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Bolivia announces expulsion of USAID

  • FILE - In this Jan. 26, 2013 file photo, Chile's President Sebastian Pinera, right, talks to Bolivia's President Evo Morales during the arrival of dignitaries for the CELAC-EU summit in Santiago, Chile. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano, File)

LA PAZ: President Evo Morales announced Wednesday the expulsion of USAID representatives from Bolivia, accusing the US development agency of meddling in the country's internal affairs.

In a fiery speech to workers on May Day, the leftist president of South America's poorest country said the US Agency for International Development was in Bolivia "for political purposes, not social ones."

He did not specify exactly how he felt the US agency was interfering in Bolivian affairs.

USAID has operated in the Andean nation since 1964.

Morales, who has been in power since 2006, expelled the US ambassador and representatives of the US Drug Enforcement Administration in 2008 on the same grounds. Bolivia is a major producer of coca leaves, the raw material of cocaine.

"No more USAID, which manipulates and uses our leaders," Morales said in the address in La Paz's Plaza de Armas.

Morales said Bolivia was offended by recent comments by US Secretary of State John Kerry to the effect that Latin America was the United States' backyard.

The United States, he said, "probably thinks that here it can still manipulate politically and economically. That is a thing of the past."

In Bolivia, USAID has worked to help Bolivia improve its health care system and also runs a sustainable development and environmental program.

Specific goals include boosting farm productivity and food security, expanding access to social services and enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium sized companies, according to the USAID web site.

During Wednesday's speech Morales also announced several laws designed to benefit workers and recalled the seventh anniversary of his government's nationalization of the hydrocarbon sector, which affected nearly a dozen foreign oil companies.

 
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