|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
PRESS CONFERENCE BY PRESIDENT OF BOLIVIA
Bolivian President Evo Morales Ayma, speaking at a Headquarters press conference this evening, said there was a “great feeling” of liberation sweeping across Latin America that could not be stopped.
“The combat of our people is a historic struggle against empire,” he said, answering correspondents’ questions immediately following his address to the General Assembly’s general debate. “Where there is imperialism, all you find is exploitation and the pillaging of natural resources,” he said. “With no empire or imperialism, there is development, justice and there is freedom.”
Fielding numerous questions regarding his country’s relations with the United States, Mr. Morales said he would like to build an environment of dialogue, diplomacy and respect, but that he could not tolerate the United States Government intervening in Bolivian affairs.
“There have been conspiracies in Bolivia,” he said, claiming that there were documents that linked funds from the United States to the conspiracy against the Government of Bolivia, either through the Department of State or through Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, a former Bolivian President currently residing in the United States. He drew attention to the actions of the recently expelled United States Ambassador to Bolivia, Philip Goldberg, calling his behaviour “an embarrassment to the normal people of the United States”. Cooperation between the two countries must be transparent, and the United States Government should ensure that American taxpayer dollars never be used to fund unrest or opposition in Bolivia.
As for what effect that the deteriorating relations between the two countries might have on efforts to combat drug trafficking, Mr. Morales drew attention to a series of successful national initiatives, such as the reduction in the size of Bolivian coca plantations. He emphasized the role the United States must play in fighting drugs in its own country, “given that the market for cocaine is in the US”.
“Under the pretext of fighting drugs”, the United States had built an American military base on Bolivian soil, where even the President of Bolivia could not land his plane without permission, he added. The removal of the United States military presence from the country was “part of the change, part of the liberation of Bolivian men and women”.
He said that the United States was often equally hypocritical with its foreign aid and assistance. In particular, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided only small amounts of financial assistance in certain key regions of his country -- “just enough money to buy some of the local leaders”. “And what they’re told is: ‘If you get rid of Evo Morales, there’ll be more money for you’.”
Asked about his country’s relations with Iran, he said he had been struck by the level of development in Iran during a recent visit and was equally struck by its ability to bounce back from setbacks. “According to Bush, this is the axis of evil; according to our people this an axis for humanity, for the freedom of our people,” he said, adding that he would continue diplomatic relations with Iran in the future.
Latin American countries were now able to build their own partnerships and unions, built on respect for differences, peace, dialogue and dignity, he continued. The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) had been “created precisely so that Latin America would no longer be the back garden of the empire”. Unlike other international organizations, such as the Organization of American States (OAS), UNASUR was managed completely by South American countries themselves and did not require trips “to Miami or New York to solve our problems”.
More specifically, when asked about relations with Colombia, Brazil and the upcoming meeting of UNASUR on 24 September, Mr. Morales said he appreciated the respect of his counterparts in various other South American nations and he had great confidence in the positive outcome of negotiations.
In response to questions about upcoming negotiations with “rebel provinces” in Bolivia, he reminded correspondents that it was the obligation of all Governments to seek avenues of unity within their respective countries. In his opinion, the best way for uniting Bolivians was through the newly proposed constitutional reforms, which should be accepted or rejected through a democratic vote, and not through violence.
The problems of Bolivia, he added, should never be solved through violence. Nor could they be solved with a miracle. When I look at movies with Superman arriving and solving all their problems, that’s not going to happen in Bolivia -- there is no Superman. It’ll be the consciousness of the people that will solve the problems,” he said.
* *** *For information media • not an official record