Monday, September 22, 2008

Diplomatic Snub Over

It looks like Honduras' diplomatic snub concluded last week. After a one-week delay to show its support for Bolivia, Deputy Foreign Minister Eduardo Rosales said Honduras would formally receive the credentials of the career diplomat Hugo Llorens on Friday (September 16). AP reports that Ambassador Llorens told reporters after meeting with Rosales on Tuesday that "relations between the U.S. and Honduras are excellent." He said he looks forward to a face-to-face meeting with President Zelaya. Meanwhile, Ambassador Philip Goldberg, most recently the President's personal representative to Bolivia is now back in Washington and has recently given an interview to Mac Margolis of Newsweek. Below is a brief excerpt of the interview. You can read the entire piece here. Newsweek: There's been a lot of media on your expulsion from Bolivia. What was the official reason and how did it happen? Ambassador Goldberg: I was in a meeting [on Sept. 10] with the Bolivian foreign minister. I had gone to see him after receiving a call from the Bolivian government informing me that our D.E.A [drug enforcement agency] personnel had to leave immediately from the Chapare region, where president Evo Morales is also the president of the coca growers federation. During that conversation, Morales called the minister's cell phone to say that he had just announced—at a public event, not through the normal diplomatic channels—that he was declaring me persona non grata. The official notification arrived the following day.

Newsweek: The State Department talks about pursuing a positive agenda in the region. Has that agenda been damaged? Ambassador Goldberg: In Bolivia, certainly. Our main activities in the country are assistance programs, which have been demonized in many ways. They've targeted our alternative development programs in the Chapare region, where coca (the raw material of cocaine] is grown. They decided to virtually expel DEA without any kind of explanation. These are not cooperative gestures.

Newsweek: I see you have been described as the former ambassador to Bolivia. Is this final or do you hope to go back to La Paz? Ambassador Goldberg: I'm not going back. I am the former ambassador to Bolivia.

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