What is Wrong at the US Embassy in Bolivia?
On July 29, 2007, just before the new volunteers were sworn in, they say embassy security officer Vincent Cooper visited the 30-person group to give a talk on safety and made his request about the Cubans and Venezuelans. "He said it had to do with the fight against terrorism," said one, of the briefing from the embassy official. Others remember being told, "It's for your own safety." Peace Corps Deputy Director Doreen Salazar remembers the incident vividly because she says it was the first time she had heard an embassy official make such a request to a Peace Corps group. Salazar says she and her fellow staff found the comment so out of line that they interrupted the briefing to clarify that volunteers did not have to follow the embassy's instructions, and she later complained directly to the embassy about the incident. "Peace Corps is an a-political institution," Salazar says. "We made it clear to the embassy that this was an inappropriate request, and they agreed." Indeed, the State Department admits having acknowledged the infraction and assuring Salazar that it would not happen again. There is no indication that any of the volunteers made reports to the U.S. Embassy. The press director at the Peace Corps told ABC News in no uncertain terms that the corps is not involved in any intelligence gathering. Read more.
Peace Corps policy against intelligence connections is based on the general authority of the Director of the Peace Corps
Any connection between the Peace Corps and the intelligence community would seriously compromise the ability of the Peace Corps to develop and maintain the trust and confidence of the people in the host countries we serve. Consistent with the policy of every administration since 1961, Director Ron Tschetter, himself a former Volunteer in India (1966-1968), has been very clear in re-affirming this long standing policy and, once again, stressing that Peace Corps Volunteers work on community service and nothing else. Peace Corps policy against intelligence connections is based on the general authority of the Director of the Peace Corps, provided by section 5 (a) of the Peace Corps Act, to establish the terms and conditions of service of Volunteers, by the Foreign Service Act of 1980, and on long-standing agency policy prohibiting any connection between Peace Corps and intelligence activity first enunciated by Peace Corps Director Sargent Shriver in 1961. Read more.
Bolivian President Evo Morales declares US embassy security officer Vincent Cooper as a “persona non grata”
Evo Morales explained that Cooper violated Bolivia’s legal norms by asking US students and Peace Corps workers to spy on Cuban and Venezuelan collaborators in Bolivia. Both the US Embassy and the State Department officially admitted to the espionage campaign for which Ambassador Philip Goldberg should be held responsible. The US Embassy will also need to explain its financial support for the Police Policy Studies Council, a parallel intelligence service dedicated to inciting destabilization campaigns. (ACN). Read more.
U.S. Diplomat Vincent Cooper Recalled After 'Spying' Allegations in Bolivia
The president of Bolivia voiced strong concerns and a U.S. diplomat has been recalled to Washington in the wake of an ABC News report that the diplomat asked a Fulbright scholar and Peace Corps volunteers to "spy" on Cubans and Venezuelans in Bolivia. Bolivian President Evo Morales today called on the armed forces to safeguard Bolivia's sovereignty against "espionage attempts" by the U.S. government. On Sunday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez referred specifically to the allegations made by Fulbright scholar Alexander van Schaick. "The United States had to admit to espionage," the fiery Socialist leader stated in Caracas. Read more.