Wednesday, September 10, 2008

US Bolivia ambassador 'expelled'

US Ambassador in Bolivia Philip Goldberg (file image)
Goldberg is "conspiring against democracy", said Mr Morales

The US ambassador to Bolivia has been ordered to leave the country by President Evo Morales.

Mr Morales accused Philip Goldberg of "conspiring against democracy" and encouraging the country's break up.

A US State Department spokesman said it had received no formal word of the dismissal and described the accusations against Mr Goldberg as "baseless".

Bolivia has seen large protests in recent weeks by opponents of Mr Morales' economic and social policies.

"The ambassador of the United States is conspiring against democracy and wants Bolivia to break apart," Mr Morales said, in a speech at the presidential palace in La Paz.

The president said the foreign minister would inform Mr Goldberg that he "should return to his country at once".

Mr Morales did not say what evidence he had to support his allegation but claimed to have the government's backing.


Bolivian president Evo Morales speaks in La Paz (05/09/2008)
The announcement comes after two weeks of demonstrations by groups opposing Mr Morales.

Protesters have been blocking roads and occupying buildings in eastern regions, which are home to Bolivia's important natural gas reserves.

Opposition groups want a greater autonomy as well as more control over revenues of natural gas in their areas.

They object to Mr Morales' plans to give more power to the country's indigenous and poor communities, by carrying out land reform and redistributing gas revenues.

Earlier this week, the government announced it was sending the military to protect gas fields and infrastructure from demonstrators and guarantee exports to neighbouring countries.

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