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An End to the Bolivian Nightmare

Machla Abramovitz

When Jacob Ostreicher’s plane landed somewhere on US soil on December 15, it brought an unexpected and mysterious end to his 30-month Bolivian nightmare. Mishpacha’s Machla Abramovitz, who once played an “insider’s” role in the flurry of diplomatic activity to spring Ostreicher, spoke with family members and strips away the veil of corruption that permeates Bolivian society and led to both Ostreicher’s incarceration and flight to freedom.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A week after Jacob Ostreicher returned to theUnited States, his family expressed extreme gratitude for his freedom, yet is still overwhelmed.

“We were waiting for this, but didn’t think it was going to happen,” Ostreicher’s sister Fraidy Schwartz told Mishpacha. “It was all very sudden.”

Ostreicher’s physical health is better than expected, she says, but he is traumatized. “We have to continue praying that Hashem helps him get well.”

Ostreicher, 54, was a managing partner in a rice-growing venture inBoliviawhen authorities arrested him on June 3, 2011, on suspicion of money laundering and doing business with drug traffickers.

Despite the fact that no formal charges were ever brought against him, Ostreicher spent 18 months in the infamous Palmasola prison inSanta Cruzfollowed by a year under house arrest.

None of this was surprising in a country such asBolivia, where bribery and “facilitation payments” to government officials are institutionalized. 

GAN Integrity Solutions cited Transparency International, who noted that Bolivians perceive the judiciary/legal system to be the most corrupt sector in the country and quoted a 2008 Latino-barómetro report widely acknowledging that court decisions can be influenced by the use of bribes.


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