American Continues Hunger Strike in Bolivia
An American has been jailed in Bolivia without any formal charges for 11 months. To bring attention to his case, the American, Jacob Ostreicher started a hunger strike about a month ago. Ostreicher became caught up in a criminal investigation that was linked to drug money and last June was arrested on money laundering charges.
However, his wife and attorney said they proved that the money’s source was legitimate and wonder what other forces might be keeping the American behind bars. The Brooklyn native, since he was arrested, has had 15 or more hearings scheduled, but only three have taken place.
After the judge listened to the defense during one of the hearings last year, he ordered that the 53-year old Ostreicher be released on bail. His family immediately paid the bail, but before he could leave the prison grounds, the same judge rescinded the decision unexpectedly.
Recently the case was handed over to a new judge, but there has not been any movement in the case for months. Last month, the American started his hunger strike in hopes that it would kickstart the legal system in the country and rally some support back in the states. His supporters in New York in front of the Bolivian consulate held a demonstration in May.
The story behind his arrest is a complex one. He made an investment in 2008 in a rice operation in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz. He traveled on numerous occasions from New York to see the rice project he invested in. Then word came the manager of the project was tied to drugs and the land, as well that the project was located on. He eventually became a suspect himself and later was arrested and jailed.