Bolivia says Washington meddles in its internal affairs

“Doors are open for the US to leave”, said a top official in President Evo Morales administration.

As regional tension grows threating the country’s national integrity, Bolivia accused the United States on Wednesday of meddling in the process of changes being boosted by the Evo Morales government, and demanded that cooperation must adjust to local standards.

At a press conference, Bolivia's Minister of the Presidency, Juan Ramon Quintana, showed evidence of US interference, saying that Washington's economic assistance is handled discretionally and that the "doors are open" for the US to leave if it does not adjust to local politics.

According to the Bolivian minister, of the 130 million dollars that Bolivia received this year, 81 million dollars are "freely available" to the US Embassy in La Paz and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Therefore, he said, 70 percent of that aid is used discretionally, without government control.

With the above in mind, Quintana’s speech sounded as a reply to the offensive of the opposition against Morales. The minister disclosed the names of people and institutions that receive large sums of money from USAID by concept of consultancy work. His comments came just days after Vice President Alvaro Garcia accused Washington of funding "publications, trips, and seminars" to help Morales' opponents.

The minister questioned the transparency of US collaboration and said that from now on, the US Embassy must comply with Bolivian laws and rules or leave the country. He made it clear that the government's stance is not aimed at breaking relations with the United States or the collaboration that the country receives, but it is an invitation to Washington to adjust to the norms and guidelines of the Bolivian State.

In Washington, State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey told reporters that "there is absolutely no truth to any allegation that the U.S. is using its aid funds to try and influence the political process or in any way undermine the government there."

Quintana’s statement, comes as a Constituent assembly aimed to rewrite the country’s constitution is in a stalemate after more than one year of meetings. At the same time, oil-rich lowland provinces have stepped up their pressure over the central government to obtain more automony and threat with secession if their demands are not fulfiled.

Earlier this week, civic leaders of the rebel provinces went on lock-out to protest allegedly increasingly Morales’ authoritarism. Judges from all over the nation went also on strike on Thursday to protest lack of respect to republican principles.

Bolivia receives about US$120 million (€88 million) in annual aid from the United States, but Morales warned this week that "radical decisions" would be taken against foreign embassies that meddle in Bolivian politics.

Hernan Etchaleco.

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov