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US Diplomat Leaves Bolivia on Expulsion Order


A U.S. diplomat has left Bolivia, three days after President Evo Morales declared him persona non-grata and ordered him out of the country for allegedly conspiring against the government.

Francisco Martinez flew out of Bolivia Thursday, complying with the order to leave the country within 72 hours. Martinez was the second secretary at the U.S. Embassy in La Paz.

Last month, Bolivia's government accused Martinez of working with a former Bolivian police officer who, it alleged, infiltrated state-run energy company YPFB on behalf of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

The French news agency Monday quoted Mr. Morales as alleging that Martinez was "in permanent contact with opposition groups during the entire period of the conspiracy," which, the president said, caused Bolivia's anti-government unrest last September. The U.S. State Department called the expulsion order unwarranted and unjustified.

The expulsion means the charge d'affaires at the embassy, Kris Urs, is now the top U.S. diplomat in La Paz.

On Thursday, Urs said relations between Bolivia and the United States are being reviewed.

In September, the Bolivian president expelled the U.S. ambassador, Philip Goldberg, blaming him for inciting violent anti-government protests. The State Department called Goldberg's expulsion a "grave error" and dismissed the accusation as "baseless."

Last year, President Morales also ordered the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to cease operations in Bolivia, accusing DEA agents of spying and supporting anti-government protests. U.S. officials rejected those accusations as well.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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