BOLIVIA

STATEMENT

 BY

H.E. JORGE QUIROGA RAMIREZ

PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF BOLIVIA

56 TH  SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

GENERAL DEBATE

GENERAL ASSEMBLY HALL UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS

New York, November 10, 2001

(check against delivery)




Mr. President of the General Assembly
Delegates:

I come from the city of La Paz to add Bolivia's voice to the universal support received by the United Nations Organization with the Nobel Peace Prize.

This award expresses more than all the speeches could manage to do the way in which the world appreciates the Organization and its Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan.

The mediation performed by the Organization, its calling upon nations to agree among themselves, the courage to assume risks and the willingness to offer lives for a cause, go beyond the strict performance of a duty and are an example to all our Governments.

The active role of the Organization is now more necessary than it ever was. This is the hour in which the malign and shadowy menace of terror is seeking to appear on the horizon during the dawn of a new century.

The Berlin Wall was the symbol of ideological divisions during the second half of the XX century.

We must now, after September 11, tear down the wall of terrorism and intolerance that a few people wish to raise to divide the world.

On one side of this new wall are those that have built up and believe in democracy with pluralism.

On the other side, those that despotically impose their beliefs with no respect for the rule of law.

On one side of this new wall are those that permit and encourage the freedom of worship and of expression.

On the other side, those that do not practice, permit or tolerate it.

On one side of this wall are those that constantly try to generate equality of opportunities for all women.

On the other side, those that oppress and dominate them.

On one side of this wall are those that value freedom above all.

On the other side, the terrorists that wish to destroy and restrict it.

Let there be no doubt that Bolivia will always be on the side of democracy, freedom and tolerance. We want a life in peace and harmony.

That is why my country, my Government, has stated without any hesitation and fully convinced, its full support for the measures undertaken by the coalition led by the United States Government after the attempts that caused the deaths of thousands of innocent people in this same city and in the capital of the American nation.
 

Mr. President:

Terrorism is incubated and fed to a large extent within the underground world of drug trafficking.

We must not accept that to attack freedom, terrorism disguises itself as political claims.

We cannot accept that drug traffickers seeking to undermine our democracies hide themselves behind legitimate social demands.

It is clear that terrorism and drug trafficking are Siamese twins and enemies of the free democracies. That is why we must fight each of them with the same vigor and determination.

Bolivia, with all its limitations, is performing its task in fighting drug trafficking.

By the will of the majority of the Bolivians expressed through a National Dialogue, guided by our own interests, encouraged by our own public opinion, we are irreversibly advancing in the elimination of the illegal coca crops used to prepare cocaine and are entering into the final stage of the Dignidad Plan, which has the purpose of eliminating Bolivia from the drug circuit.

But the work has not concluded. International solidarity and support are now more important than ever.

Bolivia needs two levels of support to conclude the task.

First of all, it is necessary for the international community to become conscious that sustained support for the alternative development programs is more necessary for the countries that have eliminated the most illegal coca and cocaine and which people have been displaced.

Bolivia has reduced more than 90% of its coca leaf production.

However obvious it may seem, this ratio must be repeated over and over because many international bureaucracies assign resources in accordance with the size of the problem, mistakenly defined as the volume of production of coca leaves/cocaine, when the real economic problem arises from the size of the reduction that has been achieved and the proportional reduction of the income generated by this activity.

Bolivia deserves and needs more support than ever before, because it has made more progress than ever before.

Secondly, and of more relevance now, is the access to the markets. The opportunity to fight for a place under the sun. The right to work, to produce and to sell.

And here, at this point, the decision by the United States, by the European Union, to open up their markets for the products of alternative development assumes a critical and important extent.

Bolivia is the least developed nation of South America, the most open economy of the region and the only country that has achieved such a dramatic reduction in a poisonous and harmful product such as cocaine, within such a short time.

For these three reasons, we feel that we have every right to demand access to markets through free trade, TRI-FREE, triply free: free from tariffs, free from subsidies and free from non-tariff measures.

We need free trade, the tri-free trade that applies in sectors such as telecommunications, banking, computers or turbines, be also applied to agriculture, textiles and leather. Unfortunately, these three labor intensive sectors are governed by XIX century rules in the midst of the Third Millennium.

In Bolivia we are executing decentralized and participatory health and education programs. An educated and vaccinated citizen but without a market ... is not a full citizen of the present world.

In Bolivia we have ordered and opened up our economy but we have not seen full reciprocity in the developed world or in our neighbors.

In Bolivia we have almost entirely eliminated the production of cocaine, which however harmful it might be was an export product that was not subject to subsidies, barriers or tariffs

That is why we require access to markets, to guarantee the conclusion of the Dignidad Plan and avoid the frustration of the will of the citizen that assumed the challenge of changing illegal activities for other legitimate ones, but without the same access to the market.
 

Mr. President

On the threshold of the XXI Century, in the midst of a severe economic and political crisis that affects all the countries of the region, Bolivia is facing another challenge, that can decisively change its future.

In a few years, as soon as the work of the most important gas pipeline of South America was undertaken, the Bolivian natural gas reserves grew exponentially, until they have placed my country in an outstanding position in the hemispheric market.

We are now serving a growing part of the energy demand of Brazil and we have the firm purpose of reaching tomorrow the markets of the Pacific, in Mexico and the United States.

The tragic events of September 11 determined that the energy and gas integration be based on a long term vision that takes into account three elements: extensive gas reserves underground, a reliable economy and a solid democracy above ground. Bolivia has these three elements.

The project that are now being studied and negotiated will transform the productive structure of my country, multiply the growth rates, reinforce our role as a linkage center and the environmentally clean heart of the continent and increase our gravitation and presence on the Pacific.

Bolivia will thus take another step on the march that it began more than 120 years ago to return to the sea of our ancestors.

Thus, Bolivia reasserts its unshakeable will to recover the maritime nature with which it was born into independent life.
 

Mr. President:

Bolivia supports the struggle against terrorism and for freedom.

Bolivia, as in no other country, is making a gigantic effort to fight the ally of terrorism: drug trafficking. Because of this effort, because of its vocation to be open to the world and because of its need to fight poverty, my country demands access to markets.

Bolivia will play a central role in the reliable gas and energy integration of the XXI Century.

In my country we are conscious that the long struggle for freedom and against terrorism is just beginning and will only end when all the citizens of the world, men and women, are entitled to vote and elect, to offer their opinions and profess their faith, to freely move about and above all to live free from fear of terror.

And the United Nations must be the point of reunion of the world to take this shared path. And to build together this route to integration and peace.

As the times demand.
 

Thank you.