Bolivia: US ambassador persona non grata (updated)
Bolivian government has declared US Ambassador,Philip Goldberg, as persona non grata and asked him to leave the country. The administration of Evo Morales accused Ambassador Goldberg of promoting divisions in Bolivia. In previous occasions, the US Ambassador had been accused of meddling in the Bolivian internal affairs. Since the return from a US trip of oppostion leader Branco Marinkovic last tuesday, there have been protests and looting in Santa Cruz.
In reaction to the Bolvian decision on Wednesday, the US administrition denied it had received any official notification of the declarion of persnona non grata of its current American Ambassador to La Paz.
Mr Morales blamed the US for conspiracy against the state and backing and financing the opposition to his government. In the past two weeks, radical groups in the energy-rich east of Bolivia that are opposed to Mr Morales’ rule have been blocking roads and storming government buildings. The groups are demanding a greater share of the country’s energy revenues generated from the natural gas fields located in their states as well as the suspension of a planned referendum on a new constitution. Bolivian government officials have called the protests a “civil coup”. The US state department described Mr Morales’s charges against the US ambassador as “baseless”. Gordon Duguid, a state department spokesman, said: “Normally these sorts of messages are delivered through diplomatic channels. We have not yet received a diplomatic message and we are trying to establish just what the president’s intentions are.” Relations between Bolivia and the US have been strained since Mr Morales took power in December 2005. Like his ally, Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela, he is a fierce critic of US foreign policy, especially in Latin America, describing it as “imperialistic”. Mr Morales said he had told his foreign affairs minister to write to the US embassy asking Mr Goldberg to “urgently return to his country”.
' The US ambassador to Bolivia has been ordered to leave the country by President Evo Morales. Mr Morales accused Philip Goldberg of "conspiring against democracy" and encouraging the country's break up. A US State Department spokesman said it had received no formal word of the dismissal and described the accusations against Mr Goldberg as "baseless". Bolivia has seen large protests in recent weeks by opponents of Mr Morales' economic and social policies. "The ambassador of the United States is conspiring against democracy and wants Bolivia to break apart," Mr Morales said, in a speech at the presidential palace in La Paz. The president said the foreign minister would inform Mr Goldberg that he "should return to his country at once". Mr Morales did not say what evidence he had to support his allegation but claimed to have the government's backing.
The announcement comes after two weeks of demonstrations by groups opposing Mr Morales.
Protesters have been blocking roads and occupying buildings in eastern regions, which are home to Bolivia's important natural gas reserves. Opposition groups want a greater autonomy as well as more control over revenues of natural gas in their areas. They object to Mr Morales' plans to give more power to the country's indigenous and poor communities, by carrying out land reform and redistributing gas revenues. Earlier this week, the government announced it was sending the military to protect gas fields and infrastructure from demonstrators and guarantee exports to neighbouring countries.