26 February 2017

First Black General Becomes Bolivia’s National Police Chief

First Black General Becomes Bolivia’s National Police Chief

LA PAZ – Gen. Abel de la Barra, who became the first black commander of the Bolivian National Police on Monday, said he would establish a “national decolonization directorate” within the agency.

President Evo Morales administered the oath of office to De la Barra after signing an executive order promoting him to the rank of general.

De la Barra said he now felt he was “a visible Afro-Bolivian” and honored his ancestors, noting that they “were uprooted from their lands in Africa and brought to America in dismal conditions, marking the start of hundreds of years of slavery.”

The new National Police chief said he would strive to transform the agency in accordance with Morales administration guidelines.

Officials envision “decolonization” as a process to advance the Andean country’s national security doctrine.

De la Barra said he began his career “as a beat cop” in the streets.

“So, it will not be strange if I set an example by working the streets,” De la Barra said.

De la Barra’s appointment meets National Police institutional procedures on appointing the best officer as chief, Morales said.

The president said that before he took office, the US Embassy had a say on the selection of the National Police chief and deputy chief.