Col. Luis Arce Gomez, regarded as the strong man of Bolivia's military government and accused by its critics of maintaining ties to drug traffickers, was removed from his post of interior minister in a surprise Cabinet reshuffle yesterday.
No reason was given for the reshuffle, but Bolivia's military government has been chafing in diplomatic isolation since it seized power in July. Col. Arce was replaced by Army Gen. Celso Torrelio Villa, commander of the military academy. It was not announced wat would become of Arce.
In anothe unexplained move last week, the Foreign Ministry fired its three-man mission in Washington. Yesterday, Mario Rolon Amaya, a civilian who has held Cabinet posts in previous military-led governments, was appointed foreign minister in the place of an Air Force general. Also removed was education minister Ariel Coca.
Arca visted Washington in November in part ot rebut public charges by the U.S. government that high Bolivian officials were implicated in te cocaine trade. The Carter administration cut off aid to drug control programs here on the basis that it was unlikely to be effective under this government.
Arce said then that the United States should control the cocaine by purchasing the entire Bolivian crop of coca leaves.