Though the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia formally denied any involvement in an alleged assassination plot against the Bolivian president, the Bolivian government is pressing ahead with plans to investigate.
SUCRE, Bolivia — Cables leaked by U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning suggest the U.S. government offered material support to enemies of the Bolivian government and its president, Evo Morales, even as those enemies made violent plans against him.
The cables in question were published in August in “The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to US Empire,” a book in which multiple journalists along with Julian Assange analyze the contents of the treasure trove of cables Manning provided to WikiLeaks in 2010.
The book devotes a section to what “The WikiLeaks Files” contributors Alexander Main and Dan Beeton call “the day-to-day mechanics of Washington’s political intervention in Latin America.”
Morales spent years resisting the United States’ Latin American agenda, leading to a gradual escalation of U.S. attempts to destabilize his government. The Bolivian government now accuses the U.S. government of supporting plans to overthrow the Morales government or even assassinate the president.
In an email to MintPress News in response to a previous version of this article, Beeton noted that while the cables do reveal “questionable conduct by the U.S. embassy,” they do not directly support the allegations lodged by the Bolivian government:
“We note that a U.S. embassy cable from La Paz in 2008, during a violent secessionist movement, took the possibility of Evo Morales death or overthrow seriously. Neither that cable, nor any others we have seen, reveal any U.S. plans to cause Morales’ death.”
TeleSUR, a Latin American TV network, reported last week that the Bolivian government is continuing a formal investigation into the allegations, despite denials by U.S. government officials:
“In a strongly worded statement the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia said, ‘The government of the United States was not involved in any conspiracy, attempt to overthrow the government of Bolivia or assassinate President Morales. This kind of unfounded allegations does not contribute to improving bilateral relations.’”
These allegations of a U.S. plot mirror recent revelations that the DEA is targeting the Morales government with secret drug indictments after his administration kicked the U.S. agency out of Bolivia to pursue their own, locally-oriented and highly successful cocaine-reduction strategies.
Contrary to the official denials, the WikiLeaks cables show how the U.S. escalated attempts to put pressure on Morales and his government over several years. According to Main and Beeton’s analysis of the cables, pressure on Morales began soon after his 2005 election as part of a wave of left-leaning candidates winning elections in Latin America. But Morales resisted U.S. directives and continued with his plans to nationalize the fossil fuels industry and move away from dependence on foreign aid and international loans.
The cables suggest that starting from 2007 the U.S. government began providing aid to the “Media Luna” region of Bolivia, which is controlled by Morales’ opposition:
“A USAID report from 2007 stated that its Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) ‘ha[d] approved 101 grants for $4,066,131 to help departmental governments operate more strategically.’ Funds also went to local indigenous groups that were ‘opposed to Evo Morales’ vision for indigenous communities.’”
A year later, the residents of Media Luna were rebelling against the Morales government in clashes that led to 20 deaths. A coup seemed imminent, and the opposition had the support of U.S. officials:
“[T]he United States was in regular communication with the leaders of the separatist opposition movement, even as they spoke openly of ‘blow[ing] up gas lines’ and ‘violence as a probability to force the government to … take seriously any dialogue.’”
While officially supporting the Morales administration in public statements, the cables show the U.S. government preparing “a plan for immediate response in the event of a sudden emergency, i.e. a coup attempt or President Morales’ death.”
Tensions only eased as other South American governments declared their support for Bolivia’s democratically-elected government.
Juan Ramon Quintana, Bolivia’s minister of the presidency, emphasized his belief, based on his reading of the cables, that the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia took a direct role in the plot, according to teleSUR:
“In 2007 the embassy of the United States installed a Center of Operations in order to execute a civil-prefectural coup to apply plan A, which was the coup, and plan B, which was the assassination.”
TeleSUR noted that, “Relations between the U.S. and Bolivia have been strained since 2009, when President Morales expelled the U.S. ambassador from the country for supporting [an] opposition-led conspiracy against him,” a move that led then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to accuse the president of “fear-mongering.”
Correction: MintPress News had originally reported that U.S. embassy cables published and analyzed by WikiLeaks revealed a plot by the U.S. to overthrow or assassinate Bolivian President Evo Morales. While the cables do show that the U.S. was taking the threat of a coup or assassination against Morales seriously, and they do reveal questionable conduct on the part of U.S. officials, they do not suggest that the U.S. was, in fact, plotting an end to Morales or his government. We regret the error.