Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Morales Seeks Respect for Bolivia and Mother Earth

(digitalwarriormedia) Relations between Bolivia and the United States are closer to being normalized, according to comments made by Bolivia’s President Evo Morales.

Last month, while in New York City to attend a high-level meeting at the United Nations, Morales said his country has a great desire to improve relations with the U.S.

Things have been chilly between the two countries since 2008, when Bolivia expelled U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg and Bolivian Ambassador Gustavo Guzman was summarily expelled from Washington D.C.

Morales insisted that it was his obligation as President to ensure that Bolivian sovereignty is respected. At the time of his expulsion, Ambassador Goldberg was accused of fomenting anti-government violence and unrest.

“We do not want diplomatic relations that will result in conspiracies,” said Morales during a morning press conference on July 27.

An agreement has been in development since 2009, with the Bolivian government maintaining that the bilateral relationship should be based upon mutual cooperation, without impositions.

Yet, Bolivia’s outspoken leader admitted apprehension, noting that his July trip was the first time he had traveled to the U.S. this year.

“I am very afraid of the U.S. government because I know they are political operators,” explained Morales.

He spoke with reference to subversive activity by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) which is made under the pretext of drug trafficking, as well as recent rumors that his presidential plane might be detained in the U.S. due to suspicion of cocaine.

When asked about these rumors, Morales attributed the information to sources coming from the U.S., two months prior to his trip.

A former union leader and coca farmer, Morales explained how he has been labeled a terrorist in the past and also a drug trafficker because his government supports socialist struggles and an anti-imperialist ideology. But Morales denounced all of these false accusations and efforts to discredit himself and his administration.

Historically Morales has been a strong critic of U.S. interventionist policies in Latin America and around the world. He noted that governments and leaders who do not subscribe to a western capitalist model are often targeted by the U.S.

“How can we be pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist when this is no solution for the peoples of the world?” asked Morales.

Humanity and the Right to Water

Within the mainstream press, Morales’ comments about the U.S. overshadowed the broader message he was bringing to the UN about humanity and respect for Mother Earth.

Morales was invited to speak on the one-year anniversary of a UN resolution that recognizes access to water and sanitation as a human right.

“If water is a human right than it cannot be subject to trade from which companies can make money from water. If water is a human right,” explained Morales, "it must be a public service.”

“Morales noted that the enemy of water is global warming. The Bolivian people face a host of water crises as a result of changing atmospheric temperatures.

Severe fresh water shortages have been forecasted as the Andean glaciers rapidly disappear. And this past year, Bolivia experienced some of the severest droughts and heaviest frosts in decades.

“Without water there is no life, no food and the planet cannot survive. We must guarantee the natural resources necessary for life,” said Morales expressing his belief that without water, there are no human rights.

The small South American country has brought some of the most progressive climate change recommendations to the world stage via UN resolutions and negotiations within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Bolivia’s submission of a resolution on the right to water is part of this progressive strategy.

The Morales administration has called on polluting countries to pay their fare share of “climate debt” to assist poorer countries with technology and combat the effects of climate change. And they have led the charge to demand an International Tribunal of Climate and Environmental Justice that will penalize those countries and multinational companies that pollute the environment.

“If we don’t respect Mother Earth and its rights, it is difficult to think that we will respect human rights. The human being cannot live without the planet, without Mother Earth,” said Morales.

And Bolivia began its work at home before bringing its resolution to the UN. In January 2009, a new national constitution was approved in Bolivia which makes water and the access to basic services a human right to be guaranteed by the national government.

To assist with this national goal, Spain has committed $100 million in credits to Bolivia, through the International Development Bank, for investment in water systems and development.

Transparent Cooperation

While expressing gratitude for the assistance from Spain, Morales said his government would like to see similar bilateral cooperation with the U.S.

One of the major points of contention between the two governments is a difference in the coverage and delivery mechanisms of U.S. cooperation in Bolivia.

When asked specifically about U.S. military contractors who would help fight drug trafficking in Bolivia, Morales expressed disapproval of the U.S. strategy.

“We should be responsible and try to reduce poverty. And what the U.S. wants is for contractors to handle the money. We’re not against drug trafficking,” said Morales, “but they speak of a cooperation fund and they want to appoint the people who will manage or administer these funds.”

President Morales described how in the past, 70-80% of the cooperation funds managed by the U.S. would be designated for administration, with only 20-30% actually going to investment in alternative development programs.

“I know that 100 percent can go to investment,” explained Morales. “That is what I am doing with Spain, Venezuela, and China. There is no reason why a piece should go to administrative expenses. If the people of the U.S. want to cooperate, they need to help the people that really who require it.”

Morales went on to say that his government is only asking that the decision of managing economic resources be made cooperatively and in a transparent way.

On Saturday August 6, Bolivia celebrated its 186th year of Independence from Spain.

Greetings were sent from the American people by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said, “As you celebrate this special day and honor your history, know that the United States stands with you. I look forward to strengthening and deepening this partnership for the benefit of both our people.”

If the tenet of mutual respect can be observed, that partnership may be much closer to becoming a reality.

Photos: ABI, Blue Planet Project



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