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US Demands Weapons Return From Bolivia

The United States is demanding the return of weapons supplied to support an elite Bolivian counterterrorism force who, since the election of Evo Morales as president, have had their leadership purged and replaced with those aligned with the new leftist militant president. The Bolivian CT unit has been trained by elements of the Navy Seals and Delta Force and the weapons wanted back include “high-powered sniper rifles with laser target finders, night-vision goggles, electronic-surveillance devices and communications sets used for encrypted or coded transmissions.” Morales has ordered his men not to return the equipment and Col. Daniel Barreto informed them that he was heading to the base to recover the weapons. A showdown here is developing.

Evo Morales has also personally filed treason charges against his predecessor, former interim President Eduardo Rodriguez, for obsolete Chinese missiles that ended up in the United States. In an operation before Morales was elected, the CIA, with cooperation of some in the previous government, snared 38 of Bolivia’s Chinese-made HN-5 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles. Former President Rodriguez has said that he was unaware of their ‘shipment’ to the United States. Formally, the charges against the former president are ‘spying, falsifying documents and subjecting the country to foreign control.’

The missiles were reportedly due to be destroyed, according to the Washington Post article. However, Bill Gertz reported in late February that both the US and the leaders of the Bolivian CT team feared that they would fall into the hands of terrorists aligned with Evo Morales and his leftist movement if they won the election, which Morales did in December. Interestingly, the Chinese have offered to replace the confiscated ManPAD SAMs, surely with a newer, more capable version of the Chinese copy of the Soviet SA-7.

Chinese influence continues to increase in South America as the continent’s countries race farther and farther to the left with leaders like Venezuela’s Higo Chavez, Argentina’s President Nestor Kirchner, and now Bolivia’s Evo Morales, all of whom rub elbows affectionately with Fidel Castro. Add to the mix the ever-increasing overtures also made to them by leaders like Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and it becomes clear that South America is becoming a strong bastion of anti-American governments.

Not surprisingly, Morales’ government is seeking to get coca removed from international toxic substance lists. While Evo Morales was widely reported as a simple grassroots coca farmer, in America we tend to call such powerful men in coca production drug lords. Just last week, after touting the nutritional value of coca leaves for their high calcium and phosphorus content (among other things), Morales’ own Foreign Minister, David Choquehuanca, said that they were so healthy that “Possibly, instead of giving milk in our school breakfasts, we need to give coca leaves to our children.”

Unlike Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales was elected in an election that was seen as open and fair, as Bolivia’s anti-Americanism has grown quite strong among the grassroots. But, while critics point to the American demand for weapons return as hypocritical to the American support for democracy, critics could not be farther from the truth.

Just as is the case in the Palestinians’ free choice to elect the terrorist group Hamas to positions of governmental leadership, those elsewhere who freely choose poor leadership in the form of drug lords and/or terrorists will simply have to live with the consequences. No nation is obligated to continue any form of support when the substance of such support must first pass through the hands of such men.

With freedom comes equal measure of responsibility. Hamas and Morales were not responsible choices. America is not bound to support the mechanisms of their rule, freely chosen or otherwise.