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Bolivia expels US ambassador for fanning protests
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Bolivian President Evo Morales on Wednesday requested US ambassador to Bolivia Philip Goldberg to leave the country immediately, accusing him of "heading the division" inside Bolivia by encouraging, together with the opposition, the protests against his government.

According to reports reaching Lima from La Paz, administrative capital of Bolivia, Bolivian President Morales declared Goldberg as "persona non grata" at a ceremony in the Government Palace. He told Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca to notify him to leave the country immediately.

"Without fear of anybody, without fear of the empire (US) today in front of the Bolivian people I declare Mr. (Philip) Goldberg, US ambassador persona non grata," Morales said when he launched the program "Mi primer empleo (my first job)".

Morales instructed Choquehuanca to inform Goldberg, according to the legal and diplomatic frames, about the decision made by the Bolivian government.

"We don't want separatist or divisive people or people conspiring against national unity. We do not want people who attempt to sabotage democracy," Morales said.

Morales said that before being accredited as ambassador to Bolivia, Goldberg was chief of the US mission in Pristina, Kosovo, and there he consolidated the region's separation, leaving thousands of people dead.

According to the Bolivian government, hours before the civic leader of the southeastern province of Santa Cruz Branco Marinkovic returned from his trip to Miami, US groups of autonomists and criminals staged plundering, beatings and all sorts of other terrorist activities in the center of the city Santa Cruz, capital of the Santa Cruz province.

They also occupied state facilities and practically destroyed them.

Before the midday of Tuesday, the unionists started a march around the center of the city and later stormed the National Taxes building, stole equipment and destroyed everything they could lay hands on.

The violence spread to the building of the National Institute of Agrarian Reform (INRA) and later to the facilities of the National Company of Telecommunications (Entel), where they plundered and destroyed the facilities.

Morales said that the decision to expel Goldberg is a tribute to the historical struggle of the Bolivian people against the neo-liberal model and against all kinds of foreign interference.

"I want to tell you, brothers and sisters, the Bolivian people that it is the obligation of the national government and of the Bolivian people to defend our national unity," Morales said.

Morales said only organized people can defend and recover democracy from the separatists. He called on the social movements and the people to defend Bolivia's unity.

During the past few weeks, violent acts have increased in opposition-controlled provinces of Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando.

The opposition rightists demand full restitution of the Direct Tax on Hydrocarbons (IDH), which Morales reduced 30 percent to found the so-called Rent of Dignity, which is aimed at helping people over 60 years old who do not have a pension.

The opposition is also against holding a referendum to approve the new Political Constitution, which was already approved by parliament in December 2007.

(Xinhua News Agency September 11, 2008)

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