(AFP) – Sep 14, 2008
LA PAZ (AFP) — The US ambassador to Bolivia, Philip Goldberg, said Sunday as he was being booted out of the country that President Evo Morales's decision could have "serious consequences."
"This decision could have serious consequences of several sorts which apparently have not been correctly evaluated," he said, reading from a statement in front of the US embassy in La Paz just before heading back to Washington.
He notably mentioned the problem of the cocaine trade.
"That's a problem that has to be tackled with determination, before this scourge spreads further in our societies," he said. "Together we can confront this issue. But without cooperation, we will fail."
Bolivia is the third-biggest producer of the narcotic in the world, behind Colombia and Peru, and the United States has predicated its 100 million dollars of annual aid to the country on eradicating coca crops and drug factories.
Morales on Wednesday ordered Goldberg to leave Bolivia, accusing him of backing opposition groups which have been defying his rule.
The US ambassador denied the charge, stating: "I want to say that all the accusations made against me, against my embassy... against my country and against my people are entirely false and unjustified."
Washington has retaliated by telling the Bolivian ambassador to go.
The diplomatic spat has grown larger with Venezuela also ordering out the US ambassador, Honduras refusing to accept the credentials of a new US envoy, and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega scrapping a summit which will include US President George W. Bush out of solidarity.
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