Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cleaning House @ the U.S. Embassy

Mar 16 -(digitalwarriormedia) On the heels of another U.S. diplomat being expelled from Bolivia, the government announced over the weekend that a group of Bolivian policemen will be reassigned from their long-held posts at the U.S. Embassy in La Paz.

During a press conference on Sunday, Interior Minister Alfredo Rada pronounced that a small group of senior police officers remained at the U.S. Embassy - some for more than a decade. These ongoing assignments were in violation of Bolivian law, which sets a time limit of two years or less.

Minister Rada went on to denounce how members of the “elite group” detained Gonzalo Jallasi - a Bolivian photojournalist for the state-run daily newspaper Cambio. Jallasi was taking photos of the outer façade of the U.S. Embassy building when he was approached by two security officers who seized his credentials and detained Jallasi for two hours.

“We cannot have personnel who have been trained at the National Academy of Police, the country has invested in them to contribute to national security and they are giving loyalties to other countries," said Rada commenting on the “irregular” detention that ran contrary to Bolivian standards for conduct towards the press.

Just three days earlier, U.S. diplomat Francisco Martinez left Bolivia following accusations from the Morales administration that Martinez “was in permanent contact with opposition groups” and collaborated with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to infiltrate the state oil company YPFB.

On March 9, Martinez - who was second secretary of the U.S. Embassy - was declared persona non grata by President Evo Morales and given 72 hours to leave Bolivian territory. He is the second U.S. diplomat to be expelled from the country in six months amidst accusations of conspiring against the Bolivian government.

Last September U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia Philip Goldberg was the first diplomat to be declared persona non grata after holding a secret meeting with Santa Cruz governor Ruben Costas at the height of internal tension between the central government and Bolivia’s opposition governors of the “Media Luna”.

Krishna Urs remains at the U.S. Embassy as the senior American diplomat in La Paz. Urs made news in January when he abruptly left President Morales’ three-year anniversary speech before the Bolivian Congress in which Morales said “The United States has fomented the regional disintegration of the country, holding secret meetings to promote disturbances against the national government.”

Urs continues to deny charges of foreign conspiracy leveled by the Bolivian government.

The challenges that have plagued U.S.-Bolivia relations seemingly continue…

Video: RealNews



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