Bolivia’s foreign policy back on progressive course

By Gabriel Romano

La Paz, Nov 10 (EFE).- Bolivia’s foreign policy has returned to the progressive path it had followed for more than a decade, with leftist President Luis Arce having restored various bilateral ties that had been severed by a right-wing interim administration.

The diplomatic moves have involved reversing the 2019 actions of former interim President Jeanine Añez’s administration, which had expelled Venezuelan and Cuban diplomats from Bolivia over alleged interference in the nation’s internal affairs and ordered the removal of Mexican and Spanish diplomatic officials for purportedly plotting to help a former interior minister flee the country.

Bolivia’s abrupt foreign policy shift under Añez came on the heels of the forced resignation of long-serving leftist President Evo Morales, who lost the support of the army amid protests over alleged election fraud and was forced to seek asylum in Mexico and later Argentina.

Morales, who decried his ouster as a coup, returned to Bolivia late last year after Arce was elected in a landslide.

Arce said in an address to Congress on Monday that Bolivian diplomacy had experienced one of its darkest hours under the interim administration, lamenting that a “dignified and sovereign” foreign policy had been discarded in favor of one aligned with the “United States superpower.”

In remarks to Efe, Diego Pary, an ex-foreign minister under Morales who is now Bolivia’s permanent representative to the United Nations, said 2021 has been a successful year for Bolivia because the Andean nation’s relations with key international allies have been restored.

Bolivia had been left isolated and needed to restore ties with Argentina, Spain, Mexico, Venezuela, Cuba, China and Russia, according to Pary, who said international projects that had been paralyzed have begun to be reactivated.

Although the bilateral difficulties “were quickly resolved” through the diplomatic efforts of Arce, Bolivia’s Foreign Ministry and the country’s ambassadors, work in the multilateral ambit has been “more complicated,” Pary said.

“We’ve resumed our activity in the multilateral sphere,” he said, though adding it has not been easy to recover from a “political crisis centered on a coup” and that the country “does not have the same presence (it had) three or four years ago.”

Although he touted Bolivia’s move to rejoin the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), he said of the Andean nation’s membership in the Organization of American States that it is a “conflictive” relationship.

Pary was referring to that hemispheric body’s determination through a 2019 audit that there were serious irregularities in that year’s elections, when Morales was elected to a fourth term in office. Morales, who had ruled uninterruptedly since 2006, repeatedly insisted that he won outright and that the fraud accusations were part of an international conspiracy to oust him.

“Pary, who also has served as Bolivia’s ambassador to the OAS, said the secretary-general of that organization, Uruguay’s Luis Almagro, “has been one of the key players in the country’s democratic destabilization.”

After what he called the “recovery” of Bolivia’s international standing, Pary said one of the country’s challenges is to extend its presence to “all regions of the world.”

He added that it is essential for Bolivia that the Union of South American Nations, an intergovernmental organization that fell apart after the 2013 death of leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, be restored – or that an equivalent body be launched – to transcend political visions and governments.

A variation being spearheaded by Morales from Bolivia is Runasur (“runa” means person in Quechua, an indigenous language spoken in the Andes), a bloc comprising social movements that has an anti-capitalist, anti-neoliberal and anti-colonial identity. EFE


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