US Plotting Bolivian Government's Collapse, Minister Claims

 @crvillarreal on January 07 2013 12:59 PM

The Bolivian government claims that the U.S. is plotting to destabilize it and that it will soon present the evidence to President Barack Obama.

Minister of the Presidency Juan Ramon Quintana said that he has proof that the U.S. Embassy in La Paz was conducting activities to undermine Bolivian President Evo Morales’ administration, adding that the U.S. has been involved in a “permanent war” against his policies.

"We have been compiling all the evidence to present it to President Obama," Quintana told reporters, according to the BBC.

"We want to tell him: Cease all hostilities against the Bolivian government; stop the political ambush of our government."

Relations between the U.S. and Bolivia have been strained since Morales took office in 2006 due to conflicting political and economic ideologies, such as the nationalization of major industries, as well as strong differences over how to address transnational issues such as drug trafficking.

In 2008, Bolivia expelled the U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg, accusing Washington, D.C., of fostering anti-government sentiment and unrest. The U.S. responded in kind, though it keeps a charge d’affaires to maintain its embassy in La Paz.

The two countries agreed in 2011 to negotiate the reinstatement of their ambassadors, but recent events have threatened to derail the normalization of diplomatic relations.

Last week, Morales accused the U.S. of politicizing the arrest of an American businessman accused of money laundering and drug trafficking in Bolivia.

The businessman, Jacob Ostreicher, was imprisoned for 18 months without any formal charges brought against him and was placed under house arrest last month amid calls for his release from U.S. lawmakers.

Drug trafficking remains a point of contention between the two countries with the White House releasing a report last September, condemning Bolivia, along with other countries including Venezuela and Burma, as having “failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations under international counter-narcotics agreements."

Bolivia, along with Colombia and Peru, remains at the center of global cocaine production and distribution and draws criticism from the U.S. for upholding farmers’ rights to cultivate the coca plant from which cocaine is derived but in its natural form has been used as a traditional indigenous remedy for dealing with the high altitude of the Andes and as a mild stimulant that is particularly important for those engaged in manual labor.

Morales is the first Bolivian president of indigenous descent and a former union leader for coca plant farmers. He has made it a point during his presidency to support the country’s indigenous population, though his left-leaning ideology has often brought him into conflict with U.S. interests in the region.

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