November 2, 2008
Morales Wants DEA Out of Bolivia
The Bolivian government will take over anti-drug efforts in Bolivia, replacing the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, President Evo Morales said Saturday.
Morales said he was suspending DEA operations in a speech he gave in a remote area, which was broadcast throughout Bolivia, CNN reported. The DEA said it had received no official notification from the Bolivian government.More than a month ago, Morales ordered DEA agents to leave the Chapare region, the major cocaine area. He said he could no longer guarantee their safety in the violence-torn region.
Morales, the first Bolivian Indian to become president, has had an increasingly contentious relationship with the United States. Bolivia and the United States recently had a tit-for-tat expulsion of their ambassadors.
"If this is true, it is an unfortunate situation," Garrison Courtney, a DEA spokesman, said Saturday. "We've been working with our counterparts for over 30 years and have a tremendous working relationship with our Bolivian counterparts."