President Lula da Silva reaffirmed Brazil’s influence during his visit to Bolivia where he announced the opening of the Brazilian market to Bolivian textiles and extended a loan to build a leg of the bi-oceanic corridor which will eventually join Santos in the Atlantic with Iquique on the Pacific.
He also underlined that integration is the only tool that “will help us solve our problems; we must understand that we must help each other, build alliances and work together”.
Otherwise “we are condemned to another century with no development for our impoverished peoples” underlined the Brazilian leader.
The access of Bolivian textiles, zero tariffs to Brazil is limited to 21 million US dollars which is equivalent to the amount lost when Bolivian president Evo Morales refused to renew the US accord to combat drug trafficking under the US DEA instructions.
“What Bolivia is asking for is not a privilege but rather a chance to show the capacity of its people”, said Lula da Silva in his speech on making the announcement in the province of Cochabamba.
“That is why Brazil has decided to open its market to Bolivian textiles and compensate the ATPDEA loss”, added Lula da Silva.
The two presidents also signed agreements to finance the building of a 320 kilometres road that will cross Bolivia and which is part of the bi-oceanic corridor; funds for researching the energy potential of the Uyuni open salt mines and the creation of a centre for trades’ formation and civil defence with humanitarian purposes.
“I was telling my companion Evo that we have until the end of the year to organize a presentation of Bolivian goods in Brazil so that people realize the high quality products of this country, and that Bolivia is not behind other countries in the world”, said Lula da Silva.
President Morales said he was most grateful to Brazil for helping promote Bolivian textiles and because the loan “was not of the ATPDEA type, since it has no strings ties to it”.
On a more political aspect, Lula da Silva specifically praised and supported Evo Morales leadership, “who everyday faces new challenges because he’s only trying to revert a long history of social exclusion and unsustainable inequality in the XXI century”.
“That is why I had to be here and see the hope you represent for your people and the way you rule wholeheartedly, with an open soul, with no hatred, discussing in legitimate dialogue with the opposition and defeating them in the ballots, as true democracy commands”.
Because of the radical changes on both sides of the border “we are facing the wrath of the powerful who are not pleased with having to abandon power and realizing to their irritation how a metal worker and an union leader are doing more for their peoples than they did in a whole century”.
Evo Morales also talked about the controversial Colombia/US military accord saying that whoever signs that kind of agreement is committing an “act of treason”.
“How is it possible that some presidents can allow US forces to come to South America; I sincerely believe that US forces, uniformed and armed be it Latinamerican or South America can only be seen as an act of treason against the liberation of our peoples”.
Morales, a former union leader of coca planters recalled when US forces, operating from Bolivian territory conducted the fight against drug organizations in Bolivia.
“They ignored our people’s dignity and acted just like local police”, he criticized.
President Morales is running for re-election next December. Opinion polls indicate he is leading in vote intention.