Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bolivian President Evo Morales To Speak Today In Anchorage

[UPDATE: President Morales did not come to Anchorage. His Foreign Ministers spoke in his place. That post is here.]

Bolivian President Evo Morales is scheduled to speak today at 10:45 am the Indigenous Peoples Summit on Climate Change here in Anchorage. The best known fact about Evo Morales around the world seems to be that he is the first indigenous President of Bolivia. Thus he brings to the office a perspective that is different from the past presidents. He sees the world through different eyes. And, of course, that is why he is due at this conference of indigenous peoples. He speaks today as both a national president AND a one of the people gathered here in Anchorage this week.

Here are a few glimpses of the way the world portrays President Morales:

From the Miami Herald, on Evo Morales in Trinidad the other day:

''Our government will not sign this document,'' he said at a midday Saturday news conference. ``Garbage is more important than human life. We should go for human life rather than the scraps of the United States.''

Morales' threat to reject the summit declaration followed a similar announcement by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez prior to Friday's opening ceremony. At a gathering in Venezuela, Chávez said he would ''veto'' the declaration because the written document appeared ``as if time had not passed.''

At the Morales press conference, the Bolivian leader used the opportunity not only to voice his concern over the summit document, but also to express his disappointment over the absence of Cuba. He said he could not understand how debates over human prosperity and the environment could take place at the summit without Cuba's presence. . .

Morales also railed against capitalism, blaming it for the global financial crisis, and he also accused Washington of previous meddling in his country's affairs. He said he wanted Obama to repudiate a recent alleged plot to assassinate him, otherwise, ``I might think it was organized through the embassy.''

Last year, Morales ejected the U.S. ambassador and Drug Enforcement Administration officials based in his country over accusations that American diplomats had supported the opposition. He said that while President Obama has promised changed, it has not reached U.S. officials in Bolivia.

''Those staff members continue to operate as if they were serving the Bush administration,'' he said. ``It's up to the U.S. government to improve our relations. If diplomatic relations have to do with investments ... and not meddling and conspiracies, they are welcomed.''

Morales said he came to the summit ``seeking a dialogue of cooperation, not relations built on conspiracies.''

''One hundred days have gone by and we in Boliva [sic] have yet to feel any changes,'' Morales said, referring to Obama's length in office. ``The policy of conspiracy continues.'' [Full article: the Miami Herald]

PBS' Wideangle has this overview of President Evo Morales. You can get the whole report at the link:
Evo Morales Speaks at Columbia

Jeff Seelbach

Juan Evo Morales Ayma, President of Bolivia, spoke in New York on Tuesday as part of the Columbia University World Leaders Forum. Morales, the first indigenous president in Bolivian history, was elected in 2005. In September of this year, he kicked out the U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia, accusing him of conspiring against the Bolivian government, and America followed suit by expelling the Bolivian ambassador. Diplomatic relations deteriorated further this month when Morales suspended the Bolivian operations of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). (The complete article here.)

The Economist talks about his hunger strike:

Bolivia's Evo Morales

Fasting and dealing

Apr 16th 2009 | LA PAZ
From The Economist print edition

A presidential hunger strike

DURING his career as a cocaworkers’ leader, Evo Morales took part in hunger strikes on 18 occasions. Then he was elected as Bolivia’s president. So it came as a surprise when just before Easter he unrolled his mattress on the floor of an ornate state room in the presidential palace and began a five-day political fast, fortified by chewing coca leaves. This time the object of his gesture was not to change government policy but to implement it. In January Mr Morales won a referendum approving a new constitution inspired by his Movement to Socialism (MAS). This calls for a fresh election on December 6th, in which the president hopes to win a second term. But the opposition, which controls the Senate, was holding up the requisite electoral law, because the government refused to agree to a new electoral register.

And Wikipedia's bio of Morales begins like this:

Morales was born in the highlands of Orinoca, Oruro. He is of indigenous (Aymara) descent.[6] He was one of seven children born to Dionisio Morales Choque and Maria Mamani; only Morales and two of his siblings survived past childhood.[7] He grew up in an adobe house with a straw roof that was "no more than three by four meters."[7] At age six, he traveled with his father to Argentina to work in the sugar cane harvest.[7] As a result of his indigenous heritage, his parents made offerings of coca leaves and alcohol to mother earth, or Pachamama.[7] At the age of 12, he accompanied his father in herding llamas from Oruro to the province of Independencia in Cochabamba.[7]

When he was 14, Morales showed his organizational skills by forming a football team with other youths; he continued herding llamas to pay the bills.[8] Three ayllus (network of families) within the community elected him technical director of selection for the canton's team when he was only 16 years old.[8] That same year, in order to attend high school, he moved to Oruro. There he worked as a bricklayer, a baker, and a trumpet player for the Royal Imperial Band (which allowed him to travel across Bolivia).[8][2][9] He attended Beltrán Ávila High School but was not able to finish school,[10] and fulfilled his mandatory military service in La Paz.[8][11]

[Morales bio continues here.]

1 comment:

  1. I will miss hearing him. Morales is a great man.

    I wonder if he plays trumpet more skillfully than Gov. Palin plays flute?

    Your articles fill the void, Steve. Elizabeth Bluemink and Mary Pemberton are doing well on this, too. Have you seen John Moller, the guv's rural coordinator at the conference?


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