Thursday, November 29, 2012

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sons Of Guns!

The discovery of an American diplomatic vehicle transporting weapons and ammunition in Bolivia has added yet another layer of tension to relations between the governments of Bolivia and the United States



On March 27, Bolivian police intercepted a van with diplomatic license plates carrying three shotguns, a revolver and more than 2,300 rounds of ammunition in the Amazonian province of Beni. The van’s driver and a police officer escorting him, both Bolivian citizens, were taken into custody for questioning. According to Bolivian Interior Minister Carlos Romero, the incident amounts to a “security threat to Bolivia, an act that calls into question the [US government’s] respect for the institution and laws of the Bolivian state.” He called for a full investigation into the matter.

The US embassy in La Paz, for its part, denies any wrongdoing. In a statement released yesterday, the embassy claims that the weapons were being relocated from a closed office in the city of Trinidad to Santa Cruz under an agreement with local police. The statement added that it is customary for Washington to contract local police in order to protect its diplomats overseas, and stressed that embassy officials are happy to comply with an investigation.

The statement failed to placate Bolivian officials, however. Although Romero has conceded that the US had negotiated an agreement with the police in Beni, he called the arrangement “illegal,” noting that foreign governments are only authorized to negotiate agreements with federal institutions. Romero also questioned why the van was traveling at night, and implied that a diplomatic vehicle was used to reduce the chance of it being searched.

InSight Crime Analysis
The incident comes at a time of extremely strained relations between Bolivia and the US. Although President Evo Morales has restored diplomatic ties with the US after expelling the US ambassador and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for alleged connections to his political opposition, he remains suspicious of US activities in his country.

Ahead of a visit to the US last July, for instance, Morales publicly expressed fears that the American government would attempt to plant cocaine on his plane in an effort to discredit his counternarcotics efforts.

Because the Beni department is governed by the opposition National Revolutionary Movement (MNR), the government’s reaction to the discovery of weapons has distinctly political undertones. While the Bolivian government’s concerns over sovereignty are valid, it seems likely that Minister Romero’s musings were designed to raise doubts about a potentially destabilizing relationship between the US and the local authorities in Beni..

Thursday, September 29, 2011

President Morales asks for forgiveness of indigenous peoples

Bolivian President Evo Morales apologized for the humiliation suffered by indigenous peoples at the hands of the police over the weekend, and said his government did not order the attacks, state media reported late Wednesday.

"We ask for forgiveness -- forgive me," Morales said,. "It was not an instruction by the president. No one in the government would have thought such an attack could happen to our indigenous brothers." Mr Morales said: "Pardon me. There was no presidential order to disperse the protest."

On Sunday, 500 police tear-gassed and rousted about half of 1,500 indigenous protesters making a 300-mile march to the capital, La Paz, to protest a road project through a national park on their ancestral homeland. The marchers say four people were killed, scores of protesters were injured and several others were missing. On Monday, Bolivian officials denied any deaths or injuries but promised to launch a full-scale investigation into the raid, which they said was undertaken to save lives and avoid confrontations.

The protests and popular fallout from the crackdown present a challenge for Morales, who has said the 300-kilometer (186-mile) highway is vital for economic development in South America's poorest country.

At the heart of the dispute lies the construction of a highway through the Isiboro-Secure Indigenous Territory and National Park, a rainforest preserve commonly known by its Spanish acronym of TIPNIS. The Brazil-financed road would run through a nature preserve home to some 50,000 natives from three different indigenous groups.

The road is part of a network linking land-locked Bolivia, South America's only mostly indigenous nation, to both the Pacific through Chile and the Atlantic through Brazil, a key outlet for Bolivian exports.




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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Controversial Amazon Road Project Creates Crisis for Bolivia's Morales



Bolivia's Defense Minister has resigned in protest against a police crackdown on anti-highway demonstrators, increasing pressure on Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, over his handling of the situation.

Forty-one days into a march against government-supported plans to build a 300km (186 mi) highway through an Amazon rainforest reserve, police fired tear gas and briefly detained protesters in the Yucumo region on Sunday, prompting the minister's resignation on Monday.

Several people suffered minor injuries, according to local media reports, and the crackdown was criticised by opposition politicians, the ombudsman and several government officials, including Defense Minister Cecilia Chacon.

"This is not the way! We agreed to do things differently," Chacon wrote in her resignation letter, which was published by Bolivian media on Monday.

Ivan Canelas, the country's communications minister, said that police had no choice when responding to the protests.

"The march was defused because it had become a source of violence," he told the Reuters news agency.

Police surged into the demonstrators' camp with "extreme violence", veteran activist Maria Carvajal told the AFP news agency. "I could not believe what was happening."

On Monday, protesters reacted by setting barricades on fire on the airport runway in the town of Rurrenabaque, in an attempt to free about 300 marchers who were being held by authorities, Mayor Yerko Nunez told local media.

In La Paz, the capital, riot police set up a security cordon around the Quemada government building, as thousands of demonstrators gathered outside to protest the crackdown.

Other protests were also held in the central city of Cochabamba, where students marched and majority Aymara and Quechua indigenous peoples began a hunger strike.

Protests were also held in the northern province of Beni and in Santa Cruz.

Split in ruling party

Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous president, put the controversial $420m highway - mostly funded by Brazil's government - at the heart of his infrastructure plan for the country.

The highway has elicited fierce opposition, however, from local indigenous leaders, who traditionally support Morales. The split has exposed differences within Morales' Movement Toward Socialism party.

Some MAS lawmakers have expressed support for the demonstrators and the demands of the 12,000 residents of the Isiboro Secure Indigenous Territory and National Park, through which the proposed road would be built.

In June, Morales angered activists by saying that the road would be built through the territory "whether they like it or not".

Seeking to defuse tension over the issue, Morales said on Sunday that a referendum would be held in the provinces affected by the highway's construction, "so the people can decide whether the project should go ahead or not". Further details on the referendum were not available.

Morales is highly popular among the Quechua and Aymara indigenous majority in the Andean highlands, but opposition to his policies is strong in the eastern lowlands, even among indigenous groups.

Fallout from the unrest could put him in a defensive posture for the nationwide judicial elections in October, which are part of broader reforms put in place to give indigenous people more political power.











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Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Bolivia Genocide Case: Ex-regime figures convicted, US shelters top fugitive

By Bill Weinberg September 15, 2011
indian country today media network

Bolivia’s Supreme Court of Justice on August 30 convicted seven former officials on charges of genocide—five military officers and two ex-cabinet ministers. The military officials received sentences of 10–15 years while the former cabinet ministers received three-year terms; none will be allowed to appeal. But Bolivia’s top fugitive in the genocide case—former president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada—remains at large in the United States, which refuses to extradite.

The cases stem from the “Black October” of 2003, when the army fired on indigenous Aymara protesters at El Alto, the sprawling working-class city on the altiplano above La Paz. For weeks, protesters had blocked roads across the altiplano, demanding a halt to Sánchez de Lozada’s plans for a new pipeline to export natural gas to California on terms considered too easy for Shell Oil and other companies. On October 12, the army broke the blockades by force to deliver gasoline to La Paz—leaving 63 dead. In the aftermath, Sánchez de Lozada was forced to step down—and fled to Miami, along with two top cabinet ministers.

“The authors of the crimes are still free,” says Rafael Archondo, U.N.’s Permanent Representative of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. “They have all the freedom that they denied to the people when the people protested against them.”

Trials began in 2009, when the court began proceedings against Sánchez de Lozada in absentia. By then Bolivia had elected as president the Aymara social leader Evo Morales—the country’s first indigenous president—who had been a leader of the 2003 protests.

Sánchez de Lozada faces 30 years in prison if convicted. Seventeen other ex-officials from his administration also face genocide charges. Several of them have sought refuge in Peru, and Bolivia hopes the new government in Lima will agree to extradite.

But the trial of Sánchez de Lozada cannot be concluded without his presence under Bolivian law. The Morales government has requested the extradition of Sánchez de Lozada and two other defendants under a 1995 treaty with the U.S. A defense lawyer for victims’ families, Rogelio Mayta, issued another public plea for extradition after the recent convictions. Sánchez de Lozada’s attorneys assert he resides in the US legally and that the prosecutions are political.

The whereabouts of Sánchez de Lozada are not difficult to determine. In October 2005 a group of U.S. activists symbolically served him with a subpoena (in facsimile) at a public event in Washington where he was speaking, organized by Princeton University. He is now believed to be living in Virginia.

Extraditions must be vetted by the Justice Department before they are approved by the State Department. When asked for a comment on the Sánchez de Lozada case, Justice Department spokesperson Laura Sweeney said, “the department doesn’t confirm or comment on matters of extradition so we would decline to comment.”

State Department spokesperson Noel Clay said only that the statement “should be directed to the Justice Department.”

Archondo dismisses notions that the defendants would receive unfair treatment in Bolivia, pointing out that the two ex-cabinet members just convicted—former development minister Érick Reyes Villa and former labor minister Adalberto Kuajara —have been allowed to serve their three-year terms under house arrest rather than in prison.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay welcomed the convictions, calling them part of “a very healthy trend towards combatting long-standing impunity” in Latin America.

The two other officials Bolivia wants extradited are former defense minister Carlos Sánchez Berzain and former hydrocarbons minister Jorge Berindoague. Sánchez Berzain was granted asylum status in 2008—which sparked an angry march by thousands of El Alto residents on the U.S. embassy in La Paz. Archondo calls Sánchez Berzain the “specific intellectual author” of the Black October massacre. He decries that the ex-defense minister was treated “as if he was somebody who was being punished because of his thinking.”

Archondo says Sánchez Berzain speaks freely to media in U.S. and is widely quoted in the Bolivian press. “What kind of dictatorship would allow this?” he asks.

Archondo points out that Bolivia is the only country with an ex-dictator in prison—Luis García Meza, who seized power in a 1980 coup. “I think this is a good example of how a democracy should deal with history,” he says, calling it part of “the long process of recovering the legitimacy that we have now.”

Archondo says that if the U.S. remains intransigent, Bolivia may call for “international agencies to make an intervention” in the case. He acknowledges that if Bolivia does go to the international community with this case, the “genocide” charge might have to be reconsidered, given the rigorous world standards for this crime. “There was a debate in Bolivia as to whether to characterize this as a genocide,” he says. “Our supreme court decided that charge was applicable in this case. Of course, if it comes to an international trial, the justification for the charge of genocide must be really clear. “

Recalling the resource issues that underlay the 2003 unrest, Sánchez de Lozada also faces charges in Bolivia of skirting the law in awarding oil contracts to BP, the French giant TotalFinaElf, and other multinationals.

But this will remain a sideshow until after Sánchez de Lozada faces the far more serious genocide charges. “To impose order through a massacre, using the armed forces without respect for human rights—this was a terrible episode in our history, and we cannot forget this.,” concludes Archondo. “This is a wound in our democratic body.”

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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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Communal banks extend credit, empower women and build equity in rural Bolivia.

UNICEF’s equity-based approach to achieving the Millennium Development Goals aims to reach the poorest and most vulnerable children and families with cost-effective interventions for sustainable progress. Here is one in a series of stories that make the case for equity.



By Tanya Turkovich

POCOATA, Bolivia, 23 May 2011 – It takes money to make money. Just ask Pilar Rueda, 38, a Quechua mother of two from this remote rural town in the Bolivian department of Potosí. She and much of her community have lifted themselves out of extreme poverty through ‘Bancos Comunales’ – Communal Banks – an innovative project developed by UNICEF.


VIDEO: 6 May 2011 - UNICEF correspondent Thomas Nybo reports on a community banking initiative that extends credit and empowers women in Bolivia's rural indigenous communities. Watch in RealPlayer
The project extends credit to indigenous people, mainly women, in 13 remote municipalities of northern Potosí. Normally, it is almost impossible for the population in these areas to get loans for small, income-generating ventures. But unlike the microcredit schemes of traditional banks, which charge high interest rates, the Bancos Comunales project offers very low rates and is entirely directed and driven by the community.

The project now comprises an association of some 70 communal banks in Potosí. Besides extending loans, it trains participants in microcredit financing, gender equality, leadership and basic rights.

Increased income and opportunities

“This store just used to have a couple of things,” Ms. Rueda says about the shop she owns and operates with her family. “Now it has so many products and provides us with a good source of income.”


© UNICEF video
Pilar Rueda, a Quechua mother of two from Pocoata, in the Bolivian department of Potosí, sells goods in the store she has stocked with a loan from the UNICEF-supported Bancos Comunales initiative.

And she has not stopped there. After an initial loan from Bancos Comunales allowed Ms. Rueda to increase the stock and revenue from her store, she purchased and started using an ice cream maker for additional income. She also began knitting and painting textiles to sell in the shop.

“Women can now do business. They don't depend on the men anymore,” notes Ms. Rueda. “So now mothers can buy whatever their children need.” As a result, she adds, “Men are feeling proud of their women.”

Ms. Rueda has always been an industrious worker. Now she has become a community leader and savvy businesswoman. Access to credit and information about women’s and children’s rights has expanded opportunities for her and for her children. Although Ms. Rueda never had the chance for a secondary education, for example, her son is in college and she has enough money to buy the supplies that keep her daughter in school.

Breaking the cycle of poverty

Ms. Rueda’s family and other Bancos Comunales beneficiaries live in South America’s poorest country. Out of Bolivia’s population of 9.1 million, nearly 6 million – half of them children – are in impoverished households.

In rural areas, almost two-thirds of the population is considered extremely poor. They do not have enough money to cover their basic necessities, food and health care, much less education. Moreover, the rural population is primarily indigenous, historically the most disadvantaged group in Bolivia and other countries in the region.


© UNICEF video
Local stakeholders from the communal bank in the town of Jarana, located in rural Potosí, Bolivia, hold a meeting to discuss lending for income-generating activities in the indigenous community.

In fact, the profile of an indigenous, impoverished girl living in a rural area is a precise picture of social exclusion and inequality in Bolivia. Progress and prosperity have passed these girls by – and are likely to pass by their children.

Yet schemes such as Bancos Comunales are based on the conviction that when governments and international aid organizations invest in meeting the essential needs of the poor, the intergenerational cycle of poverty can be broken. To that end, the banking initiative serves disenfranchised and socially excluded families who live at least 70 km from the nearest paved road and 175 km from the nearest city, and who survive primarily on farming.

An equity-based approach

UNICEF Bolivia Chief of Policy Claudio Santibanez explains that the initiative is unique in that it focuses on improving child rights through women’s empowerment. In addition, it takes an equity-based approach to human development by targeting the poorest of the poor.

“Unlike other microfinance initiatives, communal banks are created in the most extremely poor communities and thus have a strong equity approach,” says Mr. Santibanez. “They engage with a socially vulnerable population that otherwise would be excluded from financial markets.”

Because local residents own the communal banks, money and capital stay in the community. Combined with training in agricultural and trade techniques, this provides food security and a sustainable economic base even for the poorest families.


© UNICEF video
Vilma Huaype works on accounts at the communal bank in Jarana, Bolivia, where she received a loan to improve her family’s situation and has risen in status to become the bank's treasurer.

At the same time, Mr. Santibanez points out, Bancos Comunales trains women in understanding and advocating for their rights and those of their children. “Providing access to micro-loans jointly with other initiatives that empower communities on protecting their children’s rights is a strong combination,” he says.

How loans are structured

To achieve its aims, the Bancos Comunales project offers loans of up to 3,000 bolivianos (about $425) at an interest rate of 2 per cent. Three-quarters of the interest goes toward increasing the communal bank’s reserves, while the rest goes into a savings account for the borrower. This amount is returned once he or she has finished paying the loan, usually within 12 months.

Borrowers must begin repayments a month after the loan is provided. If they are late, it is the community that pressures neighbours to meet their obligations. Social pressure and reputation are still powerful forces in the rural Andes.

Even though some loan repayments have been delayed, the organizers of the communal banking association report that only a few borrowers have defaulted.

Empowered women

While the project loans money to both women and men, women have – by design – taken an increasingly prominent role. This is especially significant in a culture where women are often not in charge of household decision-making and are not generally the primary earners.

Women involved in Bancos Comunales express a strong commitment to helping their children achieve better lives than they’ve had. To that end, they use the income from their businesses to enhance child health and education.

Loan recipient Vilma Huaype lives with her husband and two children in Jarana, about an hour’s walk from Pocoata. Like Ms. Rueda, she has improved her family’s situation through direct access to financial resources. She has also gained new status in the community as the bank treasurer, and has more say in the household than she did before.

Ms. Huaype’s store, once stocked with meagre supplies, has grown into a thriving business. “I have taken advantage of this opportunity for my family,” she says, “so we do not have to remain poor.”

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Why Bolivia stood alone in opposing the Cancún climate agreement


by Ambassdor Pablo Solon


Diplomacy is traditionally a game of alliance and compromise. Yet in the early hours of Saturday 11 December, Bolivia found itself alone against the world: the only nation to oppose the outcome of the United Nations climate change summit in Cancún. We were accused of being obstructionist, obstinate and unrealistic. Yet in truth we did not feel alone, nor are we offended by the attacks. Instead, we feel an enormous obligation to set aside diplomacy and tell the truth.

The "Cancún accord" was presented late Friday afternoon, and we were given two hours to read it. Despite pressure to sign something – anything – immediately, Bolivia requested further deliberations. This text, we said, would be a sad conclusion to the negotiations. After we were denied any opportunity to discuss the text, despite a lack of consensus, the president banged her gavel to approve the document.

Many commentators have called the Cancún accord a "step in the right direction." We disagree: it is a giant step backward. The text replaces binding mechanisms for reducing greenhouse gas emissions with voluntary pledges that are wholly insufficient. These pledges contradict the stated goal of capping the rise in temperature at 2C, instead guiding us to 4C or more. The text is full of loopholes for polluters, opportunities for expanding carbon markets and similar mechanisms – like the forestry scheme Redd – that reduce the obligation of developed countries to act.

Bolivia may have been the only country to speak out against these failures, but several negotiators told us privately that they support us. Anyone who has seen the science on climate change knows that the Cancún agreement was irresponsible.

In addition to having science on our side, another reason we did not feel alone in opposing an unbalanced text at Cancún is that we received thousands of messages of support from the women, men, and young people of the social movements that have stood by us and have helped inform our position. It is out of respect for them, and humanity as a whole, that we feel a deep responsibility not to sign off on any paper that threatens millions of lives.

Some claim the best thing is to be realistic and recognise that at the very least the agreement saved the UN process from collapse.

Unfortunately, a convenient realism has become all that powerful nations are willing to offer, while they ignore scientists' exhortations to act radically now. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found that in order to have a 50% chance of keeping the rise in temperature below 1.5C, emissions must peak by 2015. The attempt in Cancún to delay critical decisions until next year could have catastrophic consequences.

Bolivia is a small country. This means we are among the nations most vulnerable to climate change, but with the least responsibility for causing the problem. Studies indicate that our capital city of La Paz could become a desert within 30 years. What we do have is the privilege of being able to stand by our ideals, of not letting partisan agendas obscure our principal aim: defending life and Earth. We are not desperate for money. Last year, after we rejected the Copenhagen accord, the US cut our climate funding. We are not beholden to the World Bank, as so many of us in the south once were. We can act freely and do what is right.

Bolivia may have acted unusually by upsetting the established way of dealing with things. But we face an unprecedented crisis, and false victories won't save the planet. False agreements will not guarantee a future for our children. We all must stand up and demand a climate agreement strong enough to match the crisis we confront.

*Pablo Solon is Ambassador of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to the United Nations.

Source: The Guardian
Photo: Digital Warrior Media








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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The truth will set you free

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera has posted all U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks that pertain to Bolivia on his official website.

He told reporters Wednesday he wants people to know the "barbarities and insults" of what he called Washington's "inverventionist infiltration."

As Wikileaks' own sites come under attack, sympathizers have created "mirror" sites that duplicate them partially or in full.

Bolivia's leftist leaders expelled the U.S. ambassador in 2008, accusing him of conspiring against it.

Garcia's site includes two quotes:

"The truth will set you free," from the New Testament.

And from WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange: "Every organization rests on a mountain of secrets."

VIA THE AP

Monday, December 06, 2010

U.S. Manipulation of Climate Talks : WikiLeaks

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bolivian Leader Confronts Gates About US Behavior

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia (AP) — Bolivian President Evo Morales had a blunt message for the visiting U.S. Pentagon chief on Monday: Latin American nations will pick their own friends and business partners, including Iran, regardless of U.S. opinion.

The colorful leftist leader delivered an hourlong welcome to delegates at a regional defense conference that included U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Morales never mentioned Gates by name. But most of the speech, and all of the applause lines, were clearly directed at the Pentagon chief and former head of the CIA.

Bolivia is more democratic and representative than the United States, Morales said, and democracy would improve in the entire region if the United States stopped interfering. Bolivia receives $70 million in U.S. aid annually, much of it for popular nutrition and health programs.

He mentioned the spread of Iranian and Russian business and other ties in Latin America, and said it is not the U.S. place to complain.

"Bolivia under my government will have an agreement, an alliance, to anyone in the world," Morales said. "Nobody will forbid us," he said to applause.

Morales has allied Bolivia with Venezuela, Cuba and Iran, and drawn criticism from the U.S. for the Tehran ties.

Last month Bolivia said it is interested in buying Iranian-made airplanes and helicopters for military training and transportation. Bolivia also wants to team up with Iran to build a nuclear power plant and establish a joint development bank. Venezuela is teaming with Russia on a civilian nuclear plant.

Gates didn't seem fazed by the one-hour monologue. A day earlier he had warned that countries doing business with Iran should remember that Iran is under international sanctions over its nuclear program. He also questioned whether Iran has the technical capability to help another nations develop civilian nuclear power.

"As a sovereign state Bolivia obviously can have relationships with any country in the world that it wishes to," Gates said Sunday. "I think Bolivia needs to be mindful of the number of United Nations Security Council resolutions that have been passed with respect to Iran's behavior."

Gates addressed the defense ministers' forum later Monday. His remarks were brief and focused on cooperation across the Western Hemisphere. He did not mention Morales or the wider current on anti-Americanism among some Latin American nations.

"Let us not lose sight of our shared dreams and common aspirations of a free, prosperous and secure Americas," Gates said.

The popular Morales, an ethnic Aymara and former coca-growers' union leader, was first elected in December 2005 and recently declared that he intends to run again in 2014. His closest ally is the even more fiercely anti-U.S. leader of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.

Morales ticked off a history of attempted coups, alleged election- and vote-tampering, military meddling and vague conspiracies involving the United States. Some of it is based in truth, although the U.S. denies that a former ambassador tried to engineer a coup against Morales in 2008, as he alleged Monday.

Morales kicked out the then-U.S. ambassador in 2008, and the two nations have not normalized diplomatic relations since. Morales also expelled the U.S. DEA on suspicion of espionage.

He denies that coca grown in Bolivia feeds the worldwide demand for cocaine, although the country produces vastly more of the crop that would be needed for its traditional and legal medicinal use in Bolivia.

Morales also alleged U.S. involvement in coup attempts or political upheaval in Venezuela in 2002, Honduras in 2009 and Ecuador in 2010.

"The empire of the United States won," in Honduras, Morales said, a reference to the allegations of former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya that the U.S. was behind his ouster.

"The people of the Americas in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, we won," Morales continued. "We are three to one with the United States. Let's see what the future brings."

U.S. officials have repeatedly denied involvement in all of those cases and critics of the United States have produced no clear evidence.

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa called a Sept. 30 police revolt over benefit cuts a coup attempt in disguise, but he did not accuse the United States of being involved.



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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

"$20 Per Year Will Not Solve Climate Change"

PRESS RELEASE: via the Plurinational State of Bolivia

BONN – Today, Ambassador Pablo Solon of the Plurinational State of Bolivia highlighted Bolivia’s concern over current UN climate negotiations.

The Ambassador talked of the voices of the real victims of climate change being excluded from the negotiations.“In April 2010 more than 35,000 people from 140 countries gathered in Cochabamba, Bolivia and developed the historic Cochabamba People’s Agreement a consensus-based document reflecting substantive solutions to the climate crisis.”

In his statements, Ambassador Solon highlighted the following: “We are therefore deeply concerned that the new text proposed as a basis for climate change negotiations does not reflect any of the main conclusions reached in Cochabamba. We made this proposals in line with UN rules, by the April deadline, but still they have not been included.”

“Proposals from Cochabamba have been side-lined but every single element of the so-called ‘Copenhagen Accord’ has been included, even though it was not recognized by the United Nations. This means that on finance we are only considering $100 billion a year to respond to climate change – just $20 per person in the developing world – to solve climate change. It’s clear that climate change impacts are not going to be dealt with for just $20 per person.”

“We urge the UN to embrace the conclusions reached by social movements, indigenous peoples and international civil society in Cochabamba. It is both undemocratic and non-transparent to exclude particular proposals from the negotiations, and it is imperative that the United Nations listens to the global community on this issue critical to humanity.”

“In total 18 different ideas were excluded, including 50% emission cuts for rich countries by 2017, a 300ppm greenhouse gas stabilization target, a proposal for a declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth and a new, realistic assessment of finance needed to fight climate change.”

“There cannot be an equitable, transparent, and inclusive negotiation process, nor true solutions to the urgency of the climate crisis, if the UN negotiating text ignores the voices of the peoples of the world that the negotiators should be representing.”

About 185 UN member states are participating in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) talks which are convening in Bonn, Germany from May 31 until June 9.



click here for UNFCCC Webcast: On demand

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