SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia (CNN) -- Bolivian President Evo Morales on Monday accused a U.S. diplomat of contacting opposition groups, declared him "persona non grata" and ordered he be expelled.
"Francisco Martinez, a Mexican-U.S. citizen, was in permanent contact with opposition groups during the whole era of conspiracy," the leftist president said. "He was the U.S. embassy person who contacted ex-police officers," Morales told reporters, according to The Associated Press, whose tape of the speech was broadcast on CNN en Espanol.
"The times of the colony will end in Latin America," Morales vowed to reporters. "We are in profound transformation."
Martinez was identified in media reports as the second secretary at the embassy in La Paz, Bolivia's capital.
Heidi Bronke, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department's Western Hemisphere Affairs bureau, acknowledged the move, but said it had not been communicated through diplomatic channels.
"We reject the accusations made by the government of Bolivia," she said. "This decision is unwarranted and unjustified. It is inconsistent with recent statements by the government of Bolivia expressing a desire to improve bilateral relations."
Morales' move comes six months after he declared U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg persona non grata for allegedly having encouraged anti-government demonstrators to violence.
Goldberg denied the charge.
Journalist Gloria Carrasco contributed to this story from Santa Cruz, Bolivia
|Most Viewed||Most Emailed||Top Searches|