Bolivia’s Morales evicting USAID for meddling, he said

Bolivian President Evo Morales says he is expelling the U.S. Agency for International Development, accusing it of interfering in his country’s internal affairs.

Morales said Wednesday during a May Day speech in La Paz that the United States no longer will manipulate the Bolivian economy and its politics.

In 2008, he threw out the U.S. ambassador and officials from the Drug Enforcement Agency.

State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said the U.S. deeply regrets Wednesday’s expulsions. He called allegations of political interference in Bolivia baseless. He said those who will suffer will be Bolivian citizens, who he said benefit from USAID’s work on health, education and the environment.

USAID has operated in Bolivia since 1964. It has spent nearly $2 billion there over the past 50 years.

U.S. relations with Bolivia have been cool since Morales’ leftist government took power in 2006. He has nationalized several Western-owned companies. Bolivia also is a major coca producer. The crop not only is the key ingredient in cocaine, but also sustains indigenous farmers and is used for non-drug related purposes.

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