Bolivia’s Morales Slams as “Traitors” Those Who Allow Foreign Military Presence

VILLA TUNARI, Bolivia – Bolivian President Evo Morales said Saturday that any governments or heads of state that allow a foreign military presence in the region “are traitors to the liberation of the nations of Latin America.”

“I say it sincerely: the president or government that allows uniformed military forces to come armed into their country, in South America or Latin America, I believe are traitors to the liberation of the nations of Latin America,” Morales said.

The Bolivian president made that statement in the presence of his Brazilian colleague, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, who Saturday visited the coca-growing region of Chapare to sign a number of cooperation agreements with this country.

Lula, in a speech preceding Morales’ address, mentioned the summit that the countries of the Union of South American Nations, or Unasur, intend to hold on Aug. 28 in Bariloche, Argentina, to analyze the military pacts being negotiated between the United States and Colombia.

“This is a great opportunity that we have to show that South America is building its democracy and prosperity, and that we are working so that peace reigns in South America,” Lula said, without expressly mentioning the military pact by which the United States plans to use as many as seven Colombian bases.

Nonetheless, Morales was more explicit in insisting on the rejection of a U.S. military presence in the region and recalled the repression that he himself suffered as a leader of the coca-growers’ union by U.S. troops operating in Chapare.

“We have been victims of the U.S. presence in this region,” the Bolivian president said, adding that this rejection “does not come from thinking but from suffering.”

He therefore urged Latin America’s leaders to defend the “sovereignty” of the region.

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