Tuesday, January 10, 2006

New Bolivian leader slams US drug policy

Gulf Times Newspaper

Bolivia’s socialist president-elect Evo Morales wrapped up a visit to Cuba yesterday slamming the US drug policy for his Andean nation and Washington’s military presence in the region, while saying he wants a new “dialogue” with Europe.
Morales, 46, also reiterated his desire to nationalise Bolivia’s large natural gas industry.
He said his planned trip to Europe, due to start in Spain, would seek to “spark a fundamental dialogue directed at seeking solutions to the grave social and economic problems in my country.”
Morales told reporters late Friday that he would not be asking Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero how to repair the “damage” of hundreds of years of colonisation but would rather be urging joint efforts to alleviate social and economic woes.
“It’s important to understand the economic situation of my country, and so there will be a message of how together the countries of Latin America, Europe and other continents can seek democratic solutions through dialogue to resolve the grave problem of the majority of peoples in all countries, not just Latin America,” Morales said.
He took a harsher line toward Washington.
The United States “constantly accuses me of everything: being a drug trafficker, a coca leaf mafia man and a terrorist.
“There will not be zero coca, but there will be zero cocaine,” stressed Morales, ending a 24-hour visit to Cuba and meetings with communist President Fidel Castro.
Coca is the raw material from which cocaine is processed, but it has also been used in traditional medicine in Bolivia.
Morales wants to end the US-sponsored coca eradication programme that he says has failed to curb drug trafficking in Bolivia.
As a coca farmer and activist, Morales developed ties with Castro and has pledged to support leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s aim to defeat a US-proposed free trade area.
“I have never had good relations with the US government, but I have with the people of the United States,” he said.
The White House has taken a wait-and-see approach toward Morales.
“The behaviour of the new government will determine the course of our relationship. It’s important that the new government govern in a democratic way,” spokesman Scott McClellan said in Washington earlier this month.
Asked about any potential for a US-backed coup in La Paz, Morales said “if they inject some money in there from above, from outside, some military staff might try it, but they will fail.”
“Before they think about a coup, the US government had better think about withdrawing their troops from Iraq and closing their military bases in South America,” he said.
Morales, who has vowed to nationalise Bolivia’s natural gas industry, said “the Bolivian people had chosen to exercise the right of ownership over their natural resources”.
“Investors have the right to recoup their investments and a right of earnings, but under equal principles, and the state, the people, ... the owners of these natural resources should also benefit,” he said.
“It’s sad, but some businesses and transnational groups have not respected Bolivia’s laws, they haven’t paid taxes, they’re thieves. We will be radical with such groups. If they do not respect Bolivia’s laws, they will have to leave Bolivia,” Morales declared.
From January 3, Morales will travel to Spain, France, Belgium, South Africa, China and Brazil.
Morales won the December 18 presidential election with 54% of votes – the strongest mandate of any president since democracy was restored in 1982. – AFP


Blogger Kayaboy said...

It is pretty sad that the Gulf Times Newspaper is located in Qatar. I couldn't find this reported any where is the US.

1/10/2006 10:50:00 PM  

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