April 1, 1999
Bolivia minister resigns in smuggling scandal

                  LA PAZ, Bolivia (Reuters) -- Bolivia's Labour Minister Leopoldo Lopez
                  resigned on Thursday in another blow to the Andean nation's government
                  shaken by charges of corruption and beef smuggling.

                  Lopez presented his resignation to President Hugo Banzer after an
                  investigation revealed that a truck belonging to him had allegedly been used
                  in the smuggling of meat.

                  "I may have committed errors but not crimes," Lopez told journalists,
                  denying any wrongdoing.

                  An investigation ordered into alleged beef smuggling by Banzer a week ago
                  had found that a truck belonging to Lopez had made several trips between
                  Bolivia and Argentina carrying meat but that the necessary documents for
                  imports were missing.

                  The scandal turned more serious when another truck with the same license
                  plate as Lopez' was stopped. Lopez said he was innocent as the truck had
                  been rented to another company.

                  Last year Health Minister Tonchy Marinkovic resigned amid allegations of
                  misuse of public funds in the purchase of vaccines. The case is still under

                     Copyright 1999 Reuters.