Global Politics

U.S. ambassador expelled by Bolivia speaks

(Did you encourage the anti-government protests last week?) No way. We meet with all sides and maintain contacts with everybody but in no way were we involved with the violence or encourage it. (So you did meet with the provincial government? Did you also meet with President Morales?) Yes, many times. It's what diplomats do in any country. (There was a sense by Morales that you aid in the region was an attempt to undermine Morales.) Absolutely not. Consider where our aid is directed: at programs to alleviate poverty, to create employment, to humanitarian assistance, and to help build democratic institutions. (Does it bother you that Morales is a close ally to Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez?) Bolivia's affairs are Bolivia's business. However when those affairs interferes with a good relationship with the U.S., which I think is the case with Venezuela, it becomes a problem. We have tried to encourage and engage a constructive relationship with Bolivia. (How does it work when an ambassador is expelled?) I was in the Foreign Minister's office and he got a call from President Morales who said he announced publicly that he was expelling me. I trust the decision came from several motivations: the country is in a difficult moment but I also think there were external factors. (You're implying there was pressure from Venezuela?) There was a near simultaneous announcement about the expulsion in Venezuela. I received a diplomatic note the following day and proceeded to leave on Sunday.

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