On June 13, the Valdai Club hosted a meeting with Bolivian President Evo Morales. The discussion touched upon the present situation in Bolivia, the country’s relations with Russia and the US, the socialist principles of administration, the role of Latin America in global politics and other topics. The meeting was moderated by Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director of the Valdai Discussion Club.
In today’s world, an increasing role is played by small countries and regional alliances, which oppose the unipolar world in favor of diversity and pursue their own path of development. Such was the image of Bolivia presented by president Evo Morales, who is a convinced opponent of the US hegemony, capitalism and imperialism. According to him, the Western model of development is deeply flawed, since it contributes to social inequality and essentially plays into the hands of a rich minority.
It is true democracy, he said, that was realized in Bolivia: social inequality was eliminated, natural resources nationalized, poverty reduced significantly. The president believes that equitable distribution of wealth is the basic principle of state policy. Along with the overall economic growth, serious progress has been also achieved in particular areas like the energy sector: “We are developing the energy sector and will soon export energy. Today we are building thermal power stations, using the best technologies from Germany and Spain,” Morales said. He added that Bolivia is developing solar and wind power.
Living in the United States’ shadow has always been one of the main Bolivian problems, Morales said. Until recently, the country’s economy was subordinate to the International Monetary Fond (IMF), and the US military were present at its General Staff. Now, everything has changed, however. “It is extremely important that we are responsible for ourselves now”, the Bolivian president said, “since we have freed ourselves from the United States’ dictate”. If earlier Bolivians were told with whom they may have diplomatic relations and whom they must eschew, now the country is establishing economic cooperation with many countries in Europe and Asia – including Russia – and its home region, Latin America.
When asked by Fyodor Lukyanov if he believed Donald Trump’s policy to differ fundamentally from the usual US course, Morales responded that Trump’s protectionist policy works for the benefit of some persons, not the whole people – and besides, for its sake the American president betrayed his European partners. Moreover, the US has not abandoned its military interventionist policy, whose goal is not to spread peace and democracy, but to aggressively appropriate other people’s natural resources. “Capitalism and imperialism are the main enemies of humanity”, the president said.
During the Q&A session, participants in the meeting touched upon various aspects of the international and regional situation. One of the most acute ones was dedicated to the recent signing of Colombia-NATO global partnership agreement. Morales assessed this move as “an act of military aggression”, saying that now NATO has gained control over the entire Latin America. He also criticized the UN Security Council. “I would rather call it ‘insecurity’ or ‘uncertainty’ council. The rights of the UN member countries are not respected there”, Morales said. “The United Nations was founded for peace, but to what purposes is the organization being used today? To promote their own interests, no rules are followed and respected there”. He believes that this and other international organizations should represent the people, and not the interests of any transnational corporations.
To make “the people’s voice” heard, we need a revolution, he said, though not the one like previously. “Revolutions are carried out by the people’s will, not by weapons. We need a revolution by word, we need to promote the idea of social justice against neo-liberalism, which they try to impose on Latin America”, Morales stressed. Therefore, he is very optimistic about the attempts to integrate regional powers within alliances like, for example, the socialist Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), established in 2004 by Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.At the end of the meeting, Evo Morales responded the long-awaited question about how his summit with Vladimir Putin had passed and what are the prospects for Russia-Bolivia cooperation. Morales noted that the two countries’ views on the multipolar world, security and economic issues largely coincide, which allows them to establish multi-vector trade cooperation. Bolivia has already signed a contract with Russia’s Gazprom, cooperating actively in the fields of lithium and hydrocarbons. However, Morales stressed that his first priority is to ensure a decent standard of living for his citizens. “We are fighting for social justice”, the president said. “This is very important”.