Archive for March, 2010

Chinese military donation contributes to Bolivian peace, development: Morales

March 31, 2010

LA PAZ, March 30 (Xinhua) — Bolivian President Evo Morales on Tuesday thanked the Chinese government for donating military equipment, saying the move will help promote his country’s peace and development.

At a ceremony here attended by Morales, Chinese Ambassador Qu Shengwu and some Bolivian ministers, China handed over 37 buses, 21 vans, and 40 outboard engines for boats to the Bolivian Armed Forces.

The donation, worth 2.6 million U.S. dollars, marks the third Chinese contribution to the Bolivian military in recent years.

“It is the authorities’ obligation to equip the Armed Forces to serve the Bolivian people. These engines will be of much help to the social programs, to the combat against illegal trafficking and to safeguarding the security of the citizens,” Morales said.

Qu said that the donation is a part of the “friendship and cooperation protocol” of the armed forces of both countries.

“Both countries have common interests in safeguarding peace and promoting development. China has always given its support to Bolivia in its development,” Qu said.

China donated two modern patrol boats to the Bolivian army in 2009,after its previous delivery of 34 trucks, five buses and three vans in 2007.

Source: Xinhua

Bolivia denies modernizing the Army “to provoke” neighbouring Paraguay

March 31, 2010

Bolivian president Evo Morales strongly denied Tuesday that furnishing new equipment to the Armed Forces was directed to provoke neighbouring Paraguay and accused his opponents to take advantage of the situation to confront the two countries.

Chinese cooperation is helping Evo Morales to modernize the army

During a ceremony in which Chinese cooperation delivered trucks and buses to the Bolivian Army, Morales recalled that Bolivia is “constitutionally non-aggressive” and regretted that “opponents are always trying to confront us” when “I really have great admiration for Paraguay”

“They falsely argue that the delivery of motorized equipment as such, is geared to provoke our brother and neighbour Paraguay. I firmly deny it: I admire the Paraguayan people, I admire very much its government and its president, a man who comes from the peace struggle and from the Catholic Church”, emphasized the Bolivian leader.

“What they should be doing is helping us promote joint efforts between different government institutions so we can effectively deliver to both peoples”, he added.

The Bolivian media echoed Tuesday reports in Paraguayan newspapers saying that Bolivia has eight bases and 9.000 troops displayed in its southern border just across from the Paraguayan Chaco.

But they also mentioned that the government of President Fernando Lugo is not concerned about the alleged re-arming of the Bolivian army since “this country is only interested in strengthening its border controls”, according to quotes from Asuncion.

During the ceremony the Chinese ambassador delivered 37 buses, 21 vans and 40 engines plus spares totalling 2.6 million US dollars, which will help “to address many of the needs of the Bolivian people”, said Morales.

He mentioned among the main challenges to address smuggling, “an illegal activity eroding the economy of Bolivia and Bolivian families” as well as ensuring “security”.

Chinese ambassador Qu Shengwu said the delivery was in response to the excellent relations between both countries and their shared interests.

“We are geographically distant, but friendship goes back a long time. We have common interests in ensuring global peace and promoting shared development”, said the Chinese diplomat.

“We are hopeful we can continue to modernize our Armed Forces. We expect negotiations to advance in access to international credits that will enable us to continue with the modernization process”, said President Morales.

Bolivia will also soon have a satellite built and partly financed by China. Allegedly the low orbit satellite will help track drug cartels and smuggling.

In the 1930s Bolivia and Paraguay went to war allegedly because of the existence of oil in the Chaco region, which was never found. However following the bloody conflict Paraguay retained some of the Chaco land captured during the fighting.

Source: MecroPress

Morales: Wealth is Now Distributed in Bolivia

March 31, 2010

Imagen activa

La Paz, Mar 30 (Prensa Latina) Bolivian President Evo Morales reminded that the richness generated by work, is now distributed among all the citizens.

  “In four years, we have achieved that all the citizens accede their constitutional rights and the national richness, which was only for the benefit of minority political and economic groups,” he said.

Morales added that all the policies started by his government have led Bolivia to try to become an epicentre of transformations in Latin America.

“Bolivia is respected at international level, because of its defined struggle for the quality of life of the citizens,” he stated.

He also explained that the approval of measures since January 2006 has meant to give the Bolivian people what it should be of the people.

He added that his government has highlighted the restoration of basic resources like water and electric power as one of the fundamental human rights and that Bolivia might be an exporter of electric power in the next years, after the installation of hydroelectric and thermoelectric plants.

Bolivia counts on resources to start such a challenge, and with international credits, he finally said.

Source: Prensa Latina

Bolivia Adopts Anti-Corruption Measures

March 31, 2010

Sucre, Bolivia, Mar 30 (Prensa Latina) Bolivian Attorney General Mario Uribe reported on Tuesday that he issued an instruction to implement precautionary measures against those accused of corruption, to avoid that they flee the country.

  Uribe extended the regulation to district attorneys that are investigating public corruption cases, to avoid what happened recently with ex Government Minister of Hugo Banzer (1997-2001) Guillermo Fortun, who fled to Chile.

The judicial authority said that in this kind of cases, it is relevant to adopt the necessary measures, especially if they are public corruption crimes.

Vice Governmental Coordination Minister Wilfredo Chavez expressed the need for greater dynamics in justice and investigation authorities to avoid flights.

Greater dynamics is necessary to fight impunity, degradation and illegal enrichment, and also that authorities investigate quickly and judges administer sentences with great responsibility, he said.

Source: Prensa Latina

Bolivians Demand to Prevent Ex Leaders Flight

March 31, 2010

Sucre, Bolivia, Mar 30 (Prensa Latina) Rural residents from the department of Chuquisaca asked on Tuesday to expel from the country three Bolivian former presidents and one vice president, who claimed a recent alleged political harassment.

  The rural leader Faustino Yucra presented the demand to the foreign ministry and the ministry of government and migration to take the necessary measures regarding this subject.

The leader highlighted that the ex presidents Jorge Quiroga (2001-2002), Carlos Mesa (2003-2005) and Eduardo Rodriguez Veltze (2005-2006) and former vice president Victor Hugo Cardenas (1993-1997) have to be try in Bolivia.

The request was made before the ex minister of government (1997-2001) and candidate to the post of major in La Paz Guillermo Fortun fled the country last week.

On this matter, the Minister of Justice Nilda Copa warmed that ex officials could continue fleeing after the election on April 4.

Copa stated that the Bolivian government has no political or legal strategy and only appeals to those people’s conscience to stay in Bolivia and prove their innocence.

Source: Prensa Latina

Bolivia Govt Aids Stockbreeders

March 31, 2010

Imagen de muestra

La Paz, Mar 30 (Prensa Latina) The Bolivian government has begun a project to rescue cattle in flooded zones, by granting over 200 tons of aid including vaccines, food, and vitamins, local press reports Tuesday. The Ministry for Rural Development and Lands thus replied to the request of the mayoralty and Stockbreeders’ Federation in the department of Beni, seriously affected by floods resulting from constant rains.

The donation comprises 52 tons of mineral salts, 150 tons of hey for fodder, and veterinary supplies, as well as 70,000 doses of different vaccines, all estimated at 154,000 dollars. According to Cambio daily, this was possible thanks to financing by the UN Office for Emergency, and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Rural Development Minister Nemesia Achacollo explained the project’s first phase will benefit 50,000 heads of cattle, and the second 370,000 that are at risk.

Climatologic events in Bolivia has affected 17,000 hectares of crop and claimed the life of at least 3,000 heads of cattle between December 2009 and March 2010, according to official estimates.

Source: Prensa Latina

Bolivia to Ask Chile Extradition of Ex Top Official

March 31, 2010

Imagen de muestra

La Paz, Mar 29 (Prensa Latina) The Bolivian government will start the necessary procedures to achieve extradition from Chile of ex Interior Minister Guillermo Fortun, to submit him to the national justice.

  Bolivian General Consul to Santiago Walker San Miguel told the state-run Patria Nueva radio station on Monday that he would work for bringing the also head of the Nationalist Democratic Action party back to the country.

Together with the Foreign Ministry and the Attorney General’s Office we will take the necessary steps, San Miguel asserted.

About the flight of several opposition leaders to different countries in recent months, the diplomat said it was a clear confession of guilt.

Fortun entered Chile on March 18, and is currently living in Comuna Los Condes, one of the residential neighborhoods of the Chilean capital.

The Attorney General’s Office had called him to appear in court, accused of appropriating $2.6 million of reserved expenses. On the contrary, that authority would issue an arrest warrant.

Source: Prensa Latina

Bolivia’s Morales expects to consolidate provincial power in Sunday’s election

March 30, 2010

Bolivia is in the last leg ahead of next Sunday’s governor election when president Evo Morales expects his party to keep control over seven of the nine provinces in dispute while the opposition will try to gain lost ground in recent votes.

 “Whoever does not vote the whole MAS blue slate is a traitor” says Morales

On Sunday April 4, five million Bolivians registered voters will elect besides governors, 144 members of regional legislative assemblies, 337 mayors, 1.187 councillors plus local indigenous authorities and other posts.

According to President Morales who called on supporters to ratify last December’s support showing of 64%, the ruling Movement Towards Socialism party, MAS, should take seven of the nine governorships.

This is the first time in Bolivian history that voters will be able to elect direct autonomous regional governments, under the umbrella of the new constitution.

According to the latest public opinion poll from Ipsos, published in the capital La Paz’s La Razon, MAS is set to win in La Paz, Oruro, Potosi, Cochabamba and Pando, with Chuquisaca and Tarija too close to call, and looses Beni and Santa Cruz.
However in Santa Cruz, the richest province and until recently the opposition bastion, there is the chance of a run-off.

To ensure victory, President Morales who already has control over the Executive and Legislative called on his supporters to vote the whole MAS slate.

“The moment I find out that one of us talks about crossing his vote, that traitor will be ingloriously fired from MAS; the vote must be all along the slate for MAS, the colour is blue and that is the duty of all MAS militants, followers and candidates”, warned President Morales.

In an attempt to consolidate an overwhelming victory, Vice-president Alvaro García has been vigorously campaigning in Santa Cruz calling on voters: “you can’t work for Santa Cruz when they are against all initiatives; they block and protest every move. It is essential that governors and mayors do not confront government so we can all work shoulder to shoulder”.

García was referring to the elected authorities and electorate from Santa Cruz which in 2008 voted an autonomic statute and were on the verge of secession from Bolivia, and since 2006 have been the fiercest opponents of the first Bolivian indigenous president.

Ruben Costas, mayor of Santa Cruz headed the protests and is currently the leader of a divided opposition but still ten points ahead of the MAS hopeful Jerjes Justiniano.

The Bolivian opposition is virtually dismembered at national level since president Morales was re-elected last year with 64% of the vote defeating the opposition candidate Manfred Reyes Villa (10%) who later fled to the United Sates, alleging “political persecution”.

The opposition, mostly colonial Spanish descendent and European stock that favour pro market policies question President Morales government intervention in the economy, nationalization of natural resources, the splitting of large estates into small farms and granting the (majority) indigenous population political privileges.

President Morales is also a close ally of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and a fierce critic of what he describes as historic “US meddling in Bolivian affairs” and of the US DEA drugs enforcement policy.

He argues that coca leaves are a millenary tradition of the Andes peoples’ culture, and refining it into cocaine is solely caused by Western civilization demand.

Source: MercoPress

Bolivia will host People’s Climate Change Conference in April

March 30, 2010

La Paz, Bolivia:

THE Plurinational State of Bolivia will host a historic conference on climate change in April with an expected attendance of more than 10,000 people along with government representatives from around 50 countries. Many more people are expected to participate via the Internet and in campaign actions on the final day of the conference, 22 April which marks UN Mother Earth Day.

Amongst the confirmed speakers are NASA scientist Jim Hansen, Bill McKibben, environmental journalist and leader of 350.org, Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva, Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, Miguel D’Escoto, former President of UN General Assembly, American actor, director and activist Danny Glover along with leaders from leading environmental organizations and communities at the frontline of climate change.

Bolivia has invited all 192 governments in the UN to attend the conference and is working closely with the United Nations Development Program to bring representatives from nearly all the 49 Least Developed Countries (LDCs), whose populations will be most vulnerable to climate change. Spain, Russia and France have also indicated that they will send representatives and many others are still confirming. The conference was announced by President Evo Morales Ayma of Bolivia in the aftermath of the widely denounced outcomes of the Copenhagen UNFCCC conference in December 2009.

The aim of the Peoples’ World Conference on Climate Change is to advance an agenda led by civil society organizations and in dialogue with proactive governments dedicated to preventing climate change. The conference aims to analyze the structural causes of climate change, and develop specific proposals and actions for addressing it. All media and journalists are warmly encouraged to come to Bolivia to cover this event. Registration is free and can be done at the conference website at http://cmpcc.org CMPCC Media Team, 30/03/10.

Source: Matangi Tonga

FEATURE : Bolivia eradicates coca crops amid local grumblings

March 30, 2010

AFP, LA ASUNTA, BOLIVIA
Monday, Mar 29, 2010, Page 7

“Keep moving … keep moving,” Lieutenant Wilson Santos bellowed at 50 sweaty soldiers as they hacked their way up a hillside through a sea of coca plants in Bolivia’s La Asunta region.

The army’s eradication campaign began earlier this month after La Paz decided to trim back the country’s overproduction of coca leaf, which can be processed into illegal cocaine or used for chewing or drinking in a centuries-old local tradition.

The eradication program — the government calls it “rationalization” — is supported by the US, the chief destination of cocaine trafficking, but frowned upon by the locals, who watch their livelihood being cut down amid uncertainty over their future.

The military hopes to slash 5,000 to 8,000 hectares of coca plantations per year until the world’s third-biggest producer reaches the legally sanctioned level of 12,000 hectares.

That’s how much coca leaf the country needs for traditional use as a mild stimulant either chewed or swallowed as an infusion, estimates suggest.

Harvesting coca leaf for the illegal drugs market, however, is a lucrative, mushrooming industry. More than 30,000 hectares are currently devoted to coca cultivation, the government said.

In Sud Yungas Province, at the foothills of the Andes 200km east of La Paz, much of the coca cultivation is deemed superfluous.

The authorities said it was not a forced eradication campaign, but one reached in agreement with coca growers who are offered substitute crops and government investment in local infrastructure, including roads and sanitation.

The agreement is fragile, however, and coca’s bad reputation does not sit well with La Asunta’s estimated 15,000 farmers, who mostly grow coca leaf for its yield of three crops a year, far more abundant than citrus fruit or coffee.

Locals chafe when people say their coca is snorted up in foreign markets. They say their plant has been used for thousands of years for chewing, drinking and in the religious ceremonies of the indigenous Aymara.

“This is a traditional coca-­producing area. What we grow goes to the legal markets of La Paz. It’s under control,” local farmers leader Emilio Mayta said.

Coca grown in Yungas is reputedly the sweetest and best suited for chewing. Farmers say the leaf for cocaine is best reaped in the central region of Chapare, birthplace of Bolivian President Evo Morales, who was a coca growers’ union leader before taking office.

They said Sud Yungas has seen precious little of the promised government investment: There are no bridges over the rivers, the roads are mined with potholes and the villages are powered by electric generators.

“The government is all confused,” farmer Severino Mamani said. “We need development right here, right now if they want us to switch from coca to growing some other crop.”

“Because if the government simply continues slashing away, what are we going to live on?” he asked.

Source: AFP