VIO News Blog

September 16, 2008

South American Leaders Support Bolivia’s Democracy

Filed under: Daily News Roundup — VenWorld @ 10:41 am
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At a meeting of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) in Chile yesterday, South American leaders met and unanimously backed Bolivia’s President Morales in his rejection of violent secessionist groups and call for respect for constitutional order. AFP reports that their statement expressed “full and firm support for the constitutional government of President Evo Morales, whose mandate was ratified by a big majority.” AP reports that Chile’s President Bachelet (pictured at right) praised the role of the regional group in responding quickly to crises and producing accords. Bolivia’s Morales was inspired by the show of solidarity and called it “the first time in history that we South Americans are deciding to solve the problems of South America.”

A Washington Post editorial claims that President Morales is dividing Bolivia, when in fact the leader has consistently advocated national unity and has never used force against separatist factions. He also extended an olive branch opposition groups last week, holding talks to cool tensions, but those same leaders failed to attend yesterday’s UNASUR meeting in Chile. Morales, who has a strong mandate and won 67% of the popular vote in a recent referendum, is not “forcing through” a constitutional proposal, but instead plans a national vote in which citizens can accept or reject the new charter. In the Guardian, a letter to the editor signed by British Members of Parliament urge respect for Bolivia’s democracy and constitutional government.

In other regional news, on the anniversary of Central America’s independence from Spanish rule, Honduran President Zelaya on Monday decried poverty and advocated the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) as the “true independence” of Honduras. According to the AP, he also defended his decision to withhold accreditation of the new US ambassador, an act of solidarity with Bolivia.

Finally, President Chavez plans to visit China later this month to discuss trade and cooperation in other areas including sports. The AP reports that China currently imports only 4% of its oil from Venezuela. Reuters reports that a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry said, “Chinese and Venezuelan cooperation in this sphere will not affect Venezuela’s oil supplies to other countries.”

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