(AFP) – Mar 12, 2009
LA PAZ (AFP) — A US diplomat who was declared persona non grata by Bolivian President Evo Morales for allegedly conspiring against the government left the country Thursday, a US official said.
Francisco Martinez was given 72 hours to leave the country on Monday. He left on an American Airlines flight in what the charge d'affairs at the US embassy in La Paz, Kris Urs, called an unfair and arbitrary expulsion.
Martinez, who was second secretary at the embassy, was falsely accused, Urs stressed.
Urs is now the top US diplomat in La Paz after the ambassador was expelled in September, accused of conspiring against Morales. Urs said the United States was reviewing its relations with Bolivia, without providing further detail.
After expelling ambassador Philip Goldberg, Morales two months later expelled the US representatives in Bolivia of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, also accusing them of plotting against him though he provided no evidence to support his charges.
Morales' socialist government is a close ally of Venezuela and Cuba, Washington's chief antagonists in the region.
Bolivia's Interior Minister Alfredo Rada charged that Martinez met with rebel governors, and is a CIA agent who helped infiltrate the state oil company YPFB, which recently was hit by a major corruption case.
YPFB president Santos Ramirez, a close ally of Morales, was sacked and jailed in January after being accused of taking 450,000 dollars from a private Argentine-Bolivian firm contracted to build an 86-million-dollar natural gas facility.
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