While on July 27 the Minister of Justice and Transparency stated that the case against Pablo Solón and Rafael Archondo for alleged crimes of “Illegating Appointments,” “Failure of Duties” and “Anticipation and Prolongation of Functions” was turned over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Monday, August 21 at 2:45 pm Pablo Solón was summoned to testify to the Public Prosecutor’s Office. In his statement, Solon issued 103 official letters or notes from senior officials and officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Ambassador Rafael Archondo Quiroga, Alternate Permanent Representative of the Bolivian Mission to the UN. These hundred notes undoubtedly show that Archondo was the Alternate Permanent Representative and that the word “ambassador” was widely used when addressing higher officials. The notes are mostly from the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Juan Carlos Alurralde, and other Deputies of Foreign Affairs, many ad interim at the time, Fernando Huanacuni Mamani, Esteban Elmer Catarina and José Crespo Fernández. Other communications with the same titling of “Ambassador” were underlined in the notes referring to correspondence from the Chief of Staff of the Chancellor, the State Ceremonial Directorate, the General Directorate of Administrative Affairs and the General Directorate of Legal Affairs (see list below).
The dossier of notes and other proofs annexed to Solon’s declaration proved that Rafael Archondo Quiroga was indeed the Alternate Permanent Representative of the Mission of Bolivia to the UN and that Pablo Solón only introduced him to officials at the United Nations. They also show that, under common law referred in Bolivia as “usos y costumbres”, the term “ambassador” was used as a word of distinction to refer to people who exercised high diplomatic duties.
In these notes, in many cases, the high officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs use the term “ambassador” or “Amb.” to refer to their own person because, by common law, they were called “ambassadors,” although they did not have an express designation as such, as were the cases of many deputies and the then Director of State Ceremonial. This form of common law was subsequently regulated by Law No. 465 of the Foreign Service at the Plurinational State of Bolivia on December 23, 2013. Articles 7, 8 and 9 point that both the Minister, Deputies and the General Directors in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have the rank of Ambassador. In other words, until the end of 2013, many of the people who held these positions used the term “ambassador” because in their daily practice they related to foreign ambassadors even though there was no formal ambassadorial designation by the President of Bolivia.
Additionally, Pablo Solón presented a list of Permanent Representatives and Alternate Permanent Representatives to the UN that Bolivia has had from 2004 to 2016, based on the records of the UN Protocol Department, to demonstrate how both representatives held posts and to explain that both were responsible for important roles and parallel functions, and that the alternate is not only a substitute. Likewise, he showed that Rafael Archondo was not the only Alternate Permanent Representative who was called “ambassador” and that the Permanent Representatives appointed by the President and ratified by the Senate are classified as Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.
Furthermore, Pablo Solón stated that there was no fraud or economic damage to the State in the alleged acts of which they were accused them as evidenced by the Deputy of the Fight against Corruption. At the end of his statement, he expressed surprise that no authority questioned the actions of his person or Rafael Archondo for more than six years, and that it is striking that this case is submitted to criminal proceedings without an internal process beforehand inside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.