|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Bolivian President Evo Morales as New Chair
of Group of 77 Developing Countries and China
Food security, poverty reduction and creating sustainable ways to protect the Earth were among the world’s most pressing issues, Bolivian President Evo Morales said at a Headquarters press conference today, following the handover ceremony of the chairmanship of the Group of 77 and China.
Mr. Morales hoped those and other concerns would bring about successful, concrete conclusions at a summit he planned to hold in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, in June 2014 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Group, which now represented 133 countries, or more than two thirds of the world’s nations.
“This is a time of people, not empires,” he said. “Bankers and big corporate directors often became countries’ leaders, but in Bolivia, we seek to govern through the people.”
Elaborating on national efforts, he said his country had heavily invested in its people and was working with all diverse sectors of society, making progress in cultivating quinoa, attempting to remove the coca leaf from banned substance lists, fighting drug trafficking and using its resources to provide ever more services to its citizens, from telecommunications to electricity.
“Politics should translate into efforts made for the people,” he said, pointing out that once Bolivia had nationalized telecommunications, coverage had grown from 90 to 300 municipalities. This year, all municipalities would have Internet access, he added, noting that online education was now preventing more students from dropping out in rural areas.
Furthermore, Mr. Morales said Bolivia had experienced about 40 years of fiscal deficits before he was elected President. One year later, the country had nationalized hydrocarbons, amassed investors and achieved a surplus that was spent in the education sector.
Even though the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and countries including the United States had offered conditional loans, he said, the “Bolivian boys” and not the “ Chicago boys” were now running his country and deciding on its economic policies. “Capitalism and imperialism are never going to let you develop,” he said, noting that “freed from those policies”, the economic situation in Bolivia had changed.
When asked how Bolivia, as head of the Group of 77, would address conflict in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere, he said the capitalist system could not conduct invasions so it had instead financed groups and then justified military interventions. If Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein would have used them on the invading forces, he said, raising the question of which President now “owns” Libyan oil. He would ask previous Group chairs about how best to address issues of conflict.
He said he intended to welcome everyone at the Santa Cruz summit and not just serve as host of the gathering to mark the Group’s anniversary. Noting that over the past half-century the Group had developed new projects to reduce poverty, Mr. Morales said he hoped the summit would result in the further development of social programmes to reduce poverty and would forge new paths by which to tackle global issues, such as climate change and sustainable development.
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