The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Dan Beeton, 202-239-1460

US Should Disclose its Funding of Opposition Groups in Bolivia and Other Latin American Countries


The Center for Economic and Policy Research
(CEPR) called on the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Agency for
International Development (USAID), and other agencies to release
information detailing whom it is funding in Bolivia -- where violent
right-wing opposition groups have wreaked havoc this week in a series
of shootings, beatings, ransacking of offices, and sabotage of a
natural gas pipeline -- as well as in other Latin American countries
including Venezuela. Recent events suggest there may be evidence for
Bolivian president Evo Morales' assertions that the U.S. Embassy is
supporting groups promoting violence and seeking "autonomy" from
Bolivia, and the Center called on USAID and other U.S. agencies to
"come clean" in order to demonstrate the U.S. government's good faith.

"Washington has decided to keep its ties to Bolivia's opposition
shrouded in secrecy, and that's not conducive to trust between the U.S.
and Bolivian governments," said Mark Weisbrot,
CEPR Co-Director. "If Washington has nothing to hide in terms of whom
it is funding and working with in Bolivia, then it should reveal which
groups those are."

In the midst of the violence and property destruction, Bolivian
president Evo Morales declared U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg "persona
non grata" and asked him to be expelled, suggesting he is aiding
organizations behind the violence and sabotage. Despite numerous
requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act, the U.S. has not
turned over all the names of recipient organizations of USAID funds.
Bolivia is a major recipient of USAID money, with millions of dollars
sent to groups there. The U.S. also funds groups in Bolivia through the
National Endowment for Democracy and related organizations.

"USAID is not supposed to be a clandestine organization, but
nevertheless the U.S. government refuses to divulge which groups in
Bolivia are supported with U.S. tax dollars," Weisbrot said. "By
providing clandestine aid to groups that are almost certainly in the
opposition, it gives the impression that the U.S. is contributing to
efforts to destabilize the Bolivian government."

The U.S. Embassy in Bolivia has been implicated in a number of events
that suggest it may be seeking to undermine Morales' government. In
February of this year it was revealed that the Embassy had repeatedly asked Peace Corps volunteers and a Fulbright Scholar
to spy on people inside Bolivia. USAID has an "Office of Transition
Initiatives" operating in Bolivia, funneling millions of dollars of
training and support to right-wing opposition regional governments and

At least eight people were killed and dozens injured in violence
Thursday, the latest in over a week of protests carried out by
organized youth groups in conjunction with
departmental governors and other opposition leaders that also saw them
sabotage a natural gas pipeline, vandalize government offices, ransack
the offices of a human rights organization, and threaten to cut off
natural gas exports to neighboring Brazil and Argentina.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

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