|Griselda Pastén Cladia Alarcon|
Federal Attorney Arrest Related to Fraudulent Land Titles
Bolivian Treasury official, Griselda Pastén Cladia Alarcon, was taken into custody by Bolivian police today and charged with defrauding Mennonite settlers of up to $800,000 (US).
Impacted settlements include the Manitoba settlement and Stones II, both located in San José de Chiquitos. According to prosecutor, Angel Alvarez, charges include aggravated fraud, material misrepresentation, falsification, forgery and extortion.
As legal adviser to the National Institute of Agrarian Reform (INRA), Pastén charged the Mennonites $800,000 to consolidate, clear title and transfer 20,000 hectares (about 50,000 acres or 77 square miles) of state owned land.
In March, the Mennonites hired Alberto Toranzo to represent their claims against Pastén to Bolivian authorities.
According to the documents forwarded to national lawmakers in the Bolivian House of Representatives, Pastén seems to have charged for illegal and unnecessary fees and forging President Evo Morales’ signature on two land titles. Included in the documents were bank statements proving the $800,000 transaction.
In March of this year, Radiofides.com quotes Toranzo, “En el año 2010 la señora Claudia Griselda Pastén trabajando en la Dirección Jurídica del INRA nacional visita la ciudad de Santa Cruz y sonsaca en varias oportunidades a dos colonias menonitas, Manitoba y La Piedras alrededor de 450 mil dólares para saneamiento de sus tierras, tengo en mis manos varios depósitos hechos en la cuenta de la señora Claudia Pastén, en tres cuentas de tres Bancos,”
Or roughly, “In 2010, Claudia Pastén, an attorney with the Bolivian INRA, visited Santa Cruz and asked the Mennonites of the Manitoba and The Stones colonies for $450,000 in order to clear title to their land. I have in my hands bank receipts for deposits made into three bank accounts registerd to Ms. Pastén.”
About 650 Russian Mennonite families are impacted by the fraud.
I have been unable to determine whether or not any displacement of those Mennonite families has been demanded or has occurred.