Magazine article Geographical

Straight Talk with Mike Bennet, Bolivia's Tallest Mayor; Two Years Ago Mike Bennet, a Gold Mine Owner and Geologist from Stoke, Became Mayor of Porongo, a Municipality in Central Bolivia. Charlie Furniss Speaks to the Man Who Would Be King. (People)

Magazine article Geographical

Straight Talk with Mike Bennet, Bolivia's Tallest Mayor; Two Years Ago Mike Bennet, a Gold Mine Owner and Geologist from Stoke, Became Mayor of Porongo, a Municipality in Central Bolivia. Charlie Furniss Speaks to the Man Who Would Be King. (People)

Article excerpt

How did you get to be Mayor of Porongo?

I came to Bolivia in 1983 with the British Geological Survey; I then stayed to set up a number of gold mines. About ten years ago I bought a farm in Porongo and joined up with several local landowners to build an access road and provide water and medical facilities to the area. During a meeting I was staggered when a colleague put my name forward for mayor.

How have you found your time in office so far?

Very difficult. To begin with the opposition tried to oust me, claiming I hadn't been sworn in properly, and I eventually had to go through the process three times. I inherited a debt of US$250,000 from my predecessor, and during the first year I was barely able to do anything.

Have you encountered much corruption?

Surprisingly, no. In two years I haven't been offered a single bribe, which is very unusual for Bolivia. But I've tried to foster an open style of government, in which my door is always open. …

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