LA PAZ, Bolivia – Outgoing President Eduardo Rodriguez fired Bolivia's army chief on Tuesday over his decision to have 28 Chinese shoulder-launched missiles destroyed in the United States.
Gen. Marcelo Antezana later appeared on Bolivian television to say Rodriguez had made a "bad interpretation" of his role in the October destruction of the missiles, which led to accusations of treason by Evo Morales, then a presidential candidate.
Morales — who later won elections in December — revealed the destruction of the missiles by the United States and said it had left Bolivia with almost no air defense.
Rodriguez said he made the decision to destroy the missiles on the recommendation of the United Nations and the Organization of American States after receiving information from the army that they were obsolete and a safety hazard.
Morales' Movement Toward Socialism Party filed a suit against Rodriguez in October, with some members claiming the missiles were in working condition. Party members have distanced themselves from the suit in recent weeks.
The United States has been campaigning to rid Latin America of portable arms that could fall into the hands of terrorists. A State Department spokesman earlier said Bolivia requested U.S. help in removing the deteriorating Chinese-made surface-to-air missiles.
On Tuesday, government news agency ABI reported that Rodriguez would make a formal inquiry with the U.S. Embassy to investigate their role in the matter.
The firing comes as Rodriguez, a caretaker president appointed after the resignation of Carlos Mesa in June, prepares to hand power to Morales this Sunday.