More changes are unfolding in the Andean country of Bolivia, since the ouster of former leftist President Evo Morales after allegations of election fraud. The country’s interim government has unveiled a new anti-terror unit that is designed to dismantle foreign groups “threatening” the country.
Members of the interim government, including Interior Minister Arturo Murillo, were on hand in La Paz for the unveiling of this new force known right now only as GAT. The unit presented 60 black-clad, masked members to the press. Its numbers will undoubtedly grow in the near future.
In the brief look at the new unit, which the government allowed the public, a few things stood out. The soldiers had a mishmash of weapons from heavy assault rifles, bullpups, submachine guns of different manufacturers as well as shotguns and sniper rifles.
One other thing, which may be nothing but a coincidence, is that the unit’s patch is nearly identical to that which American Special Forces troops, who have been through the Army’s counter-terrorist school, used to wear in an unauthorized manner.
In the picture shown, the soldiers’ patches are remarkably similar to those worn by Army Special Forces troops who were graduates of the SOT, SFARTAETC course at Ft. Bragg. This could mean nothing — or it could mean that the interim government is rekindling old relationships with the United States.
For many years, American SF and SEAL units worked closely with Bolivian military units. And DEA/FBI law enforcement agencies tried to help the government stem the flow of illegal drugs, mainly cocaine, which would flow through the Chapare Valley to Colombia and then to the U.S. and Europe.
Murillo, in addressing the press, had some pointed remarks about not only the unit, but also about the policies of the former president. “This anti-terrorist group has a mission of dismantling absolutely all the terrorist cells that are threatening our homeland,” Murillo said on Tuesday.
He added that the state had to act to “free Bolivia from these narcoterrorists who have settled in the country in the last 14 years,” in effect slamming the policies of Morales, who ended cooperation with DEA’s counternarcotics activities in Bolivia.
Rodolfo Montero, commander of the police forces, added that “this group will be destined to dismantle foreign groups that were trained and guided to sow terror to citizens.”
Opponents of the interim government, however, and supporters of Morales are already quick to condemn this new unit as a tool for suppressing not foreigners threatening the country, but rather Morales’s supporters.
Morales himself took to Twitter to comment on the formation of the unit: “The coup plotters who assaulted power in #Bolivia, now invent incredible stories to blame others for the terror they themselves are imposing on the State.”
He added that “the only terrorist plan they are executing is they (the current Bolivian Government) with blood and fire against all Bolivians.”
President Jeanine Anez, who heads up the interim right-wing government, has been quick to blame foreign interference and name names, calling out Cuba, Venezuela, Peru, and Colombia at different times as meddlers in Bolivian affairs.
She said that foreigners have been stoking the violent protests that for days had paralyzed the country.
The Bolivian government recently arrested an Argentine national and held him in the eastern city of Santa Cruz. It turned out that he is a former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla. The government claims that he tried to provoke violence there.