Keep Us Strong WikiLeaks logo

Currently released so far... 2497 / 251,287

Articles

Browse latest releases

Browse by creation date

Browse by origin

A B C D F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z

Browse by tag

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
QA
YE YM YI

Browse by classification

Community resources

courage is contagious

Viewing cable 08LAPAZ329, GOB RESPINS ANTI-U.S. ALLEGATIONS

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Understanding cables
Every cable message consists of three parts:
  • The top box shows each cables unique reference number, when and by whom it originally was sent, and what its initial classification was.
  • The middle box contains the header information that is associated with the cable. It includes information about the receiver(s) as well as a general subject.
  • The bottom box presents the body of the cable. The opening can contain a more specific subject, references to other cables (browse by origin to find them) or additional comment. This is followed by the main contents of the cable: a summary, a collection of specific topics and a comment section.
To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.

Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol). Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #08LAPAZ329.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08LAPAZ329 2008-02-19 23:11 2010-12-03 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy La Paz
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLP #0329/01 0502300
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 192300Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6467
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 7598
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4967
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 8872
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 6087
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 3307
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 3522
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 5243
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5936
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0553
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0912
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
C O N F I D E N T I A L LA PAZ 000329 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/20/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON BL
SUBJECT: GOB RESPINS ANTI-U.S. ALLEGATIONS 

REF: A. LA PAZ 303 
B. LA PAZ 304 
C. LA PAZ 218 

Classified By: EcoPol Chief Mike Hammer for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 

1. (C) Summary: The Bolivian government attempted to renew 
and, in some cases, repackage old allegations against the 
U.S. February 16-18. Bolivian President Evo Morales 
threatened to show USAID the door if it continues undermining 
his administration. As proof, Morales provided the example 
of a political organization that was allegedly turned down 
for USAID assistance due to its pro-Morales stance. He also 
cited unnamed groups that were asked to work against the 
government as a condition for assistance. Morales also 
argued against a free trade agreement with the U.S. and 
charged the U.S. of involvement in the disappearances of 
Bolivians during drug-related conflicts in the region of 
Chapare. Morales' assertion that pro-government groups were 
prepared to take up arms to defend his agenda were rebuffed 
by a wide-range of social and labor groups. Government 
Minister Alfredo Rada continues to accuse the U.S. of 
involvement in a police "spying" scandal to deflect from his 
role in the unauthorized surveillance of opposition 
politicians and reporters. The Bolivian government's refusal 
to sign a cooperation agreement concerning U.S. military aid 
and the impact of that refusal on disaster assistance was 
made public February 18. Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca 
explained the government did not want to sign an agreement 
"with its eyes closed" and was only reviewing the agreement. 
Despite public assurances that they want better relations 
with the U.S., the relentless public spinning of the Bolivian 
government's complaints against the U.S. at the expense of 
diplomatic channels suggest the BOG has another agenda: 
discredit the U.S. and distract the Bolivian public. End 
Summary. 

Lights, Camera, Allegations 
--------------------------- 

2. (U) Bolivian President Evo Morales made several references 
to ongoing "political problems" with the U.S. February 15, 
although he clarified diplomatic and commercial relations 
would be maintained. Morales rehashed the argument that 
USAID is supporting opposition groups and that the U.S. 
Embassy is "making politics" at the expense of diplomatic 
work, such as advancing commercial ties. Morales asserted 
during recent months USAID has been convoking groups through 
implementing NGOs and offering them money with the 
stipulation that they work "against the Bolivian government." 
Morales claimed leaders from the Federation of Ayllus 
(indigenous local government units) of Potosi told him an 
USAID-supported NGO denied their group's request for $20,000 
because the organization "supports Evo Morales." Morales 
urged citizens to report NGOs that are "bought by USAID to 
distribute funds to make politics against the government." 
He added, "The government will not allow NGOs to work against 
the executive power. Faced with these provocations from 
USAID, we will ask them to go home." Morales saluted U.S. 
citizens that are denouncing both USAID and the Embassy for 
practicing "politics," but offered no details on who he was 
referring to. 

3. (U) Although most of his criticisms were respun from old 
charges, Morales added a new spin on some existing 
allegations. Morales asserted Embassy Bolivian police guards 
act "like embassy workers ... at the side of the U.S. 
government." Morales claimed he learned of this "strange" 
police arrangement through Fulbrighter van Schaick, who 
accused Assistant Regional Security Officer Vincent Cooper of 
asking him to "spy" on Cubans and Venezuelans in Bolivia last 
week (Reftels a and b). Though not directly associated with 
recent charges the U.S. is behind Bolivian police "spying" on 
politicians and reporters, this mischaracterization of our 
Bolivian guard force feeds into the Morales administration's 
allegations of undue U.S. influence on Bolivian police units. 

Evo on FTA, Drugs, and Cooper "Expulsion" 
----------------------------------------- 

4. (C) Morales rejected a free trade agreement with the U.S. 
as a return to the days of former-president Gonzalo Sanchez 
de Lozada, when Morales alleges the government made deals 
with U.S. businesses at the expense of Bolivians. Morales 
characterized the Embassy's decision that ARSO Vincent Cooper 
would not return to Bolivia as the "expulsion" of a "man who 
conducted North American espionage." Morales repeated his 
opinion that the war on drugs has been a failure because it 
targeted coca leaf instead of cocaine. He alleged the DEA, 
U.S. military, and Bolivian national police headed Bolivian 
anti-narcotics efforts "from a U.S. military base" in 
Cochabamba Department when there were "demonstrations and 
disappearances," implying U.S. involvement. (Note: The U.S. 
supports Bolivian anti-narcotics efforts at the Chimore 
Airport and has offices there, but there are no U.S. military 
bases per se in Bolivia. Despite Morales' intermittent calls 
to dismantle such non-existent bases, this issue is a 
misunderstanding or a straw man. End Note.) 

Call to Arms Disconnected 
------------------------- 

5. (U) While railing against "oligarchic groups," and 
particularly efforts to convoke an autonomy referendum in the 
opposition-led Department (state) of Santa Cruz, Morales 
claimed pro-government groups would defend his administration 
"with arms." Morales said February 14 that sympathizers in 
Santa Cruz had told him they would take up arms to ensure the 
opposition showed Morales the proper "respect." However, 
leaders from MAS-aligned social and union groups rejected any 
attempt to resort to arms February 16, calling instead for an 
electoral solution to settle Bolivian differences. 


Spin Doctor Rada's Dizzying "Spy" Accusations 
--------------------------------------------- 

6. (U) On February 15, the Ambassador met with Government 
Minister Alfredo Rada to discuss the USG's support to the 
Police's Special Operations Command (COPES) police unit, a 
unit that Rada has stated was likely behind a growing 
domestic surveillance scandal. Following their meeting, the 
Ambassador issued a public statement which re-iterated that 
the USG was never involved in domestic spying and explained 
that USG would no longer fund COPES because the unit had been 
disbanded on January 29. 

7. (U) In an interview with the La Paz newspaper La Prensa 
following the February 15 meeting Rada continued to insinuate 
)- as he has done publicly on various occasions -- that 
COPES was responsible for internal surveillance against 
political officials and journalists. Rada once again called 
COPES a parallel intelligence organization that conducted 
"political intelligence," argued it reported directly to the 
USG and not to the National Intelligence Directorate (DNI), 
and that it exceeded the scope of its mandate. Rada 
explained that since September 11, 2001 the U.S. government 
had directed COPES to gather intelligence on terrorist 
organizations which violated COPES' mission to conduct 
surveillance only on narco-trafficking organizations. Rada 
stated, that "terrorism is a fundamentally political 
phenomenon . . . therefore COPES . . . conducted political 
intelligence . . . All of this a function of the State 
Department's priorities." (Note: According to the COPES' 
memorandum of understanding between the Bolivian and U.S. 
governments, conducting surveillance on both illegal 
narcotics and terrorist targets is part of its mission. End 
Note.) 

8. (U) Throughout the interview Minister Rada engaged in 
double speak, at times strongly insinuating the USG was 
behind the domestic spying scandal, at other times 
acknowledging there was little information tying the USG to 
the case. "It would be irresponsible to affirm they (the 
Embassy) were behind these (domestic spying) operations," 
Rada stated. He followed with, "The fact that intelligence 
personnel from the Embassy received reports from ODEP (COPES' 
official name since 2001) makes us believe that they were 
aware of these things (domestic spying). Despite earlier 
statements in the interview that COPES responded to the USG, 
Rada closed the interview with the statement, "That 
ODEP-COPES followed direct orders from the Embassy, we cannot 
yet demonstrate, but we are investigating. But there was a 
direct economic link, and it has been demonstrated that they 
worked on priorities designed by Washington." Rada also 
tried to link Fulbrighter Van Schaick case to the domestic 
spy scandal. Arguing his Van Schaick's sworn statement is 
the first piece of concrete evidence that links the USG to 
espionage within Bolivia. 

Eyes Wide Shut on MILGP Assistance 
---------------------------------- 

9. (C) The Bolivian press reported February 19 that the 
Bolivian government had frozen military humanitarian 
assistance, by not renewing our humanitarian assistance 
diplomatic note (which acts as a SOFA, or status of forces 
agreement, for U.S. military personnel in Bolivia). The 
article stressed that non-military aid (USD) 600,000 to flood 
victims is not affected. However, it highlighted that our 
MILGRP has provided humanitarian assistance (include medical, 
dental and eye treatment) since 1996 and has already 
prevented aid from arriving for flooding victims. Foreign 
Minister David Choquehuanca responded that the government had 
not canceled any agreement, but was simply reviewing it. 
Choquehuanca stated, "We now do not sign agreements with the 
United States with our eyes closed, like what happened in the 
past, especially with anti-drug assistance." (Note: The 
humanitarian assistance agreement has nothing to do with our 
counter-narcotics aid. A Bolivian diplomatic note suspended 
renewal of the assistance agreement January 29, citing the 
need for a dialogue to bridge a "gap of understanding." 
((Reftel C)) End Note). 

Comment 
------- 

10. (C) Although charges that USAID is undermining the 
Bolivian government are nothing new (Minister of the 
Presidency Juan Quintana originally laid out the charges in 
August and officials have drummed them up periodically 
since), Morales' call for Bolivians to help the government 
"identify these NGOs" ostensibly working to undermine his 
administration is a troubling development. Using Morales' 
example of the Potosi group that was "denied" $20,000, any 
person or organization that asks for USAID funding and does 
not receive it could allege a political motive. We will 
continue to counter misunderstandings about USAID's 
transparency and apolitical nature with reality. However, 
the Bolivian government is unlikely to back off from its 
USAID assault any time soon, as it enjoys the propaganda 
value of creating an external enemy to distract from domestic 
problems. Likewise, although government officials have 
privately admitted to us they do not believe the U.S. was 
involved in the police "spying" scandal, they are not 
disengaging from insinuations of U.S. involvement. Rada's 
accusations are designed not to lead to a formal process that 
would prove or disprove them, but rather to create the 
appearance of U.S. impropriety to distract the Bolivian 
public from very real and potentially damaging charges 
against him. As such, they are a success. The incongruity 
of the government accusing us of being in cahoots with the 
opposition and, at the same time, spying on them seems 
largely overlooked in the public discourse. Unfortunately, 
the Bolivian press does not consistently apply critical 
analysis to these incoherent, vague, and sometimes 
contradictory charges before distributing them to the 
Bolivian and international public. 

11. (C) Comment Continued. Although they may not always 
believe in the merits of some of their specific accusations, 
government leaders from Evo down appear to genuinely believe 
the Embassy is working to undermine the Morales 
administration. Given his proclivity to view the Embassy as 
separate from the U.S. government and people, we expect 
Morales to bring the GOB's vague litany of accusations 
against the Embassy to both the visiting Congressional 
delegation and to the U.S. public during his planned February 
25-27 speaking tour in the U.S. End Comment. 
GOLDBERG