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Leftist Group Blamed For Bombing Attack On Shultz

August 9, 1988

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) _ Investigators today blamed the leftist guerrilla group Comando Simon Bolivar for the bombing attack on Secretary of State George P. Shultz.

The group, which described itself as ″anti-imperialist″ in calls to news agencies claiming responsiblity for Monday’s blast, also was behind at least two other bombings in Bolivia since April 1987.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Guillermo Bedregal said both the attack on Shultz’s motorcade and a dawn bombing at the U.S. Embassy commissary in La Paz were the work of cocaine traffickers.

The Native National Force of Pablo Zarate Wilca, a previously unknown group, also called reporters to say it was behind Monday’s bombings, but officials discounted that claim.

Bolivian investigators offered no elaboration on why they gave credit to the claim of responsibility from the Comando Simon Bolivar group. They would only say the group carried out other bombings and bank robberies.

A remote-controlled bomb damaged three cars in Shultz’s 11-vehicle motorcade Monday as he drove to La Paz from the airport. The blast ruptured a tire and blew out three windows, including one next to Shultz’s wife.

No injuries were reported in the roadway blast or in the bombing at the U.S commissary.

Police said the roadway bomb, believed to be several sticks of dynamite, was set off by someone on a hill overlooking the road seconds after Shultz’s car passed. The blast tore up pavement and threw rocks across the road.

On Monday night, Shultz praised Bolivian efforts he said have put drug lords on the run. The secretary of state, whose visit intended in part to express U.S. support for anti-drug efforts, said he was not ″intimidated by the tactic of using violence to try to scare government officials.″

After giving a talk entitled ″Winning The War Against Narcotics″ at a La Paz hotel, Shultz left through a back exit under extremely tight security and was driven to the airport for a flight to Costa Rica.

This time, the airport road was cordoned off.

The 67-year-old Shultz has been secretary of state since 1982. He has traveled widely but has never before been attacked.

In his talk to government officials and business leaders, Shultz praised Bolivia’s cooperation with the United States in recent anti-drug efforts.

He said Congress ″has looked at your law and your performance with great interest, and I trust that your steady commitment will convince the members of our legislative body of your serious intentions. To sum up, the drug traffickers are in trouble in Bolivia.″

Last month, Bolivia passed a law that declares 90 percent of coca plantations in the country illegal and imposes stiff penalties on coca producers and traffickers.

It also captured Roberto Suarez Gomez, who the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration called one of the world’s leading cocaine traffickers. Suarez Gomez is serving a 15-year prison sentence.

U.S. economic aid topped the agenda in meetings with Shultz, said Planning Minister Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada. He said Shultz had promised to speed up disbursements of funds Congress has approved.

The United States has allocated $75 million in aid to Bolivia for fiscal 1988. Of that amount, $15 million is earmarked for narcotics interdiction and crop substitution efforts.

But Bedregal says Bolivia needs at least $120 million a year to effectively combat the drug industry, which brings in up to $500 million a year, compared to $470 million for all legal exports combined.

Aside from funding for development programs in the main coca producing region, the U.S. government has an estimated 40 special forces and Navy troops as well as border patrol and DEA agents in Bolivia.

They have trained and equipped 650 Bolivian anti-narcotics police and assisted in raiding cocaine processing pits in the Chapare, where 80 percent of Bolivia’s cocaine is produced.

Police, however, must often attack cocaine processing labs using World War II-vintage carbines while traffickers have sophisticated automatic weapons.

Shultz said the ″the United States, as the biggest consumer of drugs in the world, has a special responsibility in this battle.″

″The pirates and warlords of the drug business have fought you at every step, with money, intimidation and violence,″ he told the gathering. ″But there can be no question that Bolivia has made the right choice. We salute you for that choice.″

U.S. cooperation with government efforts to fight the drug trade has angered the 350,000 farmers - from among Bolivia’s 6.7 million population - who depend on coca leaf farming and cocaine production for a living.

They say the U.S. and Bolivian governments are not doing enough to assist in the transition to other crops.

Shultz, on a 10-day, nine-country Latin American tour, flew to Bolivia from Brazil. His tour began Aug. 1 in Guatemala City and is scheduled to end Wednesday in Ecuador.

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