CARACAS, Thursday January 12, 2006 | Update
Bolivia strongly rejects Chávez' remarks
Thursday January 12, 2006  01:21 PM

President Hugo Chávez' remarks on an alleged plot against the administration of Bolivian president-elect Evo Morales were strongly rejected in Bolivia by incumbent President Eduardo Rodríguez, the Army commander and several media.

Rodríguez stressed that Bolivia "is not a protectorate" but it is "a peaceful, sovereign country with an absolute and clear notion of its own sovereignty, self-determination. We need no one to come and tell us what to do," AP reported.
Bolivian Army commander general Marcelo Antezana Thursday replied to Chávez' declarations on Tuesday suggesting that some Bolivian military officers would be involved in a conspiracy against Morales allegedly planned by the US Embassy in La Paz.

"I do not accept that President Chávez makes reference to the military. He should tell us the names (of the officers involved) so that we can punish them or act cautiously. Here and anywhere around the world any coup d'etat requires support from a part of the Armed Forces, if not all," Antezana told TV network ATB.

In Bolivia, he added, "Army generals are the major defenders of democracy."

Chávez stated that the United States was surely trying to contact "coup-plotters" in Bolivia to destabilize the future government of Morales. He ensured that Washington was behind a plot to overthrow Morales and that Venezuela would support Morales in the face of a likely US attack.

In an editorial, La Razón daily said: "Chávez' harsh remarks affect Bolivia, as they evidence his influence on Morales and his government."

Meanwhile, during his visit to South Africa, Morales said he is willing to hold an ample dialogue with Washington and even to meet with President George W. Bush.

"As government representatives, we could meet with Hugo Chávez or George W. Bush. We are open to dialogue. But in the case of the United States, first they have to explain the accusations they made that I am a 'narco-terrorist', a member of the 'coca mafia' and a 'drug trafficker'," Morales said.


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