- Barack Obama - Bolivia - Cuba - Latin America - USA - Venezuela
AFP - President Barack Obama on Sunday denied a claim by Bolivian President Evo Morales that he was targeted by a US assassination plot, following the police killing of three suspects in the South American country.
"Specifically on the Bolivia issue, I just want to make absolutely clear that I am absolutely opposed and condemn any efforts at violent overthrows of democratically elected governments," Obama said at a news conference in Trinidad and Tobago after attending a summit with Morales and other Latin American leaders.
"The United States, obviously, has a history in this region that's not always appreciated from the perspective of some," Obama said.
But, he added, "I am responsible for how this administration acts and we will be respectful to those democratically elected governments, even when we disagree with them."
Obama on Saturday had denied Morales's allegation directly to the Bolivian leader during a meeting with South American leaders.
Morales, a far-left leader who is one of the fiercest US critics in Latin America, told reporters after that meeting that he had asked Obama to condemn a plot he said had the involvement of right-wing opponents in Bolivia.
The Bolivian president said his police force had shot dead three men in a hotel in the eastern Bolivian city of Santa Cruz last Thursday.
He described the men as foreign mercenaries hired to assassinate him, as well as Vice President Alvaro Garcia and Santa Cruz's conservative governor Ruben Costas.
Bolivian police said two people were also arrested in the raid against the suspected "terrorist" group.
There was confusion as to the nationalities of some of the suspects.
Morales, who initially spoke of the plot during a visit to Venezuela on Thursday, said "they are foreign mercenaries -- they are Irish, Hungarians and of course there are no Bolivians."
But police in the La Paz said some Bolivians were involved.
And Garcia told a news conference the foreigners involved were Croats and Irish.
An Irish minister on Sunday identified an Irishman killed in the police raid as Michael Dwyer, 24, a construction management graduate with no criminal record.
"Twenty-four-year-olds do trot around the world and the fact that they wear military garb doesn't necessarily mean they have any military involvement," Ireland's minister for Europe, Dick Roche, said on RTE public radio.
Roche expressed surprise that a photograph of the body of one of the dead men he had seen had shown that his hands were tied.
"His hands were clearly tied in front. That is most unusual. If you are removing a body from a scene, I cannot understand the basis on which the hands would be tied," he said.
A foreign ministry spokesman in Dublin said a diplomat had travelled from Argentina to Bolivia to secure the release of Dwyer's body.
"The circumstances of how he found himself to be in Bolivia and how he was killed are still being investigated," the spokesman said.
In a statement, Dwyer's family said they were "shocked and devastated."