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Bolivian armed forces reinforces fight against fuel smuggling

La Paz, Jun 14 (Prensa Latina) The Bolivian authorities maintain military controls at service stations against the illegal loading of fuel, said Deputy Minister of "Fight Against Smuggling" Pedro Vargas.

“We are going to control functionaries at some service stations who are illegally loading transport vehicles with double tanks,” said Vargas, who described that these individuals have been loading 500 liters of fuel and repeatedly, during 15 days, diverting them to another activity.

“We have seen that service stations workers load up undocumented vehicles, vehicles that do not have the identification document,” the Deputy Miniser emphasized in statements to the Bolivia TV state channel.

Vargas is responsible for the control of operations in the municipality of Yacuiba (Tarija) on the border with Argentina, where military presence contributes to State policies in guaranteeing fuel supply, he explained. “We have seen irregular situations at service stations. Although military presence is not the technical part (…), it has become very important,” he explained, and stressed that control in border regions will prevent fuel from leaving the country and will avoid shortages as a result of speculation.

Minister of Defense Edmundo Novillo said that “the troops are there to support and in no case to repress (…)”, and maintained that he saw a positive attitude on the part of the citizens in relation to this measure.

Controls on the sale of diesel and gasoline are executed and coordinated with the National Hydrocarbons Agency, the Armed Forces and Bolivian Fiscal Oil Fields.

“Every effort is being made to guarantee fuel to the citizens (…) and our Armed Forces are contributing to this,” Novillo confirmed in an interview on TV, and explained that these actions will be temporary and military personnel will be withdrawn once the speculation ends.

The minister criticized the political plan to “instate a sense of acute crisis and generate concerns and uncertainty in the population, which, in the face of rumors of blockades and border closures, seeks to supply and store, which would cause excess demand,” and warned that sectors with political desires to build a conspiratorial process against the Government have taken advantage of this type of speculation.