South American leaders support Morales
The political crisis in Latin America has intensified, with Bolivian president Evo Morales accusing the United States of giving aid to the breakaway rebel region in the east. Morales expelled the American ambassador to the US over the issue, and in turn the US expelled the Bolivian ambassador in Washington. As a show of support, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez expelled the American ambassador to Venezuela. Some expected that other Latin American countries would fall in line behind the US, but instead they have largely expressed support for Morales and condemned the American attempt to interfere in the dispute.
Heads of South American nations lent support Monday night to President Evo Morales of Bolivia, who says opposition leaders are trying to overthrow his government.
Confronting their first crisis, members of the four-month-old Union of South American Countries voted to create a commission to support Morales' democratically elected government, said President Michelle Bachelet of Chile.
She read a nine-point statement on Chilean TV that calls for the support of human rights and democracy and the preservation of Bolivia's territorial integrity. The statement condemns any attempts to overthrow the government.
It also said the new commission would investigate a reported massacre in the Bolivian state of Pando, where violent clashes killed 30 people last week. Those clashes pitted supporters of eastern governors who want autonomy against the central government.
The South American leaders also urged dialogue to address disputes in Bolivia.
Morales attended the emergency meeting of the union, which is modeled on the European Union and aims to politically and economically integrate South American countries.