Is Vice President Garcia Cracking Down on Dissent in Bolivia?

While respecting their right to criticize government policies, Garcia said foreign-funded nongovernmental organizations needed to understand their place within Bolivian society. 

 Recent statements by Bolivia’s Vice President Alvaro Garcia regarding nongovernmental organisations in Bolivia have triggered off a heated debate on the left. 

 At an Aug. 11 media conference, Garcia accused NGOs of acting like political parties seeking to interfere in Bolivia’s domestic affairs. While respecting their right to criticize government policies, Garcia said foreign-funded nongovernmental organisations needed to understand their place within Bolivian society.
The former guerilla and left-wing academic said: “Does this group of comrades have the right to form an NGO and produce and publish what they want? Of course they have the right, but foreign NGOs do not have the right to come to Bolivia and say they support Bolivia’s development while they do politics and defend the interests of transnationals.”
He highlighted the fact that foreign companies and governments were the biggest backers of NGOs. 
“What do we say to them?” he asked. “Finance in your own country, there is no need for you to come and interfere in our country. Our relationship with foreign governments and companies is very clear: service in function of our policy and usefulness in function of a sovereign state; but not for the purposes of covert political action …” 
Garcia Linera said foreign governments were using NGOs to push policies that sought to stunt Bolivia’s development under the guise of protecting the environment. The vice-president singled out four NGOS that have been among the loudest critics of his government’s environmental policies.
In response, more than 200 academics from across the world signed an open letter expressing concern for what they viewed as “threats, which if they became a reality, would imply a grave blow in terms of restricting civil rights, among them, freedom of expression and association”. They said Garcia Linera's real issue with the four NGOs was their criticisms of his government’s shortcomings.
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