LA PAZ – Bolivia’s interim government announced on Tuesday the appointment of an ambassador to the United States for the first time in 11 years after the prior envoy was expelled by Washington amid a diplomatic conflict with the government of former president Evo Morales.
Walter Oscar Serrate was named as Bolivia’s ambassador to Washington by the interim government headed by Jeanine Añez in a radical shift of La Paz’s foreign policy that during the past 14 years under Morales.
Morales was forced by Bolivia’s military to resign the presidency on Nov. 10 amid a serious political crisis.
The Bolivian Foreign Ministry announced the appointment on Tuesday on Twitter without specifying when it occurred in a post with a picture of interim Foreign Minister Karen Longaric, along with Serrate.
The announcement emphasizes that the new ambassador was formerly Bolivia’s permanent representative to the United Nations.
Foreign Ministry sources told EFE that, for now, no detailed statement is scheduled regarding the appointment, which must be ratified by the Bolivian Senate.
Bolivia and the US broke relations at the ambassadorial level in 2008 when the Morales government expelled US envoy Philip Goldberg after accusing him of conspiracy, a charge Washington denied.
In response, the George W. Bush administration responded in like manner and expelled Bolivian envoy Gustavo Guzman.
After that incident, the two countries maintained relations only at the charge d’affaires level.
Although in 2011 the Barack Obama administration signed a mutual respect agreement with Bolivia setting forth certain steps to be taken to restore full diplomatic relations, along with an exchange of ambassadors, the Morales government on several occasions criticized the US for allegedly interfering in La Paz’s internal affairs on issues such as drug trafficking and democratic standards.
The Añez government, which took over on an interim basis on Nov. 12, has sharply departed from the course steered by Morales during his 14 years in power.
One of the first such decisions was to distance Bolivia from the governments of Cuba and Venezuela, which were political allies of Morales, to expel hundreds of Cuban doctors from Bolivia and recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s acting president after breaking relations with the Nicolas Maduro government in Caracas.
La Paz has also leveled harsh criticism at the Mexican government, to whom it presented a formal protest for allowing Morales, who obtained asylum in Mexico, to violate the provisional government’s understanding of the asylum regulations that would prevent him from making political statements about the situation in Bolivia.
Morales fled to Mexico on Nov. 11, a day after resigning, after a report by the Organization of American States warned of irregularities in the Oct. 20 presidential election in which he ostensibly won a fourth consecutive term in office.