LA PAZ – President Evo Morales said on Monday that he ordered the expulsion of yet another diplomat assigned to the U.S. Embassy in La Paz, accusing Second Secretary Francisco Martinez of conspiring with Bolivia’s right-wing opposition against his socialist government.
Martinez “was the permanent contact with opposition groups during the entire conspiracy stage,” the president said, referring to weeks of violent protests mounted last September by secession-minded provincial governments in eastern Bolivia.
“He was the person in the U.S. Embassy who was in contact with some ex-cops who operated in the Special Operations Center, so today I decided to declare him persona non grata,” Morales said in a speech at the presidential palace.
Last month, officials in Washington denied the first accusations of the Morales government against Martinez.
Morales said Monday that there have been “in-depth investigations” of Martinez and asked Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca to convey his decision to the U.S. Embassy “for the dignity of Bolivians and to end foreign corruption.”
The U.S. government on Monday said the decision to expel Martinez was “unjustified” and rejected the accusations against him.
The decision “contradicts recent statements by the Bolivian government expressing its desire to improve bilateral relations,” State Department spokesman Andy Laine told Efe in Washington.
At the end of last month, the Morales administration said that Martinez carried out “tasks of coordination, networking and organization” with at least one Bolivian asset of the CIA.
At the time Interior Minister Alfredo Rada said that Martinez held meetings with Rodrigo Carrasco, Bolivian ex-police captain currently accused of espionage and of setting up a network of corruption in the state oil company YPFB.
Last September Morales also declared persona non grata Washington’s ambassador in La Paz, Philip Goldberg, also accused of conspiring against him.
That decision was countered by the United States with the expulsion of Bolivian Ambassador Gustavo Guzman.
Weeks later, Morales ordered all U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration personnel to leave Bolivia. EFE