Associated Press reports via VoA:
MIAMI – The Trump administration is sending an assessment team to Bolivia this week to discuss possible resumption of foreign aid to the Andean nation following the ouster of leftist leader Evo Morales, according to two people with knowledge of the visit.
The team organized by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the development branch of the State Department, is looking to assist Bolivia’s interim government run a smooth presidential election May 3 that it hopes will end months of political turmoil following a vote last year that observers said was marred by fraud.
The mission will also discuss longer-term areas of cooperation, according to the two people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity Tuesday because the mission hasn’t yet been announced.
Morales expelled the USAID from Bolivia in 2013, accusing it of political interference by support for groups and local governments that that opposed him.
Interim President Jeanine Anez has been driving a conservative backlash against policies implemented by Morales, the nation’s first indigenous president, during almost 14 years of leftist rule. She has been looking to improve relations with the U.S. and take a tougher line on coca farmers.
But critics says she’s overstepping her caretaker mandate and say the U.S. should be wary of backing an interim government accused of targeting Morales’ allies, who still wield plenty of political power even with their leader living in exile, in neighboring Argentina.
“The Trump administration has clearly picked sides,” said Kathryn Ledebur of the nonprofit Andean Information Network in Bolivia. “But it should also highlight concerns about human rights violations and erosion of democratic rights.’’ [Bolivian Thoughts opinion: Ledebur certainly has an agenda for such remarks, she is not objective. The coca grower caudillo, the autocrat egomaniac had inflicted in numerous occasions the human rights of women, indigenous, elderly and disabled citizens. Dear reader, if you want to know more about our peril, please read the facts in this link, thank you.]
The White House on Monday announced that it was lifting a longstanding ban on foreign aid to Bolivia imposed for its failure to cooperate in U.S. anti-narcotics efforts.
The U.S. first decertified Bolivia as a partner in the drug war shortly after Morales – former head of a coca growers’ union – expelled then U.S. Ambassador Phil Goldberg and the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2008. But it received wavers for several years after that, permitting aid to continue.
On Monday, the Trump administration reinstated a waiver that would allow aid to resume flowing to the Andean nation, finding that it is “vital to the national interests of the United States.’’
Before Morales came to power, the country had been receiving more than $150 million in economic and security aid, much of it focused on anti-narcotics programs.
Aid had dropped to about $100 million in 2008 and to $28 million in 2012.
When Morales expelled the agency a year later, USAID said its programs were helping tens of thousands of Bolivians, particularly children and new mothers in rural areas who have benefited from health, nutrition, immunization and reproductive services. [Bolivian Thoughts opinion: Let’s not forget that we lost the textile/garment marketing the USA, as a result of the coca grower caudillo’s protection to the coca grown in the Chapare, who is reportedly going to cocaine production in over 90% of its total production. We lost the benefits of the ATPDEA. As a result of that, our private sector closed factories, numerous Bolivian people lost their jobs.]