written by: Malia Rulon Herman – Washington Bureau, Asbury Park Press

WASHINGTON — Actor Sean Penn told a congressional committee on Monday that the international community must put pressure on Bolivia to release American businessman Jacob Ostreicher, who has been detained since 2011.

“As an actor, I have been in good movies and I’ve been in bad movies,” Penn told members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations.

“I have never seen a worse movie” as what is being done to Ostreicher, he said.images17

Penn has visited Ostreicher in Bolivia twice and personally reached out to Bolivian President Evo Morales, whom he knew previously.

He told lawmakers on Monday that the Dakar Rally, a well-known off-road motorcycle, truck and car race, is to traverse Bolivia next year and sponsors of the race should require that Ostreicher and others being wrongfully detained in Bolivia be released before it is allowed to proceed.

“It is still possible for the Dakar Rally to exclude Bolivia,” Penn told lawmakers. “International pressure is needed.”

Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, who chaired the hearing, said he would immediately write to the sponsors of the Dakar Rally to ask for cooperation.

“We are very grateful for that recommendation,” he said. “No one should be behind bars ever anywhere who is innocent.”

Ostreicher, an Orthodox Jew from Brooklyn, N.Y., was in Bolivia on behalf of a group of Swiss investors who had sought to grow rice in Bolivia’s eastern lowlands. A plot of land purchased by the agricultural venture was found to have been formerly owned by a drug trafficker.

Ostreicher was arrested in June 2011 and held for a year in one of Bolivia’s most unruly prisons without being charged. He was released last December but remains on house arrest and has not been allowed to leave the country. While detained, he developed symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Ostreicher has been accused of laundering drug money, but no evidence has been presented. In the meantime, $27 million in assets from his rice operation were confiscated by the Bolivian government.

“Perhaps that is the real reason why Mr. Ostreicher is still not home with his family,” Smith said at the start of the hearing, his third on the Ostreicher case.

Ostreicher’s daughter, Chaya Weinberger of Lakewood, N.J., has testified at previous hearings about her father’s failing health, imploring Congress to help.

His wife, Miriam Ungar, told reporters on Monday that while she hopes the hearing and the renewed attention will help, it’s the third such hearing she has attended and her husband remains in Bolivia.

“We do not understand what Bolivia wants,” she said.

Ostreicher has five children and 11 grandchildren, many of whom can’t sleep at night because of the ordeal, Ungar said.

Democratic Rep. Karen Bass of California, the committee’s ranking member, told family members at the hearing that she and others would continue to fight for his release.

“Jacob is not forgotten in the U.S. Congress and we continue to seek an immediate release,” she said.

Mr. Sean Penn at Congressional Hearing in Washington DC May 20, 2013

Mr. Sean Penn at Congressional Hearing in Washington DC May 20, 2013

WASHINGTON — Actor and humanitarian Sean Penn called Monday for the Dakar Rally to cancel its debut run in Bolivia unless an ailing American businessman being held under house arrest there is released.
Organizers of the famed off-road rally announced in March that Bolivia for the first time is on the itinerary for the 2014 race, albeit just for the motorbikes class.
Bolivia is set to become the fourth South American country (after Argentina, Chile and Peru) to be included on the Dakar route since the grueling event was relocated from Africa in 2009.
But Penn, who has personally taken up the case of Jacob Ostreicher, said it would be a mistake to reward Bolivia with the rally if the American is not freed.
Penn personally called on the race’s top official sponsors, including Total, Michelin, Honda and Mitsubishi Motors, to “bring their influence to bear,” stressing that boycott of Bolivia could cost the country millions of dollars in rally-related revenue.
“It is still possible for the Dakar Rally to exclude Bolivia,” Penn told a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on human rights.
“The international pressure could very well be precisely what the Bolivian president needs to be able to finally expel the malignant cancer of corruption that is killing both the Bolivian justice system and the thousands of innocent people like Jacob Ostreicher.”
Ostreicher was detained in 2011 on allegations of money laundering and associating with criminal groups, but was never charged.
He spent 18 months in prison, and since his release in December has been kept under house arrest and not allowed to leave the country.
His wife said the 54-year-old New York native lost more than 50 pounds while in prison and has developed symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Ostreicher “is the victim of an elaborate, high-level government extortion ring that has fleeced approximately $27 million worth of assets from the rice operation that he had been managing,” said Chris Smith, the panel’s chairman, said.
“It’s time Jacob came home to his wife and family and friends,” he said, adding that lawmakers would craft a letter to Dakar Rally sponsors about possibly excluding Bolivia.
“I believe Jacob’s life is in danger,” Penn told the committee.
About two dozen Bolivian officials including judges have been arrested in connection with corruption in the case.(AFP)

Monday 5/20/2013 at 3:00 p.m.




WASHINGTON, DC 20515-6128

Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations

Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), Chairman

 OPEN hearing of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, to be held by the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations in Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building (and available live on the Committee website at www.foreignaffairs.house.gov):

DATE:                       Monday, May 20, 2013

 TIME:                        3:00 p.m.

 SUBJECT:                Advocating for American Jacob Ostreicher’s Freedom after Two Years in Bolivian Detention

WITNESS:                Mr. Sean Penn
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
J/P Haitian Relief Organization

By Direction of the Chairman

The Committee on Foreign Affairs seeks to make its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. If you are in need of special accommodations, please call 202/225-5021 at least four business days in advance of the event, whenever practicable. Questions with regard to special accommodations in general (including availability of Committee materials in alternative formats and assistive listening devices) may be directed to the Committee.


https://www.facebook.com/FreeJacob - Shavuot es una fiesta judía que se produce en el sexto día del mes hebreo de Siván (finales de mayo o principios de junio). En la Biblia, Shavuot es llamado la “Fiesta de las Semanas”, “Festival de la cosecha” y “Día de los Primeros Frutos”.
Shavuot conmemora el aniversario del día en que Dios dio la Torá a la nación entera de Israel se reunieron en el Monte Sinaí. La fiesta es una de las tres fiestas de peregrinación bíblicos.
En la sociedad fundamentalmente agraria del antiguo Israel, los agricultores judíos atarían una caña alrededor de los primeros frutos de maduración de cada una de estas especies en sus campos. En el momento de la cosecha, las frutas identificados por la caña se cortan y se colocan en cestas tejidas de oro y plata. Las cestas de entonces serían cargados en bueyes cuyos cuernos eran dorados y atado con guirnaldas de flores, y que fueron conducidos en una gran procesión a Jerusalén. Como el agricultor y su séquito pasaron por ciudades y pueblos, que irían acompañados de música y desfiles. En el Templo de Jerusalén, cada agricultor presentará sus “primeros frutos” al sacerdote en una ceremonia que siguió el texto de Deuteronomio.
El texto procede a contar la historia del pueblo judío, ya que se exiliaron en el Antiguo Egipto y fueron esclavizados y oprimidos, después de lo cual Dios los redimió, y los trajo a la tierra de Israel.
Mañana se celebra Shavuot tercio de Jacob como prisionero de Bolivia, no puede celebrar con su familia. Jacob se encuentra todavía en el exilio, esclavizados y oprimidos por los que continúan violando sus derechos humanos.

The former legal director, currently in Palmasola prison, publicly apologized to Jacob Ostreicher in a court room on April 4, 2013.  However, he immediately added “I was following orders from my superiors”.  It is clear from Rivera’s statements that he is implicating several Bolivian officials, referring to former ministers Sacha Llorenti, Alfredo Rada, and current Minister Carlos Romero.

Jacob Ostreicher did not accept Rivera’s apology.  He is technically still a prisoner, being held under house arrest without any charges for 23 months.  Jacob Ostreicher and his family watched and listened as Rivera ranted during each hearing. Congressman Chris Smith was in the court room when Rivera threatened to file charges against the judge.  The family also watched Rivera drag the judge into a side room before entering the court room.  When the judge tried to shrug off Rivera’s hand, he grabbed his shirt sleeve and forced the judge into another room. That judge subsequently resigned from the case as did others before and after him. How can Jacob accept Rivera’s apology? The damage this man has done is indescribable, most of which is irreversible.4_4_13El_Deber

One must wonder what kind of a person Rivera is when his best excuse for his viciousness was to follow orders.  Rivera wasn’t the lowest rung on this ladder or the last link in the chain.  He was the Legal Advisor to the Minister of Government. That’s pretty high up.  Fernando Rivera survived several leadership changes in the Ministry and had his own power and his own minions. Who were his real superiors?  How high up does this ladder reach?

Prosecutors asked Fernando Rivera to reveal who gave him those orders.  The request was presented at the resumption of Rivera’s hearing yesterday afternoon, however the detainee avoided going into further details on the issue stating he feared for his safety.  The hearing was suspended shortly after midnight due to the late hour and will commence on Monday morning.


Judge Subieta Declares Prosecutors and Former Judge REBELS

Posted: April 5, 2013 by Friends of Jacob Ostreicher in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

On April 3, 2013 several of the fourteen people, implicated in “The Red”, failed to attend the hearing on unsealing evidence within the extortion case in which Jacob Ostreicher continues to be a victim.  Judge Juan Jose Subieta declared them rebels and ordered arrest warrants for two prosecutors and a former judge.

Among these people were former prosecutors Alvarre La Torre and Javier Cordero and Judge Wilson Arevalo who was suspended from duty.  Additional people that failed to attend were the owners of five storage facilities that kept thousands of tons of rice belonging to Ostreicher,  former director and two inspectors of DIRCABI.

A new hearing was scheduled for April 26, 2013


Denis Racicot Photo by: jornadanet Thursday 21, March 2013

Denis Racicot
Photo by: jornadanet
Thursday 21, March 2013

Denis Racicot,  United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Bolivia, said Wednesday that the agency is following up the case of American businessman Jacob Ostreicher and the web of corruption that was uncovered.  “Our main concern is addressed in this case (Ostreicher) which, of course, we are monitoring.  We have made visits to the prosecution, the judge and also responsible judicial authorities of Santa Cruz, to start monitoring this work.”According to official data, so far, 12 people accused of belonging to the network of corruption have been detained in the prison of Palmasola including former officials.  Racicot explained that he “requested” access to the investigation notebook to assess the progress of the case and the depth of corruption allegations.

Appearing hopeless, Jacob Ostreicher told reporters: “I have proved my innocence for two years. My lawyers are already tired and my family is ready to take my case to the international level because they believe that I can’t get justice in this country”.

It seems the extortion “Network” is still fully intact and many of the operators have still not been identified.  Two hi-level officials, implicated in the Extortion and Corruption Network, have fled the country.  Ariel Rocha, President of Judicial Council in Santa Cruz, fled to Colombia  after being warned by someone, while visiting the United States, that officials in Bolivia were aware of his involvement.  Marcelo Soza, Chief Prosecutor of the terrorism case, fled to Argentina after Senator Gonzales exposed an audio file implicating him and Vice President Garcia’s brother in extortion and bribery.  Last week, the Attorney General conducted an investigation to establish the authenticity of this audio file, where you can hear a person, supposedly Soza, ensuring that the Bolivian Government was aware of the “Network” of extortion.

The UNHCHR Report released in February of 2013 confirms: “The existence of an extortion ring within the judiciary constitutes a serious threat to the credibility of the administration of justice”.  But the report also states: “President Morales made a commitment that the current investigation would be in-depth and identify all those involved, so as to eradicate such practices from State institutions”.  Jacob’s case is mentioned in this report as well as several other cases regarding the lack of due process and violations of human rights in Bolivia.  UNHCHR Report 2013

Currently,  Bolivia is still guilty of violating their own constitution.  By law, an accused has the right to file a request to prosecutors to dismiss a case if there is no evidence against him after 18 months from the start of the investigation.  The defense team filed this request in early December.  Prosecutors must respond within 15 days. To date there has been no response from them.   After 22 months of investigation, Jacob is still under house arrest.  The case is as it was on December 18 when he was released from prison.

Fernando Rivera and Denis Rodas in a Holding Cell.

Fernando Rivera and Denis Rodas in a Holding Cell. photo by: El Deber

Incredibly, the two prosecutors involved in Jacob’s case, Fernando Rivera and Denis Rodas cried to a judge earlier this week claiming that they were only able to talk and  touch their children and family members through bars in prison.  This after keeping Jacob in a prison for 18 months, unable to see his family at all.  Jacob was able to attend the hearing of these two criminals and watched while they tried to fight for their freedom.  We certainly hope Jacob takes comfort in the suffering of his enemies.





On January 18  2013, the Attorney General of Bolivia announced that the first phase of the investigation of the Ostreicher case would be completed in February.  This was comforting to family and friends of Jacob.  Finally, Bolivia would do the right thing and allow an innocent man go home to his family.

To date the case has not moved forward and Jacob is still under house arrest.  Which brings us to the question,  “February of which year, and how many phases”? 

The Attorney General claimed prosecutors were waiting for a translation of a deposition. A translation from Portuguese to Spanish should not take prosecutors  4 months to complete!  He also mentioned, prosecutors were waiting to review computers and telephone data confiscated in 2011.  If they can find it under all the dust it gathered the past 21 months.

It seems that prosecutors are only now starting their investigation into the Ostreicher Case.  During the 18 months of Jacob’s incarceration prosecutors spent  their time conspiring to keep him in prison and threatening everyone and anyone that would try to expose their actions, including Jacob’s wife and his defense attorneys.  They didn’t act alone.  Prosecutors were part of “The Red”.

The leaders of “THE RED”, (network of extortion and corruption) Fernando Rivera and Denis Rodas, were given extraordinary power – Carte Blanche – to act in all structures of the government – Executive Judiciary, Prosecution and Police.

According to the Minister of Government more than 80 complaints were received by victims of different cases in which these 2 legal members acted on behalf of the MOG, including three prior MOG’s. Rivera and Rodas, in coordination with prosecutors, pressured judges and blackmailed these victims.  Both are now held in Palmasola prison in the city of Santa Cruz.

Rivera and Rodas in handcuffs on the way to Palmasola Prison.

Rivera and Rodas in handcuffs on the way to Palmasola Prison.

Rivera and Rodas claim they were just doing there jobs and that their superiors were aware of their performance. Current and former government ministers insist they were unaware of the illegal activities of these two lawyers.  What difference does that make to Jacob and his family. No one in the family cares who was at fault. They care that Jacob is still not free.

It is important that we should not forget that Jacob Ostreicher was illegally arrested on June 3, 2011.  Still, after all this time, the prosecution is indicating that the investigation is ongoing. Let’s not forget that he is still under house arrest and after 21 months the judicial officials have the audacity to claim that he is still under investigation.

In an earlier report the United Nations High Commission of Human Rights announced that they agree that the judicial system is moving very slowly in Bolivia. That report is faulty. The judicial system  is not moving at all.   It seems the players are shuffled like a deck of cards but the victim remains the same.


New Indictments in the Case of American Jacob Ostreicher

Posted: January 3, 2013 by Friends of Jacob Ostreicher in Bolivian News
Tags: , ,


Picture by: EJU.TV

On Thursday January 3, 2013 Judge Zenon Rodriguez and Judge Wilson Arevalo, were indicted for the crime of dereliction of duty in the case of the American, Jacob Ostreicher.

Gustavo Cespedes, one of the major players involved in the Ostreicher Case, and detained in the Palmasola prison, declared last week to the Attorney General that additional people were linked to “The Red”, (the network of extortion) including former Judge Zenon Rodriguez and Judge Wilson Arevalo.

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