Thursday, May 2nd 2013 - 07:01 UTC

Morales expels USAID to protest Kerry’ reference of Latam as the ‘US backyard’

President Evo Morales expelled a US development agency from Bolivia, marking the latest confrontation between Washington and a bloc of populist governments in Latin America.

Morales usually makes big announcements on May first Labour Day

Morales said he was kicking out the US Agency for International Development (USAID) as a “protest” after US Secretary of State John Kerry recently referred to Latin America as Washington's “backyard.” The term evokes strong emotions in the region, which experienced several US-backed coups during the Cold War.

Morales announced his decision at a Labour Day rally, an occasion he has used in recent years as a forum to nationalise businesses and take other steps to rouse his working-class base in the region’s poorest nation.

“Today we're only going to nationalise ... the dignity of the Bolivian people,” Morales said. “USAID is leaving Bolivia.”

He did not say what USAID did to deserve expulsion, though Bolivian officials have previously accused the agency of destabilizing the government. In 2008, Morales expelled the US ambassador for allegedly aiding the opposition.

Morales is a close ally of Venezuela's populist government, which has seen its already strained relations with the United States deteriorate further in recent weeks. The government of President Nicolas Maduro, who won a tightly contested election last month to succeed the late Hugo Chavez, on April 25 detained a US citizen and accused him of destabilizing the country.

USAID said in a statement it has spent nearly 2 billion dollars in Bolivia over the past fifty years on projects in education, health and food security, among other areas.

The US government “deeply regrets” Bolivia's decision, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters. “Those who will be most hurt by the Bolivian government's decision are the Bolivian citizens who have benefited from our collaborative work,” he said.

Ventrell said Bolivia's allegations against USAID were “baseless,” and said the US government had not yet decided whether to take any action in response.

Kerry made the “backyard” comment at a Senate committee hearing on April 18. When pressed by a senator about Washington's influence in Latin America, Kerry expressed regret that US aid to the region is falling victim to budget cuts.

“I don't disagree with you about the need to change the dynamic in the Western Hemisphere,” he said. ”It has too often been viewed as a second thought. It shouldn't be. It's our backyard, neighbourhood, as you say. I think there are relationships we could improve”

13 comments Feed

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1 ElaineB (#) May 02nd, 2013 - 11:41 am Report abuse
Poor choice of words given the historical implications but hardly an insult when the intention was self-criticism for not working harder at having good relationships with all South American countries.

You have to wonder if populist governments hire people to pour over ever word ever spoken about them looking for an excuse to be offended and indignant. These countries don't have any real enemies except the corrupt kleptocracies in power.
2 Condorito (#) May 02nd, 2013 - 02:31 pm Report abuse
Very true.

To keep getting Venezuelan aid, Evo has to keep burning US effigies.

Dance little monkey dance!
3 Conqueror (#) May 02nd, 2013 - 06:34 pm Report abuse
Never mind. Latino populist governments like to demonise the U.S. Sooner or later the U.S. will cut latin america off. Then we can all stand back and watch it die.
4 BOTINHO (#) May 02nd, 2013 - 07:44 pm Report abuse
Unfortunately, it is a very sensitive term not appreciated here. Much like Yanqui, or Gringo, for a North American. But hardly reason for ending USAID.

El Supremo is in competition in trying to assume the cloth of Hugo Chavez. The man in Bolivia was just looking for an excuse to justify a decision he already made regarding the US agency. Next, it will be that someone looked at him cross-eyed, or some such silliness. In a friendly as El Presidente, he once kicked a player in the groin, and later bragged about it.
5 Brit Bob (#) May 02nd, 2013 - 07:55 pm Report abuse
Bolivia's Ridiculously weak ICJ case against Chile:
6 Stevie (#) May 02nd, 2013 - 10:19 pm Report abuse
USA moved from a house to a flat.

No more backyard.

Byr byr USAID

7 Captain Poppy (#) May 02nd, 2013 - 11:07 pm Report abuse
The aid has averaged U$40,000,000, I am sure with businesses flocking to Bolivia it won't mean a thing. Besides, with the booming economy in Venezuela with the “Bus” at the helm, they are in like Flint.
8 Baxter (#) May 03rd, 2013 - 12:30 am Report abuse
7 I like it !
9 Fido Dido (#) May 03rd, 2013 - 04:33 am Report abuse
USAID was kicked out of Russia too. why? it's known that it's being used to spy on the nation's government where they work. USAID and the so called “Peace Corps”, a “volunteer” program run by the United States government. Not my words but info you can find in the Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins (ex Cia informant and who worked with the peace corps). The US never gives “borrowed” money for free away.
10 Condorito (#) May 03rd, 2013 - 02:11 pm Report abuse
It is possible to do both things at once. It has long been know that the US uses groups like the peace core for some intelligence gathering. Everyone does it. The French use the “alliance francaise”. It is not an earth-shattering revelation and it doesn’t mean that these groups have no legitimate role.

PS: I see that foreign held US securities reached $13trillion a new record high. Does this mean the US and the USD are not finished?
11 Anglotino (#) May 03rd, 2013 - 09:05 pm Report abuse
Morales is running out of people/organisations to expel.

Once he does, who doexs he blames his problems or issues on?
12 Baxter (#) May 04th, 2013 - 12:25 am Report abuse
11 He will probably invade Paraguay .
13 Captain Poppy (#) May 04th, 2013 - 03:46 am Report abuse
with spears and blowguns?

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