USAID Environmental Program to be Expelled from Bolivia

La Razón, La Paz, 19-Apr-2011: The Environmental and Economic Development program developed by USAID in Bolivia will be the first project expelled by Evo Morales' government. The MAS political party continues to compile proof in order to fully expel USAID... a diplomatic source and MAS party congressman Antonio Molina confirmed to the Bolivian newspaper La Razón that the US program's expulsion is due to political interference by USAID in hydrocarbons projects that Morales' administration is coordinating with the government of Venezuela in northern La Paz.

"The work being done by transnational companies in northern La Paz demonstrates that USAID, and therefore the United States, wanted to control the region, thus taking advantage of the natural resources. It is also a strategy to destroy the good relationship between Bolivia and Venezuela. Therefore, and with the complaints we've gathered, the Environmental program will be the first to go," revealed Molina, who is the chairman of the Amazon Region Commission on Land, Territory, Water, Natural Resources and the Environment of the Cámara de Diputados (Chamber of Deputies, or Bolivia's equivalent to the House of Representatives).

Along the same lines the diplomatic source, who requested his/her identity not be revealed, reported that Morales' cabinet of ministers did not agree with the intentions of the MAS party assembly members to expel all USAID programs.

The Environmental and Economic Development project will be the first to leave the country, although other programs may continue operating.

"The intention of the MAS legislators is to expel USAID completely. However, the cabinet does not want to do so. To date they've only decided upon the expulsion of the Environmental program due to the petroleum exploration projects that exist in northern La Paz and other points of the country," reported the source.

PDVSA, the Venezuelan state-owned oil company, through Petroandina, a company formed in partnership with Bolivian state-owned oil company Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB), invested 115 million dollars, of a total of 888 million, to explore for new oil and gas fields in Bolivia.

Since 2008, Petroandina invested 110 million just in northern La Paz for hydrocarbons exploration. The remaining six million dollars were invested in southern Bolivia.

According to data from the U.S. Embassy, Barack Obama's government cooperates with 14.4 million dollars to support the Environmental and Economic Development program in Bolivia. This project cooperates with micro and small companies that promote the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. USAID provides technical assistance throughout the rural area.

The head of the MAS party for the Chamber of Deputies, Edwin Tupa, presented documents to the president of the Legislative Assembly, Bolivia's vice president Álvaro García Linera, on the 28th of March to expel USAID. He accused the US agency of interference and destabilization in Bolivia.

The Environmental Law

Deputy Antonio Molina (MAS party) reported that the Environmental Law will be updated with the preparation of various informative forums. The first event will take place today at the Hotel Presidente, where the balance and perspectives of the law will be analyzed.

USAID contributes $62 million to cooperation programs

This year the U.S. cooperation programs have a budget of 62 million dollars approved by the Congress, according to data from the U.S. Embassy in La Paz.

All U.S. cooperation programs are carried out by USAID and institutions that act as its counterparts, such as government ministries, and departmental and municipal governments. These programs offer their support to the Bolivian government's National Development Plan.

About 16.4 million dollars are destined to supporting health programs. "The USAID health programs support and complement the Ministry of Health and Sports 2010-2020 Sector Development Plan and work in the areas of maternal-infant health, as well as the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS," according to a report by the US Embassy in Bolivia.

In the area of Alternative Integral Development, the United States contributes 15.6 million dollars to support the Bolivian Government "in expanding economic opportunities, increasing income, and improving the living conditions of over 15,000 Bolivian families in areas such as the Yungas". The Environment and Economic Development program has a budget of 14.4 million dollars.

Source: La Razón - Date: 19-Apr-2011 - Read this Article in Spanish

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