Bolivian President Evo Morales has declared Israel a “terrorist state” as four other Latin American countries have pulled their delegations to Israel.
As of Wednesday, Israelis now must obtain a visa before jetting to Bolivia. Beforehand, Israelis were able to travel to the South American state without having to worry about visa procedures.
Bolivian President Morales said the Israel-Bolivia agreement signed in 1972 that allowed for the terms of free passage were signed “under a dictatorial regime.”
“In other words we are declaring [Israel] a terrorist state,” said Morales. “Israel does not respect the principles or purposes of the United Nations charter nor the Universal Declaration of Human rights.”
The US State Department has said of Bolivia under Evo Morales’s presidency:
The principal human rights problems reported were killings and torture by security forces; harsh prison conditions; allegations of arbitrary arrest and detention; an ineffective, overburdened, and corrupt judiciary; a “partly free” media; corruption and a lack of transparency in the government; trafficking in persons; child labor; forced or coerced labor; and harsh working conditions in the mining sector.
According to democracy and freedom watchdog Freedom House, Israel has been ranked a “Free” country while Bolivia’s status is “Partly Free.”
The international watchdog said of Bolivia’s Press Freedom under Morales:
Press freedom in Bolivia deteriorated in 2012 as the government of President Evo Morales used the 2010 Law against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination to intimidate and stifle the media. In addition, the number of threats and physical attacks against journalists and media outlets rose during the year.
Four other South American countries, including Brazil, Peru, Chile, and Ecuador, have brought their ambassadors to Israel back home to showcase how they were upset with Israeli policies in Gaza.