Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Hillary Clinton on Morales and Bolivia



As the Bush administration heads out the door, the U.S. Bolivia relationship is basically in political tatters. A relationship that started off rocky but hopeful when President Morales took office, descended into an ongoing diplomatic spitting war – over issues ranging from the U.S. Embassy asking Fulbright scholars and Peace Corps volunteers to gather intelligence for it, to charges that Morales was abandoning the battle against illegal coca.

All that hit rock bottom in September when Morales charged the U.S. Ambassador with stirring up political protest against the government and sent him back to Washington, followed by the U.S. sending Bolivia's ambassador packing, decertifying the Bolivia anti-coca effort, and axing Bolivia from a trade program threatening 20,000 jobs.

So the question is whether that sour turn in U.S. relations will change course under President Barak Obama. Morales has made it clear both in private and in public, in a series of speeches in the U.S. last month, that he is hopeful for a new start. How does the incoming administration feel about Bolivia?

Last January, we asked a friend of the Democracy Center, Tim Provencal, a former Maryknoll lay missioner in El Alto, to wade through the snows of Dover, New Hampshire and ask then-candidate Hillary Clinton a question about Bolivia. That video is a part of the Democracy Center's Voices from Latin America campaign which you can learn more about here.

Today Clinton is President-elect Obama's designate for U.S. Secretary of State. That makes her public comments in January, in which she voiced strong support for Morales, all the more relevant. To see a video of her complete statement on Bolivia, click on the video screen above. Here is a portion of what she had to say:

I understand the pent up desire of the people of Bolivia, especially the indigenous people, to finally have a say in their country and in their future…and I think that the United States has made a series of miscalculations. Granted they go back decades but they've been a particular problem in this [the Bush] administration. I believe we should have done much more to support Morales. He has done what is understandable, as a populist leader, he has turned to those like Chavez who have offered to help him…so I will try to create a new relationship with Latin America and that certainly includes Bolivia.

Time and politics, and the developments in the U.S./Bolivia relationship since September, can certainly have an effect on the way Secretary Clinton will steer that relationship. But if her views expressed in public in Dover a year ago hold, the door seems open for a change of course – and that would be a good thing for both countries.

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21 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would hardly spin that as "strong support," besides, what if by "support" she meant more funds for the DEA/UMOPAR/USAID?? All politicians will tell you that they support democratically elected goverments, specially in public, and specially during a campaign...heck I got Tony Blair on record saying that he supports Chavez' policies, but we all know the truth.

The facts on the ground have changed: UN Reports increased cocaine activity and the perception is clearly that Evo is paying back his cocaleros by removing any sort of control. Since this question has been asked, Evo has become more hostile, has increased his rethoric and has become voiced support of Iran's nuclear power and made it official policy blaming the US for any and all protests against his regime.

Finally, in another spin. I guess Jim is a bit more media savvy and chose not to show the video showing the actual gringo dressed in native garb and chewing coca asking the question - - a montage that I found just as offensive as croat/jew/beni/katrina's characterization of Obama and Morales as monkey or focusing on the lack of hygine of the natives...Thank god for the white people at maryknoll, we us poor savages don't know any better, and I am extremely grateful that he can wear a ll'uchu and chew coca, that must means that he really, really likes us and understand us ( I wonder if that was chapare or yungas coca??)

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You call that strong support? That was vacuous, empty rhetoric used to pacify her supporters. She did not address any particular issues. Obviously she couldn't because she does not want to be in a position to have to look like she is backtracking when she caves into the traditional hawks that run the establishment.

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course time will tell. "Strong support" in the snows of New Hampshire nearly a year ago faces the reality on the ground. It is not obvious how much leeway the Obama administration is going to have on interpretation of laws on the books having to do with drug interdiction. Without the DEA on the ground or at least having an official liaison it is going to be hard to recertify the Bolivian effort. Maybe a purely South American entity can take the place of the DEA. Until there is some form of independent verification of the anti-drug effort it will be a stretch for the new Obama administration to make much of a move on this particular point. And if you want to think out loud, imagine how much snow from New England it will take to cool off the passions of the cocaleros in the Chapare enough to allow USAID to return..... From here in the Cochabamba Dpto it appears that it will take a lot more than rhetoric to mend some fundamental differences of opinion that exist between the two countries.

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, H. Clinton is a hawk in foreign policy, and will adhere to the letter of the law regarding US antidrug policy. She's as scary as a Cruella Deville and has tougher skin than a grizzled crocodile.

It will take more than Cuchi Cuchi worshipper's mumbo jumbo mysticism about being part of the "culture of life and dialogue," bla, bla to impress H. Clinton. Unless he shows some real contrition and reverts his disastrous policies, he's up for some nasty surprises with his "brother from another mother" Obama's government.

;-)

The Croats are Morales' Jews
Beni is Morales' Katrina

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a bolivian citizen. I will encourage US to stress the importance of the drug traffic reduction and drug law enforcement in Bolivia. The amount of drug related crime has increased exponentially since Morales (a former coca union farmer) took government. The matter is touchy for Morales, but I wonder if he can have some detachement from his political base (indigenous coca farmers).

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quote from Anon 3:02 yesterday:

"And please, find something more original than putting Obama in the mix for your argument. It's boring and childish."

6:40 PM  
Blogger Frank_IBC said...

Oh dear... not that "Hey, look at me! I'm a gringo masticando la coca!" idiot again...

7:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get a life croat from beni. We know that the coca issue is an excuse to distort the reality of Bolivia.
Only people who are part of the corrupted right including the Santa Cruz Cardenal who should take his habits and join the Civicos to preserve the status quo, are claiming that coca and cocaine are a problem.
If you have no consumers in gringoland, there would be no suppliers in andean land.
Clinton is not stupid she will be able to see the trees in the forest.

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon you sound just like Mr. Cowboy Bush, if we don't agree to the fact that ALL coca is good for the body and will ensure that we will live to become 700yrs...well, that must mean we are part of the CIA/Croat/Civico cabal and there is nothing that will make us happier than to see all natives as our slaves.

Bolivia offers very few job opportunities for its mostly unskilled population. With the mines going bankrupt, Evo declaring open season on the lowland agribusiness, the only viable choice people will have is to join the coca-cocaine circuit.

Now if you don't think cocaine is a problem in Bolivia, why don't we deffer to Jim and his cohort?

Why doesn't he let an NGO that treats "pasta base" addicts or a "tragon" write a column one of these weeks.

The mass murder of women in Ciudad Juarez is, after all, not due to US Imperialism, but thanks to local druglords, is that what you want to see in Quillacollo?

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

C'mon, the Cardinal wears dresses and only pays attention to those of the male sex. What does he know real life?

12:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crime is on the increase in the department of Santa Cruz because the "civicos" flooded the, now extinct, Media Luna with weapons for their failed putsch. Marincovic and Co.'s decommissioned militias are at the forefront of the crime spree in the lowlands.

Franco

1:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Bolivian me remembers, many of the cocaine-drug lords in Bolivia came from the "financially rich- eastern lowlands". The Suarez family, with the infamous Techo de Paja is but one example, then there were the Benianos and yeah, even Oscar Eid, the mestizo MNR candidate from the highlands got his US visa revoked for transporting or being involved in some cocaine related mumbo-jumbo....So, is the opposition now inferring these are the new allies of Morales?

1:52 AM  
Blogger Norman said...

"If you have no consumers in gringoland, there would be no suppliers in andean land."

You're delusional. Very little Bolivia cocaine goes to gringolandia. It goes east, not north. You have a problem folks. Now that the DEA is out, the narcos are not exactly shaking in their boots, particularly since they have a former (current?) supplier in the highest office of the land.

8:33 PM  
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10:44 PM  
Blogger www.thescarletpimpernel.info said...

Good Post, Jim. It is too bad that the cases of arrested development that seem to inhabit the comments section of your posts can't stop sexually abusing themselves long enough to get their own blog space to write their uneducated, ignorant and barely literat tripe on. Grow up folks! If you want to make changes, you have to be able to communicate your ideas, such as they are, in a reasonably coherent manner. :)

4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They do have Blogs, just no one reads them. Wonder why?

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