Archive for November, 2009

Iranian leader greeted with military honors in Bolivia

November 25, 2009

(AFP)

25 November 2009 LA PAZ – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Bolivia for a short visit on Tuesday and promptly issued a joint statement with President Evo Morales on the right of all nations to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful ends.

 

On the second leg of a Latin America tour of three leftist nations sympathetic to his administration, Ahmadinejad was greeted by Morales at La Paz international airport with full military honors before heading with him to the center of the city.

 

There, a small group of feminists held a protest over Iran’s treatment of women in front of the presidential palace, as Ahmadinejad and Morales headed inside for talks.

 

In a joint press conference after their meeting, Ahmadinejad and Morales expressed their alliance against “imperialism,” meaning the United States.

 

Speaking through an interpreter, the Iranian leader told his host that despite the obstacles raised by imperialism “and our enemies, collaboration between our two countries grows day by day.”

 

Morales said: “It’s my experience that imperialism stifles development.”

 

The two presidents signed a joint statement “recognizing the legitimate right of all countries to use and develop nuclear energy for peaceful ends, within the framework of international rights.”

 

In this manner, Bolivia implicitly supported Iran’s quest for nuclear energy, which many in the international community believe really masks a desire for nuclear weapons.

 

The leaders also signed a deal that would see Iran involved in mining research in Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, a vast salt desert near the Chilean border that holds half the world’s known reserves of lithium — a key mineral used in rechargeable batteries for cell phones, laptops and electric cars.

 

French, Japanese and South Korean companies are competing to invest in the area, estimated to contain up to 100 million tons of lithium.

 

The Iranian leader began his itinerary on Monday in Brazil, where his host President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reiterated support for Iran’s controversial nuclear energy program.

 

Yet Lula also urged his Iranian counterpart to pursue talks with Western countries that fear Tehran is seeking to build an atomic bomb under cover of a civilian nuclear energy program.

 

Tehran should “continue contacts with interested countries for a just and balanced solution on the nuclear issue in Iran,” said Lula, a moderate leftist in command of Latin America’s biggest economy.

 

Ahmadinejad’s six-hour visit to Bolivia and, late Tuesday and into Wednesday, to Venezuela seeks to shore up ties with countries whose leaders also overtly express hostility toward the United States.

 

An advance gathering of Iranian businessmen representing 70 companies prepared the ground in Venezuela’s capital Caracas on Monday for trade discussions.

 

“We have a solid foundation, a solid base that we have created over this decade in our relationship, and it shows how false are the attacks of the world empire,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said, referring to the United States in comments broadcast by state television network VTV.

 

But Venezuela’s Jewish community expressed displeasure over Ahmadinejad’s visit, issuing a statement calling the Iranian leader an “ominous” person who, if not stopped, “could cause serious harm to humanity.”

 

His visit “gives legitimacy to a regime about which there are serious doubts over its transparency and legality,” the group said.

 Source: AFP

NIOC office opens in Santa Cruz, Bolivia

November 25, 2009

25 November 2009
Santa Cruz – A branch office of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) opened in Santa Cruz, Bolivia on Tuesday to follow up and implement joint Iran-Bolivia energy projects, announced an Iranian oil official. Director of the NIOC cooperation and monitoring office Bahman Soroushi told IRNA here that NIOC seeks opening of similar offices within a plan to expand its international activities.

He said the NIOC office in Bolivia will be active in mutually interesting oil, gas and petrochemical projects and will serve as the coordinator center for NIOC activities in some other Latin American countries.

Soroushi added that for the time being the Bolivian office is to follow up projects agreed between the two countries including exploration and development operations in five oil fields in southern Bolivia.

He also referred to certain other agreements on education of personnel in the Bolivian oil, gas and petrochemical production sectors, Iran’s contribution to repair work and uplifting output capacity of Santa Cruz Refinery and also studies on construction of another refinery in this city with a crude oil feedstock of 30,000 barrels a day.

On future plans of the office, Soroushi pointed to the feasibility studies of a petrochemical unit for producing amonia and urea at a rate of one million tons per year in Bolivia and also exporting technical services in the oil and gas fields.

The NIOC office in the southern city of Santa Cruz in Bolivia was inaugurated on Tuesday during a video conference attended by the Iranian and Bolivian presidents.

Source: Zawya

Iran, Bolivia Ink Cooperation Agreements

November 25, 2009
TEHRAN (FNA)- Senior officials from Iran and Bolivia in a meeting on Tuesday signed two cooperation documents as well as a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The Iranian Presidential office reported on Wednesday that the two documents were about the commissioning of Hemodialysis centers and the MoU covered research and exploitation of Lithium, the statement added.

The two sides also issued one joint statement during the meeting also attended by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales, the report added.

In the statement, the two sides underlined their resolve to promote bilateral and international cooperation.

 

Source: Fars News Agency

Profiting from Bolivia’s mineral riches

November 25, 2009

The Uyuni salt flats, Bolivia, home to one of the world's richest despoits of lithium

How do some of the world’s poorer countries deal with the balancing act of developing their own natural riches, while not allowing others to unfairly profit?

Should they hang on to total control of their own resources, even when they may not have the expertise or the money to exploit it properly?

One nation faced with this problem is Bolivia, one of the poorest countries in Latin America. It is sitting on a modern-day treasure trove, the world’s biggest deposits of a metal which has a central role in the push for lower carbon emissions.

It is lithium, a light metal which is the third element in the periodic table and is used in the batteries of electric cars and mobile phones. Bolivia has 50% of the world’s known reserves.

Foreign investors are queueing up to offer advice and investment, but Bolivia’s President, Evo Morales wants to keep a firm hand on the country’s precious lithium wealth.

Source: BBC

Have you seen the earless man? Bolivia’s public enemy No 1

November 25, 2009

By Guy Adams in Los Angeles

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Despite this appalling photofit of a suspect in the murder of a Bolivian taxi driver, police have arrested two men. It has since become a hit on the web

He doesn’t have any ears, his chin’s lop-sided, and his haircut bears a passing resemblance to the roof of a thatched cottage. But to police in Bolivia, he’s public enemy number one.

 

 The picture, widely described as the world’s worst photo-fit, was drawn by a woman who witnessed the violent murder of Rafael Vargas, a taxi driver from the city of Santa Cruz who was stabbed to death before being set on fire in the street last March. After Bolivian TV showed the image, accompanied by dramatic music, the case became a cause célèbre.

 

Clips of news reports describing crime were uploaded to YouTube, and went viral, sparking comparisons between the suspect and, among other things, a character from the TV series Fraggle Rock.

 

Police had the last laugh, though. Thanks to enormous public interest in the case, they have arrested two men. Under local laws, the suspects cannot be identified, so TV stations replaced their heads with cartoons of the now-famous photo-fit.

 Source: The Independent

Iranian leader continues South American trip with Bolivia stop

November 25, 2009

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in the midst of a three-nation tour of South America.

By Arthur Brice, CNN //
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(CNN) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continued his three-nation tour of Latin America on Tuesday, signing accords with Bolivian President Evo Morales and pledging mutual cooperation.

Morales met Ahmadinejad at the airport in La Paz, Bolivia’s capital, where the controversial Iranian leader received a bouquet of roses from a young girl and military honors from the Presidential Red Battalion.

The two leaders then retired to the government palace, where they met privately. A large crowd gathered in the central Plaza Murillo, some of them holding up signs with Ahmadinejad’s photograph.

Among the day’s activities were the inauguration of three industrial facilities built with Iranian financing.

Ahmadinejad traveled from Brazil, where he met with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil on Monday. He left Bolivia on Tuesday afternoon for Venezuela to meet with leftist President Hugo Chavez, a strong ally.

Ahmadinejad already visited Gambia, on the African continent, and will stop in Senegal on his way back to Iran.

The Iranian president hopes to strengthen economic ties with the five countries. But, more significantly, he aims to bolster political ties with sympathetic governments as he tries to counter U.S. and European efforts to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Morales and Chavez are strongly opposed to U.S. foreign policy, as is Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad also wants to improve Iran’s image after the brutal repression of demonstrators who objected to the outcome of the presidential election in June. Ahmadinejad was re-elected, but many Iranians believe the election was rigged.

Analysts don’t see much significance to Ahmadinejad’s visit to Bolivia, other than bolstering each country’s politics against the United States.

“The official agenda has nothing of substance,” said Jaime Aparicio, the Bolivian ambassador to the United States from 2000 to 2006.

“I don’t give it much importance,” said Rene Antonio Mayorga, a political scientist in La Paz.

Ahmadinejad’s visit to Bolivia really has to do more with Venezuela and its staunchly anti-American leader, the analysts say.

“Much of this points to President Chavez,” said Eduardo Gamarra, a Bolivian political science professor at Florida International University in Miami, Florida.

“Since Evo Morales doesn’t have independent politics, he is following in Chavez’s path,” Mayorga said. “This is a visit to demonstrate that Bolivia belongs to an anti-imperialist bloc and is opposed to U.S. foreign policy. More than that, I don’t see it.”

Bolivia and the United States have had diminished relations since September 2008, when each country expelled the other’s ambassador. Morales, a strong proponent of the cultivation of coca plants — the source of cocaine — expelled the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration a month later. He also delivered a strong verbal criticism of the U.S. government at the United Nations General Assembly last year.

Inviting Ahmadinejad is a way for Morales “to irritate the United States,” said Aparicio, now a Washington-based analyst.

“They think they don’t need the United States,” Aparicio said, noting that the power of U.S. aid to the nation has lessened.

“They receive more money from Venezuela and Iran,” the former ambassador said. “The traditional influence that the U.S. had in countries like Bolivia has diminished.”

Besides policy issues against the United States, Bolivia is interested in attracting investments from state-controlled economies such as Iran, Russia and China.

“They want to improve state-to-state relations because they know private investment will be a problem,” Aparicio said.

Bolivia, one of the poorest and least developed countries in Latin America, has large reserves of natural gas and other hydrocarbons. Morales wants to tap into those resources, but he needs expertise and help.

“Bolivians have interest in technology,” said Gamarra, the FIU professor. “Iranians have interest in Bolivian minerals.”

With its burgeoning nuclear program, Iran is interested in Bolivia’s largely untapped uranium deposits. Iran also is interested in uranium deposits in Brazil and Venezuela, the other two stops on Ahmadinejad’s Latin America trip.

Iran has promised Bolivia it will supply the technology to build a TV station to serve indigenous people in the nation’s Chapere region, the major cocaine-producing region of the country from which the DEA was evicted last year.

Observers say they don’t see Ahmadinejad’s brief visit playing into domestic politics in Bolivia, where Morales is favored to win re-election in December 6 elections.

“The people who are angry at this are going to vote against him anyway,” Aparicio said.

Ahmadinejad’s visit to Brazil a day earlier had a different dynamic, mostly because Brazil is quickly becoming a major player among the world’s non-aligned nations. The largest country in South America is hosting the 2014 World Cup soccer championship and was awarded the 2016 Summer Olympic Games last month.

Brazil also will become a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in January, and President Lula has been lobbying for a permanent seat.

Lula was criticized by some analysts for hosting Ahmadinejad this week in the first visit by an Iranian head of state to Brazil.

“It’s a mistake,” said Bernard Aronson, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs from 1989 to 1993. “They think it shows their independence but it actually shows their political immaturity. It doesn’t help Brazil’s image around the world.”

But Brazilian journalist Jaime Spitzcovsky says he understands Lula’s motives.

“Lula wants to play an important role in the international arena as a mediator,” Spitzcovsky said. “He understands that Brazil can play a more important role in different parts of the world. He wants Brazil to have a higher profile in the international arena.”

Lula has taken a particular interest in the Middle East. In the days before Ahmadinejad’s visit, Lula hosted Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He even suggested Monday holding a soccer game with Brazilians playing against a joint Israeli-Palestinian team as way to show that all sides can get along.

Lula’s international interests are also an extension of his domestic profile as a person who can deal with all parts of Brazilian society, Spitzcovsky said.

“He wants to be perceived as someone who can dialog with everyone around the world,” Spitzcovsky said. “In Brazil, he can talks to groups on the left in the morning and bankers in the evening. He is a negotiator.”

Source: CNN

Bolivia Hosts Cross-Cultural Education Symposium

November 25, 2009

La Paz, Nov 24 (Prensa Latina) Bolivia is hosting the 1st International Symposium on Cross-Cultural Education of the Abya Ayala (Latin American) countries to analyze educational strategies for inclusion.

  Education Minister Roberto Aguilar said they would analyze in the meeting experiences, visions, and proposals regarding interculturalism and starting from that point, each country would turn those documents into educational policies for the region.

Experts and representatives of the Culture and Education ministries of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador and Guatemala are participating in the symposium, which will conclude on Wednesday.

Haitian, Honduran, Mexican, Nicaraguan, Panamanian, Paraguayan, Peruvian, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Uruguayan and Venezuelan representaitves are also attending the meeting.

UNESCO representative to Bolivia Firmin Matojo asserted that the symposium will allow making progress in creating a process of inclusion “that would meet the needs of all the countries’ cultures.”

“Cultural diversity is an aspect of the multilingual education, of the local language teaching to share experiences among different people, thus the importance of creating common projects in education and culture,” he explained.

Matoko highlighted the Bolivian educational policies, especially the government effort to declare the country free of illiteracy.

Source: Prensa Latina

Bolivia, Iran Strengthen Relations

November 25, 2009

La Paz, Nov 24 (Prensa Latina) Bolivian president Evo Morales and his Iranian peer Mahmud Ahmadinejad presided over on Tuesday in this city the signing of several cooperation agreements during an official visit of the Persian Head of State to this Andean country.

  The creation of hemodialysis centers in “El Alto” and “Cochabamba” is one of the more important agreements. It was signed by the Bolivian Health Minister Ramiro Tapia and the Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki in a ceremony at the Government Palace.

A cooperation memorandum to develop and industrialize evaporite resources of the

“Salar de Uyuni” (Potosi) was signed by Mottaki and the Bolivian Mining Minister Luis Alberto Echazú. The evaporite resources in Bolivia surpass by 50 percent the world’s reserves.

Using the teleconference system, representatives from both countries opened a modern milk processing plant in the community of Ivirgarzama in the department of Cochabamba.

This is the first of five plants that are being built in the country with the collaboration of Venezuela and Iran as part of the Lacteobol program that will benefit Bolivian people, said Patricia Ballivián, minister for Production Development.

The government of Tehran has expressed its support to Evo Morales in projects such as the construction of a petrochemical plant and a TV channel for indigenous movements.

Both Heads of State signed a Joint Declaration in which they defend the right of all countries to use and develop nuclear energy with pacific purposes.

In the document Tehran and La Paz condemn Israel’s crimes in Gaza and ask for declaring the Middle East a zone free of nuclear weapons.

Ahmadinejad finished his one-day Bolivian visit on Tuesday as part of a tour of Latin America. He already visited Brazil and is now in Venezuela.

Source: Prensa Latina

Colombia Demands Bolivia to Leave Andean Parliament

November 25, 2009

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La Paz, Nov 24 (Prensa Latina) The Bolivia’s representation was unilaterally separated by Colombia’s from the Andean Parliament (PA), headquartered in Bogota, Bolivian congressman Gaston Cornejo denounced.

  I had the chance of meeting with PA General Secretary and told me that current president of that entity, Ecuadorian Fausto Lupera, assessed by a group of Colombians, had made the decision of separating Bolivia from the Andean authority, said Cornejo, quoted by Cambio daily.

The Community of Andean Nations (CAN) has four members: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The PA is undergoing one of its worst crises since 1969, when it was shaped in Chile.

According to the congressman, Bolivia’s exclusion has serious connotations, either political or regarding dignity, because they have damaged the country’s sovereignty in times of hard criticism against Colombia for accepting US military bases in its territory.

He also said the Colombia representation put forward non-payment of the Bolivian quotas to keep the Parliament, as the reason for the proscription.

It is a disrespectful attitude that is against the Latin American integration statutes, said the Bolivian senator that attended the PA meeting, replacing his peer Ricardo Diaz, who died on October.

Source: Prensa Latina

Iranian President in Bolivia to Sign Accords

November 25, 2009

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La Paz, Nov 24 (Prensa Latina) Iran’s President Mahmud Ahmadinejad arrived in Bolivia on Tuesday on an official visit to sign several accords and delivery works financed by that nation.

  The Iranian statesman was welcomed at the El Alto international airport by his Bolivian peer Evo Morales, and attended the corresponding military honors given by the “Colorado Presidential Escort Regiment.

Ahmadinejad, who came from Brazil, will meet with the Andean head of State at the Quemado Palace, and later give a news conference.

After concluding his stay in this country today, he will travel to Caracas.

This is the second official visit of the Iranian president to Bolivia, a country he visited in September 2007.

Bolivia and Iran established diplomatic relations at the end of 2007. hr/iff/por

Source: Prensa Latina