Bolivian President Says He Won’t Let DEA Come Back

Bolivian President Evo Morales expressed hope Monday for improved relations with the United States under Barack Obama’s presidency but said he will never allow the US anti-drug agency to resume operating in his country.

The socialist leader, a close ally of Venezuelan Presiden Hugo Chavez, accused the Drug Enforcement Administration of “polotical aggression” in Bolivia, which is a major sourc of coca plants, the rwa ingredients for cocaine. Morales said his government would set up a new intelligence operation involving the military and police to fight drug trafficking in place of the DEA whose Bolivian operations he suspended November 1.

Morales, the former leader of a coca growers union, also said Bolivia will seek to remove coca leaf from the UN list of prohibited drugs. While coca can be

turned into cocaine, Boliians use the small green leaf in its less-potent natural form as a traditonal tea or for chewing. Bolivia-US relations have deteriorated in recent months as Morales’ government halted DEA activites and expelled US Ambassador Philip Goldberg, accusing him of spying and involvement in anti-government protests in the eastern lowlands.

 The US govrnment has denied helping Morales’ opponents and warns that ending the DEA operations will esult in even more cocaine being produced in Bilivia and shipped to the other countries. the State Department did not have any comment on Morales’ latest statement.

Repeating his allegations, Morales announced the ban on DEA operations when asked at a news conference whether he would agree to a return of the DEA after Obama takes office.

“The DEA will not return while I am still president,” Morales said. “The DEA … had an intelligence structure but it wasn’t so much to fight drugs, it has more to do with the political aggression against my government.  …. In recent times, we’ve seen officials of the DEA involved in political conspiracy.”

Noting that he was the first native Indian president of Bolivia and that Obama is the first black president of the United States, Morales said, “I feel tha the world has started to change.”

“My desire is to improve diplpmatic relations, trade relations, co-operation” with the United Statea, he said.

Morales held the news conference after speaking during a General Assembly debate on UN reforms and acheiving UN anti-proverty goals. He was the only head of state to address the session. All others speakers were ambassadors or lower-ranking diplomats.

Source: Barbados Advocate

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