December 6, La Razon reported. President Evo Morales said that Maldonado had not provided results as police chief, and complained that he had secretly recorded meetings with government officials.

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Alacena is the eighth chief of police in only six years. Many of the previous holders of the position were removed amid allegations of corruption or links to crime.

Maldonado’s predecessor was accused of allowing people to enter the police academy illegitimately, while the chief before that lasted only two months before he was accused of possessing a stolen car and forced out.

The failure to keep a police chief in the job for any length of time is indicative of Bolivia’s dysfunctional relationship with its police force. At a time when cocaine seizures are spiking, reaffirming the country’s role in regional trafficking of the drug, few Bolivians have much faith in their national police. A study released in February showed that 85 percent of Bolivians living in major cities do not report crime to the police because they do not trust the institution.

The worst scandal to hit the force in recent years was the February 2011 arrest of Rene Sanabria, the former head of the anti-narcotics police, who is now serving a 14-year sentence in a US prison. His fall took down then-police chief Oscar Nina, who was dismissed only a month later.

Police went on strike in June, demanding a pay raise from an average salary which stood at only $194 a month, managing to secure an extra $30 a month.

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