Bolivian President Evo Morales has ejected the U.S. Agency for International Development, citing the ill-considered words of Secretary of State John Kerry as why. Kerry had appeared before a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing in April and referred to Bolivia as “our backyard.”
Morales leaped on the remark, saying at a May Day celebration in La Paz that Kerry’s words indicated the arrogance of the United States, “Surely to think that you can still manipulate us economically, politically — those times are past.
Last month, Morales had reacted to Kerry’s words by saying, “We are going to have to seriously analyze the presence of USAID and the U.S. Embassy.” Morales said the presence of USAID and the embassy were “an open provocation… to countries that have liberated themselves from imperialism.”
The State Department dismissed the remarks by Morales; acting deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell said they were “baseless allegations made by the Bolivian government. The people who suffer because of this are the Bolivian people who were receiving our assistance.”
Morales has been fighting with the U.S. for years over America’s drug eradication strategies; five years ago, the U.S. ambassador and Drug Enforcement Administration agents were expelled from the country because Morales stated they were working with his political opponents.
USAID responded by calling the allegations by Morales “baseless”:
The United States government has worked in a dedicated fashion over the past five years to establish a relationship based on mutual respect, dialogue, and cooperation with the Bolivian government. This action is further demonstration that the Bolivian government is not interested in that vision.