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article imageBolivian President Evo Morales to expel USAID

By Ken Hanly     May 3, 2013 in Politics
La Paz - Bolivian President Morales is expelling the US Agency for International Development. He accuses the organization of attempting to impose its own will on the country and of fomenting protests against his government.
The organization has been in Bolivia since 1964. Morales promised that the organization will be given a reasonable amount of time to suspend their remaining operations. The US State Department expressed regret at the decision.
The state-run ABI news agency reported Morales said: "USAID is out; I ask the foreign minister to immediately communicate with the U.S. Embassy". According to USAID's Bolivia website it carries out health, sustainable development and environmental programs in Bolivia. The latest budget figures given were $26.7 million in 2011.
A spokesperson for the US State Department, Patrick Ventreil said allegations that USAID meddled in Bolivian affairs were baseless. Operations in Bolivia were said to employ 9 Americans and 37 Bolivians.
The US and Bolivia have been at odds since September of 2008 when the countries expelled each others ambassadors. A month later, Morales expelled the US Drug Enforcement Administration. Morales is a supporter of the cultivation of cocoa plants, source for cocaine.
Earlier, the director of a Bolivian government development agency, Juan Quintana said:"The expulsion of USAID should be ... an act of sovereignty". Quintana claimed that USAID promoted a march by indigenous people on La Paz, the capital. The group were protesting the construction of a highway through a national park in which indigenous communities live. Morales himself of an indigenous background projects himself as a protector of indigenous people..
Morales has often been critical of the US and sometimes his rhetoric goes a bit far. Last October, he said that relations with the US Embassy in La Paz had become like a turd. Morales later said he regretted the remarks.
The expulsion of USAID may also be in part a reaction to a statement about Latin America by John Kerry who told lawmakers that "the Western Hemisphere is our backyard. It's critical to us." In the US this may simply mean that Latin Americans are neighbors but to Morales and no doubt to many in Latin America its harks back to the Monroe Doctrine. Morales said that although a small country Bolivia deserved respect and should not be called the back patio of the US. Kerry said that he only meant that North and South American countries were neighbors of the US.
Although not called the Monroe Doctrine until later, the legislation was passed on Dec. 2, 1823 and decreed that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or intervene in countries of either North or South America would be considered acts of aggression and require US intervention. At the time, many nationalist South American leaders applauded the doctrine as it gave them an ally against European colonialists. However, over the years the doctrine became more of a declaration that North and South America were vital US spheres of interest justifying intervention often against leftist radical movements or any other movement threatening US and local elite interests:
Critics of the Monroe Doctrine, such as Noam Chomsky, argue that in practice the Monroe Doctrine has functioned as a declaration of hegemony and a right of unilateral intervention over the Americas: a sphere of influence “to leave America for the Americans” ....Many Latin American popular movements have come to resent the "Monroe Doctrine", which has been summarized there in the phrase: "America for the Americans".
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