Bolivia rejects USAID

Issue 

In another important step towards winning Bolivia’s national sovereignty, the country’s Plurinational Assembly has announced the expulsion from Bolivia of USAID’s Environment and Economic Development (EED) program.

USAID is funded by the US government and on its website says one of its aims is “furthering America’s foreign policy interests”. The agency has come under fire for its role in funding pro-US right-wing organisations in Bolivia and the region.

Deputies from the governing Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) declared the expulsion the first step towards the complete removal of USAID from Bolivia.

This decision follows Bolivian government’s decision to kick out the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) from its territory and expel the US ambassador for his role in the September 2008 right-wing coup attempt.

USAID projects in the coca growing area of the Chapare region were shut down in 2008 after local unions voted to call on local councils to expel the agency from the region.

MAS deputy Antonio Molina told La Razon on April 18 that the USAID program was being shut down due to its interference in hydrocarbon projects in the northern part of the department of La Paz.

Molina said USAID was working to undermine “the good relations between Bolivia and Venezuela” in the joint oil exploration project, and was instead seeking to use the natural resources for US benefit.

The US government had set aside US$14.4 million of the $62 million assigned by US Congress to USAID projects in Bolivia for its EED program, La Razon said.

With “classified” US documents in hand, MAS deputy Edwin Tupa accused the agency on April 26 of working to undermine the leadership of Evo Morales and other social movements since at least 2002, La Razon said.

Tupa said the files showed that during 2002 and 2005, when national elections were held, USAID gave $9 million and $12 million to two right-wing parties standing against MAS.