Bolivia’s leader calls rival Chile the ‘Israel of South America’

(JTA) — President Evo Morales of Bolivia called Chile the “Israel of South America” ​​in condemning the expulsion of nine Bolivian officials on Wednesday.

The officials were detained in Chile after being accused of smuggling, theft and illegal possession of weapons. They are to be expelled from the country within the next 30 days.

Lashing out at Chile, Morales on Friday called the expulsion a “civil death” sentence and compared Chile’s actions with Israel’s in the Middle East, according to HispanTV.

“Chile is the Israel of South America: It imposes political walls, invisible and mental; Gives civil death to our 9 compatriots,” Morales wrote in his Twitter account.

Chile es el Israel de Sudamérica: impone muros políticos, invisibles y mentales; da muerte civil a nuestros 9 compatriotas 

Morales was one of Israel’s fiercest critics during the Gaza war in 2014, when Bolivia declared Israel a “terrorist state.” The country also canceled a 30-year-old agreement enabling Israelis to visit Bolivia without visas.

In another message, Morales compared Chile’s government to that of President Donald Trump.

“Trump sets up walls and discriminates against migrants looking for a better future; Chile sentenced to civil death those who pursue contraband,” he tweeted about the U.S. leader.

Seven Bolivian customs officers and two military men were arrested in a border incident in Chile on March 19. The two countries, never friendly, have recently clashed over a maritime dispute that dates back to Chile’s seizure of coastline and territory in 1879.

Bolivia is demanding access to the Pacific Ocean, while Chile is demanding that Bolivia allow it to navigate the Silala River.

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