H.E. CARLOS D. MESA GISBERT
VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF BOLIVIA
SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me express to you Mr. President, our sincere congratulations for your well deserved election to chair deliberations of this General Assembly.
We wish you a great success.
At the same time, it is a pleasure to greeting the Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan, whose efforts in favor of peace and cooperation among nations, we deeply appreciate.
Yesterday we remembered the victims
of a horrendous attack on this city, which depicts the intolerance and fanaticism
that brought to the surface the darkest drives of human nature. I was deeply
shaken and reflected about this event, and now I would like to express, on behalf
of myself and my fellow countrymen, our grief and solidarity with those who
lost their loved ones.
However, this terrible episode in history should lead us to stop for a moment and rethink about several dogmas of the current world paradigm of development, which do not make it sustainable through time, and like a dangerous optical illusion, may lead humanity to a collapse that could endanger our common future.
I say this from the standpoint of a small country that is joining the collective effort to address essential problems that involve the fate of the entire planet, because I am thoroughly convinced that the destiny of all of us is at stake in this part of the world, where the poor countries are located. Whatever we do, but above all whatever those who have the most actually do, those who have applied a certain vision of today's society and economy, shall determine a path of hope or catastrophe for all.
On April 9, 1952 - 50 years ago
- Bolivia was the leading actor of a revolution that sought to democratize politics
and do away with economic, social and ethnic exclusion in order to attain a
fairer national community. For the past 20 years we have been able to keep that
democracy operating and we have been a pioneering nation as regards the organization
of our economy. Today, that process based on stability and dialogue, still continues.
However, what we did was not enough, the road that lies ahead is gigantic, and we must travel it in the midst of a series of crisis that we have been unable to avoid. The social and economic problems we must address are very serious, to the extent that a lot of what we were able to achieve could be destroyed by the pressure exerted by those, who in spite of everything, are still marginalized and excluded.
The reasons that explain this situation have to do with the roots of an overwhelming poverty, the unfair distribution of wealth and the loss of credibility in our politicians, linked to corruption and the absence of answers that ordinary citizens demand for their daily life.
We were elected to run the government by the popular vote only thirty seven days ago, and we have undertaken a commitment to address these hazards and challenges decisively.
We do so within the framework of a new democratic scenario. The elections held on June 30 led to the establishment of a new Parliament, where diversity imposed itself without violence or dramatic ruptures, within the framework of democratic and political maturity, whose main effect was to begin dismantling the wall of exclusions, based on the acknowledgment of others, as well as tolerance and respect for the different visions of the world that others hold.
For the first time in our history an essential part of the Bolivian population, the "Quechuas", "Aymaras" and "Guaranies" are represented in a fair proportion. A pluralistic legislative branch as far as the ethnic, economic, political and social aspects are concerned, constitutes an auspicious scenario for courageous dialogue to address our most serious problems. Our unequivocal will is to actually maintain this enriching dialogue, because that is where we must seek the political and social reconciliation needed to address the crisis, and work in earnest to do away with the secular social exclusion of our indigenous population as well as the discrimination of women, children and old people.
I would like to mention especially our government's will to turn the fight against corruption into a State policy. Only the actual effort and clear will to undertake this task, will allow Bolivia to overcome one of the greatest obstacles to development, which threatens to undermine the essential foundations of our society.
This will is part of a historical path followed by two political parties that held different positions, Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (Nationalist Revolutionary Movement) and Movimiento de la Izquierda Revolucionaria (Leftist Revolutionary Movement). Their leaders, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada and Jaime Paz Zamora, understood that at a time like this, it was necessary to set aside the legitimate interests of their political parties and their old political differences, to responsibly develop a project for Bolivia, the only possible answer for our nation at a historical moment like this. This decision led to the inception of an alliance that conceived "Plan Bolivia" ("Bolivia's Plan") to address the crisis through an ambitious public investment program that shall stimulate the economy and private contributions, create employment and diminish social inequities, favoring the most vulnerable sectors of our society.
"Bolivia's Plan" also seeks to address the complex challenges of globalization, redefining the State's role to promote sustainable development, respond to local and regional demands and ensure a state of law with sound and credible institutions.
We know that we are not alone, and we were able to prove that during the course of the past decades, but in spite of that, we urgently request the international community to support our efforts. Bolivia has decisively undertaken the fight against illegal drug trafficking based on a moral urgency that we believe in, but we have paid a very high price for this battle, which has been translated in human lives, negative economic effects and violent social conflicts. It is only fair that those countries where the impact of drug abuse is greatest - demand being the dynamic factor of this vicious circle - should give us a proportionate support. We shall continue complying with our commitments, but we vehemently request the international community to fully assume the concept of shared responsibility that has been fostered at this forum.
A combination of internal efforts and international support to attain reasonable levels of sustainable social and economic development must be reached through a new logic that reformulates what we have all understood as progress and development until now. Otherwise let us look at our troubled Latin America, which yesterday was the hope of the planet, and today is a continent undergoing an emergency situation, with serious social pressures, economic collapses and a dangerous threat of international domination, which our country wants to help revert from its modest position, but presenting an array of creative and democratic solutions to address its problems and overcome the differences.
This leads us to insist that the most effective international aid is the aid that respects the decisions and plans of the countries that must use it. Imposing strict and unilateral recipes, usually generates more problems than it solves.
If equity is one of the first demands of humanity, there is no better aid than an equitable commercial exchange system. Poor countries demand that our products reach the markets of the rich countries under adequate conditions. This is one of the core elements of poverty and social tensions among the least favored. That is why the ATPA law constitutes a step forward, and - although conditioned - it shows the will of a friendly nation to modify a still unfair relationship.
We must understand free trade from a new standpoint, where the rules of the game are designed rationally to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, which has already reached scandalous levels, because it is unacceptable for prosperous nations to impose limits on us, when they are not prepared to apply them within their own territories.
I cannot conclude this intervention without reasserting that recovering our quality as a country with a coastline on the Pacific Ocean constitutes a permanent principle of our foreign policy. This claim, that is already one hundred and twenty three years old, is not the product of stubbornness or whim, it has to do with our insufficient economic resources and our enormous geographical barriers that affects our competitiveness. The lack of direct access constitutes an obstacle to our growth and the welfare of our citizens. The recovery of a sovereign access to the sea, is not only a matter of justice, but an ineludible need for which we shall continue demanding solidarity and support from the community of nations, and even more so at this time when century-old conflicts of this nature have been resolved in this new century.
Bolivia is part of the world and
must continue being part of it, based on a vigorous participation within its
region, and its contribution to a profound reflection process regarding the
type of global society we have, based on its experiences and its own formulas
to integrate and turn its own society into a participative one.
We are probably experiencing one of the hardest moments since the end of the cold war, and it has become necessary for us to be able to imagine a different and better world, where ideas are not untouchable and the hope for change is not smothered.
Thank you very much.