U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement on reports that Evo Morales wants to expel the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) from Bolivia. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"One day after it was announced that Morales can run for a third term in clear violation of the Bolivian constitution, we see his latest attempts to disrupt order by announcing his willingness to expel USAID from Bolivia. This is just another indication of the deteriorating crisis in many ALBA nations, such as Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Bolivia, whose leaders continue to undermine democratic principles, ignore the rule of law, and attempt to silence civil society.
"Unfortunately this isn't the first time we have seen Morales take this kind of misguided action, as he expelled our Ambassador and the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2008. In 2011, I wrote to Secretary Clinton vigorously opposing the signing of a Framework Agreement between the U.S. and Bolivia, citing Morales' continued efforts to undermine U.S. interests and failure to fulfill commitments. Ultimately, Morales's provocative actions will only hurt the people of Bolivia who are yearning for democracy and independent institutions.
"The U.S. must not take lightly this act of provocation, but rather make clear to Morales and the rest of his cohorts in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Ecuador that such actions will not go without consequences. We must also reiterate that we stand with the people of these oppressive regimes and condemn their anti-democratic tactics."
Note: Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ) introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1687 - Countering ALBA Act of 2013, urging the President to sanction persons who are officials of or acting on behalf of ALBA Governments, who the President determines are responsible for or complicit in the commission of serious human rights abuses against citizens of ALBA countries. Such sanctions may include: ineligibility for a visa to enter the United States, blocking of property, and prohibition on financial transactions, pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. The bill also directs the Secretary of State to transmit a comprehensive strategy to ensure that ALBA governments are democratic governments committed to making constitutional changes that would ensure regular free and fair elections and the full enjoyment of basic civil liberties and human rights by the citizens of ALBA countries; and have made demonstrable progress in establishing independent judiciaries and electoral councils.