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Bolivia accuses US aid of aiding opposition

Bolivia accuses US aid of aiding opposition

The government stepped up its criticism of U.S. aid on Wednesday, with a top Cabinet official alleging the funds are used to support opposition to President Evo Morales' sweeping leftist reforms.
Bolivia receives about $120 million (euro88 million) in annual aid from the United States, but Morales warned this week that "radical decisions" would be taken against foreign embassies that meddle in Bolivian politics.
"The Bolivian people have decided to undertake a process of profound change," Presidential Minister Juan Ramon Quintana said Wednesday. "But these changes are being harassed and interfered with by the effects of U.S. assistance."
He added that "if U.S. cooperation does not adjust itself to the politics of the Bolivian state, the door is open" for it to leave the country.
On Sunday, Vice President Alvaro Garcia called for a law giving the Bolivian government control over all foreign aid programs, accusing Washington of funding "publications, trips, and seminars" to help Morales' opposition develop its "ideological and political resistance."
David Snider, a USAID spokesman in Washington, said Bolivian assistance is not directed toward any political ends.
"We don't choose sides," he told The Associated Press.
Morales has moved to nationalize Bolivia's oil and gas industry, proposed a land reform and is seeking a new constitution that would grant greater power to the impoverished Andean nation's Indian majority.
While the president's support remains high among the largely indigenous population of the poorer western highlands, many European-descended and mestizo residents of the more prosperous lowland east have bitterly opposed his reforms. A prominent eastern mayor even suggested Tuesday that Bolivia should split into two separate countries.
Quintana named several government ministers from previous conservative administrations allegedly on the payrolls of democracy initiatives subcontracted by the U.S. Agency for International Development to Chemonics International Inc., a global consulting firm.
The United States has used its Bolivian aid to oppose Morales and his Movement Toward Socialism party, or MAS, in the past.
A declassified 2002 cable from the U.S. Embassy in La Paz described a USAID-sponsored "political party reform project" to "help build moderate, pro-democracy political parties that can serve as a counterweight to the radical MAS or its successors."
The U.S. Embassy in La Paz declined this week to comment on the memo.


Updated : 2021-09-17 10:07 GMT+08:00