Friday, January 30, 2009

US-Bolivia opening?

Bolivian Minister of Foreign Relations David Choquehuanca:

“According to the Chancellery, more than two hundred years of the civil rights struggles have passed in the United States, giving place to a new leader: Barack Hussein Obama, as the new president of the nation, and with him, he revives the fire of equality, liberty and justice of Martin Luther King.

“I feel that the new president of the United States has a grand opportunity to improve relations with all of Latin America, in diplomacy, commercialism and investment cooperation, which doesn’t happen with ultimatums, blackmails, nor vengeful politics.”

Ranking Republican on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Richard Lugar:

“I congratulate the Bolivian people on their referendum. Sunday’s vote was accomplished by overcoming numerous challenges. Bolivia has clearly achieved an important milestone in its history. It is now up to the Government of Bolivia, and opposition parties and interests together, to build upon this event.

“The positive statement by President Morales in response to the Obama administration's congratulatory remarks on the adoption a new national charter for Bolivia signals a willingness to work toward improved relations. If our two countries can continue to speak to one another respectfully, and if we can each designate ambassadors, yet another step would be taken to ensure that these developments represent a positive new stage in relations between the United States and Bolivia.”

The Chance to Recast US-Bolivian Relations
Andean Information Network

In September 2008, Bolivian President Evo Morales expelled the U.S. ambassador, Philip Goldberg, stating that he had violated national sovereignty by interfering in Bolivian political affairs. The Bush administration denied any improper conduct and immediately expelled the Bolivian ambassador, Gustavo Guzman. Evidently as a reprisal for Ambassador Goldberg’s expulsion, the administration then declared (without basis) (1) that Morales’ government had “failed demonstrably” to honor its international drug control obligations and suspended Bolivia from eligibility for benefits under the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA). Accusing members of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of engaging in espionage and political interference, President Morales then expelled the DEA from Bolivia.

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The US Should Support Land Reform in Bolivia
Andean Information Network

The Bolivian government has repeatedly promised the indigenous rural poor adequate access to land since 1953. Hope that this promise would be fulfilled swept Evo Morales to electoral victory in 2005, and his administration has moved forward with a serious agrarian reform agenda that other governments have lacked. While the reform process has encountered resistance from large landholders, the Morales administration has shown a willingness to make compromises on relevant constitutional issues and follow established legal processes. It is urgent that the United States support the land reform underway in Bolivia by asking large landholders to engage in legal processes, rather than violent opposition. The U.S. should provide aid to the Bolivian government for economic development in indigenous and small farmer communities.

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