Wed, Aug 29, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Morales cautions foreign envoys

UNDIPLOMATIC BEHAVIOR A US embassy spokesman denied allegations that the US has paid for publications, trips and seminars for Bolivian opposition politicians

AP , LA PAZ

Bolivian President Evo Morales warned he would take "radical decisions" against foreign diplomats who become involved in Bolivian politics, a day after his vice president accused the US of funding the conservative opposition.

"I cannot understand how some ambassadors dedicate themselves to politics, and not diplomacy, in our country," Morales said at a gathering of Bolivia's diplomatic corps on Monday in La Paz. "That is not called cooperation. That is called conspiracy."

He said that while his government would be patient with foreign governments, "at any time we will make radical decisions against those ambassadors who are always provoking us."

Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia accused the US embassy on Sunday of financing "publications, trips and seminars" to help the opposition develop "ideological and political resistance" to the administration. He did not provide details.

Embassy spokesman Eric Watnik denied the allegations Monday, saying "cooperation from the US is apolitical."

The US has used its aid to Boliva to oppose Morales and his Movement Toward Socialism party (MAS) in the past.

A declassified 2002 cable from the embassy in La Paz described a US Aid-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."

Embassy officials declined to comment on Monday on the memo.

At the time, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), a Washington-based organization funded by US Aid, was working with a variety of Bolivian political parties.

NDI regional director Jim Swigert said he was "not aware of anything that suggests a certain goal" to the programs.

He said NDI has worked with MAS delegates rewriting Bolivia's constitution and this year paid for two MAS politicians, as well as delegates from opposition parties, to attend a leadership conference in Mexico.

The US and Bolivia continue to collaborate on anti-drug efforts, health and economic projects.

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