Bolivia to expel Mexico ambassador, Spanish diplomats

The Mexican embassy became the centre of a diplomatic row after sheltering Morales’ ex-govt members. (AP pic)

LA PAZ: Bolivia’s interim president, Jeanine Anez, announced Monday that the country will expel Mexico’s ambassador and two Spanish diplomats, escalating a diplomatic row over an alleged attempt to extract an ex-government aide.

“The constitutional government that I preside over has decided to declare persona non grata the ambassador of Mexico in Bolivia, Maria Teresa Mercado, the charge d’affaires of Spain, Cristina Borreguero, and the (Spanish) consul, Alvaro Fernandez,” Anez said.

The announcement came after Bolivia accused Spanish embassy staff of trying to infiltrate the Mexican mission in La Paz with a group of masked men to extract a wanted former aide of ex-president Evo Morales, which Madrid sharply denied.

Morales – who resigned in November after weeks of protests over his controversial re-election – stands accused of sedition and terrorism and is living in exile in Argentina.

The Mexican embassy in La Paz became the centre of the diplomatic row after it sheltered nine or more officials from Morales’ former government.

Both Spain and Mexico said the incident occurred on Friday when Borreguero paid a brief visit to Mexico’s ambassador.

But Madrid issued a strongly worded denial over the alleged attempt to extract the former Morales aide.

“The ministry wishes to clarify that the charge d’affaires was purely making a courtesy visit and vehemently denies there was any aim to facilitate the exit of people holed up inside the building,” Spain’s foreign ministry said in a statement.