Sometimes governments get caught doing something so stupid that as hard as they try, they can’t sweep it under the rug. This was the situation in Bolivia in relation to the recent visit to Bolivia by the controversial Ahmad Vahidi, Iran’s defense minister. Vahidi has been wanted by Interpol since 2009 for being one of the masterminds of the AMIA bombing. AMIA (Argentine Israelite Mutual Association) was bombed on the morning of July 18, 1994, causing the deaths of 85 innocent people (including six Bolivians) and wounding over 300.
Bolivia and its ideological allies, Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, and Nicaragua, have been busily making friends with the Iranian government for some time now. Vahidi was invited by the Bolivian government to inaugurate the Escuela de Defensa de los Ejércitos de la ALBA (Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de América) [The School of Defense of the Armies of the Bolivarian Alliance for the People of the Américas]. ALBA supposedly was formed in response to other organizations where participation by Latin American countries with close ties to the U.S. predominates.
The circumstances surrounding Vahidi’s visit are not clear. What is clear is that he was officially invited by the Bolivian government to attend two functions including the defense school’s inauguration. However, when he arrived in Bolivia, the Argentine prosecutor of the AMIA bombing, Alberto Nisman, contacted the head of Bolivian Interpol in La Paz, Coronel Andrés Zapata, to complain about Vahidi’s presence in Bolivia. Cnl. Zapata said that he couldn’t take action until he clarified that the Interpol warrant was current. Vahidi, who appeared on the morning of May 31 at the first official event, stood between President Evo Morales and Bolivian Minister of Defense María Cecilia Chacon. However, Vahidi missed the actual inauguration that afternoon because he was on a plane back to Iran.
The official Bolivian version is that Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca was informed that Vahidi was wanted by Interpol and after reviewing the situation immediately expelled Vahidi from the country and apologized profusely to Argentine Foreign Minister Héctor Timmerman. However, recent information given by Bolivian Minister of Justice Nilda Copa shows that Bolivia did not expel anyone. Vahidi got an order from Tehran to return immediately to his own country.
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