His Excellency Mr. Jorge Quiroga Ramírez
President of the Republic of Bolivia

at the 
International Conference on Financing for Development

Monterrey, Mexico 
21st March 2002

I would like to begin by expressing my thanks to President Fox and his country for the hospitality extended to us. Today he is beginning to receive leaders from Latin America, and I congratulate him on this.

The figures are evident. Thousands of millions of our citizens have known nothing but poverty. The challenges of the Twenty-first Century are clear: Reduce poverty, drug trafficking and terrorism. These are three enemies of democracy, and they can be vanquished only by development, by freedom and in states where the rule of law and opportunity prevail.

We have come to Monterrey to face these challenges. But, leaving these statistics aside, let us look at the problem through the eyes of the Quenta Tarque family. This family lives in a Bolivian province where they produce alpaca products. They have 10 children who alternate between working in the fields and going to school. Two children have died. They, of course, are part of the infant mortality rate. How can we in Monterrey help this family? We can work together in three areas: financing for their development, access to markets for their products and integrating them into the digital world.

First, as far as financing is concerned, how much is needed? The answer is: As many concessional resources as are sustainable under the budgetary situations of the countries and the solvency of the lending agencies. Also needed are subsidies based on the reality of each country and – it is to be hoped – resources earmarked in order to make sure that the social reality of the recipients is considered and not the convenience of those giving the resources.

What is even more important: How should development be financed? Bolivia believes that it should be done through the system that we are using to develop our poverty eradication policy. This is a process that has involved thousands of men and women from all of the country’s municipalities. It includes thousands from the Catholic Church and many different groups from Bolivian society. The process has mobilized our social capital to define how to use half a billion dollars over a period of 15 years. This amount has come from the alleviation of external debt, known as the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative.

The aforementioned process was based on the following exchange. Bolivia is opening its doors to civil society in order to define the way resources will be used. It wants to earmark these resources in a decentralized fashion through the different provinces and municipalities. This will be done gradually so that the indigenous and rural populations will be able to receive more funds, thus guaranteeing maximum transparency through institutional reforms and mechanisms of social control.

On the other hand, the international community is offering untied aid -- resources that are not tied to the provision of services from the donor country -- and they assign this under a single coordinated framework, avoiding the dispersion that very often has deleterious effects on the effectiveness of the aid. Over time, this is sustainable, because it is supported by internal participation, which is more sustainable than any conditions coming from the outside. One can have confidence in this situation, because it is result-oriented. The results are seen in terms of schools, of housing and of vaccination programmes.

Our country has exceeded the 18 goals that were set in the first HIPC plan four years ago. In the light of this experience, Bolivia fully supports the idea that cooperation should be based on tangible results in terms of improvement to the economy and poverty reduction and should leave behind the system of earmarking on the basis of political quotas, among other things.

The key question is: Can the system that I have just described be used for more than $1.5 billion coming from debt alleviation? Why could it not be used for future resources in the area of cooperation? Could these not include participation, progressive decentralization, social control and institutional reform in countries such as my own? These areas could be replaced with untied aid, which is coordinated and result-oriented.

While on this topic, allow me to say something about corruption. Corruption cuts down on resources needed to fight poverty. Poverty weakens and destroys states on a permanent basis. The absence of a state provides fertile ground for the growth of terrorism and drug trafficking. So the logical conclusion to be gained from this is that we have to combat corruption with the same force and in the same resolute way that we face drug trafficking and terrorism. Only in this way will those who are corrupt share the fate of terrorists and drug traffickers. For this reason, in Bolivia, in areas that were open to corruption, such as tax collection, customs, justice, road-building and the social sphere, a congressional vote of almost 90 per cent recently designated professional public officials whose mandates go beyond that of the presidential term.

As to the second point, access to markets, an educated and healthy citizen who has no access to markets and has no link with the productive area represents a lost opportunity for Bolivia. We have reduced the deficit and inflation. We have knocked down tariffs and have opened the country up to private investment. We are decentralizing public investment and aiming it at social programmes. We are changing the justice system, and we are reforming institutions.

But how do we feel about this? Well, something is missing: Access to markets in the agricultural and labour-intensive manufacturing sectors. I come from a country that was not prepared 15 years ago to compete in the twenty-first century. We shaped up, and now we see in our frustration that, in the soccer match of world trade, the rules are constantly changing because they have to be accommodated to the requirements of other teams in the game. Many of our manufacturing players are not allowed to use their feet to score goals; they can only use their heads to do this through highly selective applied tariffs. Our agricultural soccer players are kept very far away because of massive agricultural subsidies. Those who dare to score goals are expelled through anti-dumping. Other players are bound at the ankles to phytosanitary and environmental controls. Finally, advisors and consultants are sent to tell us that our soccer team lacks competition.

Let us speak clearly here. We cannot continue to manage agricultural sectors and labour-intensive manufacturing sectors; we cannot continue to open some sectors and close others; it is time to decidedly foster free trade – free of the tariffs that cause problems for the Quenta Tarque family and their alpaca business, as I mentioned earlier – free of subsidies, which finance underdevelopment, and free of para-tariff controls. There is no financing for development if there is no opening of markets for development.

Lastly, a citizen with financing for development and access to markets has to have the third element available to him. This means the possibility of being digitally-integrated. Whereas in the past, the education gap meant that there were thousands left in poverty, tomorrow the digital divide will leave thousands of educated citizens in sort of a digital illiteracy. Whereas in the past poverty was the cause, and the digital divide the effect; tomorrow the digital divide will be the cause, and poverty the effect.

Turning to the subject of HIV/AIDS, in past months it has been established that the right to life is worth more than the right to a patent. We need to discuss the just balance between the right to access to technology and the right to patents, in order that millions of citizens can have not only financing for development but also knowledge for development.

More than 50 years ago, my grandfather wrote a book about the difficulties of a peasant family. He wound up with two individuals who were wondering about the future of their children and who said, “It is always a dark night for our children. When will the sun rise for them? When will the sunrise come?”

This is certainly the same question that the Quenta Tarque family and millions of others are asking today. The response is that a new day will come when we are able to expand our resources and change the system of financing for development, when we are able to knock down the barriers that condemn millions of people to live on the side of this artificial wall of underdevelopment that separates us, and when access to a digital world will be as routine for rural communities in Bolivia as they are for Bolivian students studying here at the Monterrey Technological Institute.

We hope that the changes deriving from this Summit will make it possible for the end of the Twenty-first Century to coincide with a new rising day for development. This is something that our people fervently need and hope for.

* The text of this statement has been transcribed from audio recordings as the original was not submitted to the Secretariat.

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