Sunday, Nov 2, 2008
Bolivia’s leftist President Evo Morales accused U.S. anti-drug agents of spying on Saturday, and barred them from fighting cocaine traffickers in the Andean country until further notice.
“There were DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) agents that were doing political espionage, … financing criminal groups so that they could act against authorities, even the president,” Morales said.
Morales accused the DEA of maintaining ties with anti-government groups that staged violent protests in eastern and central regions governed by the opposition in September. He said the organization’s actions amounted to conspiracy.
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“This is a personal decision. … From now on, the DEA is not allowed to act in the country until further notice,” said Morales, who stopped short of expelling DEA agents.
Morales had already banned DEA flights over the country.
Impoverished Bolivia is the world’s third-largest cocaine producer after Colombia and Peru. Last month, the United States added Bolivia to a list of states that had “failed demonstrably” to meet their counter-narcotics obligations.
The United States called Morales’ accusations absurd.
“We reject accusations that the DEA or any other U.S. government agency has supported the opposition or conspired against the Bolivian government,” the U.S. Embassy in La Paz cited a State Department official as saying. “These accusations are false and absurd.”