Bolivia suspended DEA operations

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President Morales: "There were DEA agents who worked to conduct political espionage and to fund criminal groups so they could launch attacks on the lives of authorities, if not the president." (Picture by Javno.com)

The deteriorating relations among the leftist government of Bolivian president Evo Morales and Washington came to its worst moment last week when he accused the Drug Enforcement Agency of the Unites States (DEA) of conspiracy against his government. He ordered the suspension of any activity in the Bolivian territory, a country that is enlisted as the third world producer of cocaine after Peru and Colombia. Morales asked UNASUR, the Association of the South American nations, to replace what DEA is doing in the region in the international fight against drugs.

President Morales gave his announcement from Chimoré, a locality in the middle of the coca region, where DEA promised to eradicate more than 5,000 hectares of coca plants per year. According to the president, it was one of the ways the US organization was planning to destabilize his mandate.

Morales went further saying that DEA was financing groups of opposition, the same ones that tried a coup d’etat last August and September and that caused the expel of the American Ambassador. He said that DEA was supporting the violent take over of the airports by opposition protesters in the Eastern region and the states of Santa Cruz, Pando, Beni and Tariha, in order to avoid the arriving of the top authorities from La Paz. President Morales said that it is his duty to defend the sovereignty of his people and for this reason he would suspend by the moment any activity of the US agency in Bolivia, according to the Peruvian newspaper Crónica Viva (ref. “Presidente de Bolivia suspende operaciones de la DEA”, 11.01.2008.)

Morales and DEA, a broken love history

But relations between President Morales and the US agency were going bad through the year. Last August the government removed the authorization of flights of DEA crafts on the Bolivian space, but, according to the president, the agency did not follow such decision and it continued with its air operations. He accused a DEA official of spying, and said that he posed as a diplomatic in order to get information on the travels of the president to the northern state of Beni, the place where it was planned the coup d’etat. DEA, according to Morales, had some houses of security that were actually centers of spying.

Recently, Washington suspended tax preferences to Bolivia stating that the South American nation was doing very little in the fight against drug trafficking. President Morales said that it was actually a political motivated decision of Washington and cited a report of the United Nations in which it is said that Bolivia is the most dedicated country in this international matter. More than 21 hectares of coca plantations have been eradicated this year by the Bolivian programs, according to the president words, while several loads of cocaine have been seized by the Bolivian especial forces against drug mafias.

However, Bolivia is considered a country where the Peruvian drug is sent as a platform in its way to the international markets of the illegal product.

At the other side, a senior US State Department said to Los Angeles Times, who declined to be named, (ref. “Bolivia halts U.S. agents anti-drugs operations”, McDonell Patrick, 11.02.2008) that the accusation is “false and absurd” and that decision will increase the production and shipped of drugs from Bolivia.

The cocaine triangle of the Andes is made mainly by Colombia, Peru and Bolivia in what regards production, although the nets of the mafia covers the whole Western hemisphere. USA has invested billion of dollars trying to stop production and shipping of cocaine to its territory, especially in the the three Andean countries. While Colombia and Peru have been rather collaborative in the programs of DEA, the leftist government of La Paz has reacted against the American influence recently.

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