Bolivian President Evo Morales has said the United States has become a "refuge for criminals" in response to Washington’s refusal to extradite a former Bolivian president wanted in connection with the deaths of 63 people.
"Yesterday (Thursday), a document arrived from the United States, rejecting the extradition of people who have done a lot of damage to Bolivia," Morales said in a speech in La Paz on Friday, Reuters reported.
Bolivia’s Supreme Court is seeking the extradition of former Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada so he can be tried for complicity in the deaths of 63 people during an army crackdown on anti-government protesters in October 2003.
The 82-year-old was twice elected president of Bolivia. He resigned during the violence of 2003, and fled to the US, along with several of his ministers, 13 months into his second term as president.
Bolivia has been demanding the extradition of Sanchez de Lozada and his ministers since 2003.
Morales said the US tried to justify its rejection of Bolivia’s extradition request by saying that a civilian leader should not be tried for crimes committed by the military.
Morales, who became the first indigenous leader of Bolivia in nearly 500 years in January 2006, called the US a "paradise of impunity" and a "refuge for criminals."
He has said that Latin American countries are in rebellion against the US after years of domination by their northern neighbor.
"It's yet another display of the US government's double moral standard," said Rogelio Mayta, a lawyer who represents victims of the 2003 bloodshed.
Bolivia’s opposition leaders also demanded that Sanchez de Lozada be extradited and denounced the US ruling.