The president-elect accused of traison officers that delivered 28 missiles to the US
Hours before his inauguration as the first Bolivian president of indigenous origin, Evo Morales has to deal with a major crisis in the country's military. Following a denounce made public by Morales's Movement To Socialism Party, the incumbent president Eduardo Rodriguez Tuesday sacked the army chief and ordered a probe into the destruction in the US of 28 missiles in October.
Following military advice, Mr. Rodriguez had authorised American help with the decommissioning of the missiles as he had been told the ageing Chinese missiles posed a safety risk. At the time, Evo Morales - who will take office on Sunday - had called it a US plot to weaken Bolivian defences. President Rodriguez now admitted the mistake and said he would seek clarification from Washington about the issue.
“It is something we will have to deal with. We will deepen investigation and the Justice will have to try army officers under charges of treason,” claimed Morales on Wednesday shortly after it became known that Defence Minister Gonzalo Mendez had resigned so his role could be investigated.
Meanwhile, sacked army chief General Marcelo Antezana is expected to face disciplinary proceedings after he published a letter in several newspapers, demanding that the government release the documents pertaining to the decommissioning. In October, he had issued a declaration saying he was the sole person responsible for the decision.
In an attempt to decline responsibilty, Antenaza later said he had acted under strong American pressure for the missiles to be taken to a US base.
“We were right when we denounced the episode and when we tried to impeach the Commander in Chief (President Eduardo Rodriguez). The facts prove now that we were right,” added Morales in declarations to the press after arriving in La Paz from a short visit to Argentina.
During an aired statement, outgoing president Eduardo Rodriguez Wednesday announced that he will request formal explanations to the US Embassy to La Paz about the role of its personnell in the operation.
“We apprecciate their colllaboration in many fields, but we think that we need to examine this case with absolute transparency,” said Rodriguez in a speech addressed to the White House. He also added that the US military attache in La Paz refused to report about the participation of US diplomats in the affair.