Sunday, November 02, 2008

Bolivia expels DEA for regime change operations

When Evo Morales was elected as Bolivia's president he made news because he was the first fully indigenous head of state in nearly 500 years, but he's making news again because he has ordered the DEA to get suspend all operations in Bolivia, on the charge that they were supporting his opposition using espionage techniques and inciting riots.

Bolivia's president has suspended the work of agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), accusing them of spying inside Bolivia.

Speaking in the coca-producing region of Chimore in central Chapare province on Saturday, Evo Morales said the US agency had supported the opposition and encouraged political violence that left 19 people dead.

"From today all the activities of the US DEA are suspended indefinitely," Morales said.

"There were DEA agents that were doing political espionage ... financing criminal groups so that they could act against authorities, even the president."

He also directly accused DEA officials of disrupting government activities during the unrest in five of the country's nine departments in September by "funding civic leaders with the aim of sabotaging airports in eastern Bolivia ... to prevent visits from officials". |Bolivia halts US anti-drug efforts - Al Jazeera|
I've no idea if any of this is true, but it doesn't strike me as implausible. Given the total lack of respect for the rule of law evinced by the Bush-Cheney administration, I wouldn't doubt for a moment that they would try to effect regime change in Bolivia.

On the other hand, I wouldn't put it past Morales to use this as a pretext (true or false) to try to stop the US's war on drugs from further damaging his country.

And good for him. The war on drugs is an incredibly misguided, harmful policy in my view.

Mother Jones also has some background on these issues, with an article, a photoessay and a documentary video.

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