Bolivia urges US aid agency expulsion
Juan Ramon Quintana, an official of Bolivia's Evo Morales government, holds a USAID publication during a news conference in La Paz on August 24, 2011.
A senior Bolivian official has called for the expulsion of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) from the South American state over the agency's 'efforts to destabilize' the La Paz government.
Juan Ramon Quintana, the head of Bolivia's Agency for Development of Regions and Frontiers, said the expulsion of USAID would help “the process of change” in the country.
"The expulsion of USAID should be not only an act of sovereignty, but an uncompromising defense of the process of change," AFP quoted Quintana as saying on Wednesday.
He further pointed out that the expulsion of the American aid agency would show "the same courage" as the 2008 kicking out of the US ambassador to the Latin American country.
Quintana went on to say that the move should be considered as a "self-defense mechanism” for Bolivia.
The latest row between La Paz and Washington has widened after Bolivian President Evo Morales on Sunday blamed the US for interfering in Bolivia's domestic affairs and inciting opposition in the country to protest a key highway construction project through a nature preserve.
Morales said that US diplomats in Bolivia had contacts with leaders of the indigenous-led protest. The US embassy, however, denied Morales' remarks.
Quintana further stated that the contents of letters between USAID -- an arm of the State Department involved in economic and humanitarian assistance -- and indigenous leaders revealed a plot aimed at disrupting “the judicial process" in the South American country.
Morales expelled the former US ambassador to La Paz, Philip S. Goldberg, and a group of American drug agents from his country in 2008, arguing that they were attempting to undermine the Bolivian government.
In the past years, the US Congress-funded National Endowment for Democracy and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) have openly backed and promoted opposition movements in Bolivia.