Bolivian president Evo Morales strongly denied Tuesday that furnishing new equipment to the Armed Forces was directed to provoke neighbouring Paraguay and accused his opponents to take advantage of the situation to confront the two countries.
During a ceremony in which Chinese cooperation delivered trucks and buses to the Bolivian Army, Morales recalled that Bolivia is “constitutionally non-aggressive” and regretted that “opponents are always trying to confront us” when “I really have great admiration for Paraguay”
“They falsely argue that the delivery of motorized equipment as such, is geared to provoke our brother and neighbour Paraguay. I firmly deny it: I admire the Paraguayan people, I admire very much its government and its president, a man who comes from the peace struggle and from the Catholic Church”, emphasized the Bolivian leader.
“What they should be doing is helping us promote joint efforts between different government institutions so we can effectively deliver to both peoples”, he added.
The Bolivian media echoed Tuesday reports in Paraguayan newspapers saying that Bolivia has eight bases and 9.000 troops displayed in its southern border just across from the Paraguayan Chaco.
But they also mentioned that the government of President Fernando Lugo is not concerned about the alleged re-arming of the Bolivian army since “this country is only interested in strengthening its border controls”, according to quotes from Asuncion.
During the ceremony the Chinese ambassador delivered 37 buses, 21 vans and 40 engines plus spares totalling 2.6 million US dollars, which will help “to address many of the needs of the Bolivian people”, said Morales.
He mentioned among the main challenges to address smuggling, “an illegal activity eroding the economy of Bolivia and Bolivian families” as well as ensuring “security”.
Chinese ambassador Qu Shengwu said the delivery was in response to the excellent relations between both countries and their shared interests.
“We are geographically distant, but friendship goes back a long time. We have common interests in ensuring global peace and promoting shared development”, said the Chinese diplomat.
“We are hopeful we can continue to modernize our Armed Forces. We expect negotiations to advance in access to international credits that will enable us to continue with the modernization process”, said President Morales.
Bolivia will also soon have a satellite built and partly financed by China. Allegedly the low orbit satellite will help track drug cartels and smuggling.
In the 1930s Bolivia and Paraguay went to war allegedly because of the existence of oil in the Chaco region, which was never found. However following the bloody conflict Paraguay retained some of the Chaco land captured during the fighting.