Bolivia’s new government expels Cuban officials, recalls its diplomatic staff from Venezuela

Bolivia’s new government expels Cuban officials, recalls its diplomatic staff from Venezuela

15/11 - 16:57 - Bolivia’s caretaker government isn’t wasting any time overhauling its foreign policy, announcing Friday that it will expel hundreds of Cuban officials and break ties with longtime ally Venezuela.

In a series of statements, Bolivia’s new foreign minister, Karen Longaric, told local media that about 725 Cubans — including doctors and medical staff — would begin leaving Bolivia on Friday.

“I think their exit is opportune and necessary,” she said, according to La Republica. “I believe this will allow us to maintain the respectful relations that Cuba and Bolivia have always had.”

In that same interview she also said she’d be recalling Bolivia’s diplomatic staff from Venezuela. Later, asked if she would maintain ties with Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro, she said, “Of course we’ll break diplomatic relations with the Maduro government,” the Spanish news agency EFE reported.

She also accused Venezuelan officials of acting “against Bolivia’s internal security.”

Cuba on Friday accused Bolivia of detaining four of its nationals under false pretenses, and said it was recalling its medical brigades for their own safety.

In a statement, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry said that on Nov. 13, amid widespread protests, four members of its medical delegation were detained in El Alto, outside of La Paz, with money intended to pay the rent for 107 Cuban doctors.

However, the Bolivian police accused the four members of being agitators and using that money to support protests in favor of former Bolivian President Evo Morales.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls on Bolivian authorities to stop exacerbating the irresponsible and hateful anti-Cuban sentiment, and the defamation and the instigation of violence against Cuban collaborators,” Cuba said in a statement. The doctors “have been providing health services in solidarity with their Bolivian brothers.”

Morales, who had been in power since 2006, resigned Sunday under pressure from mass protests and the military and fled to Mexico. He claims his ouster was a coup, and his followers have been staging demonstrations since he left.

His critics, however, say he was legally deposed for trying to steal last month’s presidential election.

Jeanine Añez, who had been the second vice president of the Senate, assumed the presidency earlier this week, even though Morales’ MAS party denied her the legislative quorum necessary to make the succession legal, constitutional scholars have said.

Añez, who has been recognized by Washington and other countries, has said she will hold new elections as soon as possible.