DEA Quits Bolivia on Morales’ Order

LA PAZ, Bolivia, Jan 29, 2009 (UPI via COMTEX) – The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has removed all its agents from Bolivia, complying with orders by President Evo Morales, officials said.

The DEA began pulling agents out several weeks ago and the last agents left Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported. The development comes even as Bolivian officials say coca cultivation and cocaine processing are growing.

Morales ordered the DEA out in November, more than three decades after the DEA began working there. He expelled U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg last year and the Bush administration has decertified Bolivia’s anti-drug campaign.

Citing senior law enforcement officials, the Times reported this is the first time the DEA has been ordered to pull its entire operation out of a country.

Officials said DEA personnel would be redeployed to bordering countries, where they could monitor developments in Bolivia.

Morales, 49, has led Bolivia for three years, raising taxes on foreign companies and using the revenue for senior pensions and increased public works spending. Leftist-leaning Venezuela and communist Cuba have been close allies.

Bolivians voted Sunday to swing their country toward socialism and allow Morales to seek re-election this year.

– Article from United Press International on January 29, 2009.