“It was an uplifting meeting with a charismatic and down to earth President of the Plurinational Estate of Bolivia. Let us hope the government of Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca continue bringing better days to the Bolivian people.”
By Miriam Amancay COLQUE, Bartolina Sisa Resistance.
On November 2nd , the President Luis Arce Catacora met with the Bolivian community and other organisations at the Bolivar Hall in London, event organised by the Bolivian Embassy in the UK led by Mr. Juan Carlos Crespo.
Accompanied by the Venezuelan Ambassador Ms. Rocío Del Valle Maneiro González, Cuban Ambassador Ms. Barbara Montalvo Alvarez and the Bolivian Environment and Water Minister Mr. Juan Carlos Cruz, he talked about his year in power and the progress achieved so far.
President Arce made a comparison with the first period of 2006 when Evo won the elections, how he found the country in a bad shape and how after enormous work and dedication they were able to lift its economy reaching a higher growth rate, occupying the first place in the region for six years and he is certain that now he will do the same.
He continued saying that during the pandemic the coup plotters forced people to stay at home without any income, with no medicines and the most affected were those who lived by informal trade with many people getting into debt to survive. Jeanine Anez however invested in gases to repress the people, paralysed strategic projects, promoted corruption, the GDP fell by -11% and poverty increased leaving more than one million people affected. There were enormous human rights violations and social problems under this de facto regime which the media and press failed to report on accurately.
The first measure implemented by Luis Arce was a bonus to everyone who did not have a salary alleviating in part the crisis. The second, the government began to control the pandemic and invested in vaccines for the whole country. Poverty was reduced in the first semester of 2021 and the GDP grew 9.36%.
President Arce also said that there was no public investment during the coup-regime, so more than 1,800 public works had been paralysed. These projects have now been reactivated and inauguration works take place.
It was clear that Lucho Arce wants to industrialise Bolivia. One of Bolivia’s most important strategic resources is Lithium which was the main target of the coup and the government wants to promote its industrialisation. This project has been reactivated with a contract to be signed next year and it is expected that by early 2025 Bolivia would be producing lithium batteries.
On November 2nd the National Economic Development Plan was approved which mirrors the needs of each region in the country with a clear and sustainable development objectives.
Bolivia has an important reserve of iron ore in the Mutun area which needs to be industrialised. The plan is also to start the manufacture of electric vehicles in the country.
He mentioned that although we are net gas producers we have to import diesel and gasoline which affects the trade balance. Therefore the Government decided to start with the Ecological Diesel Production using raw materials produced in the country with the view to have the technology approved within three years.
President Arce recognises that Bolivia also suffers from the climate crisis. He recalled that when he travels around the country there is a lack of water in many valleys and droughts in the highlands which is detrimental to agricultural production. The government implemented irrigation projects to benefit communities, to increase productivity and make food security and sovereignty in an environmentally sustainable way.
There is a need to strengthen the Fertiliser Industry to improve agricultural production, to produce supplies in the country as a substitute for imports, using our own natural resources. Now there is a credit programme for small producers ‘Yes Bolivia’ at 0.5% interest per year to replace imports.
Bolivia has enormous potential and the capacity to produce basic chemicals, eg. caustic soda and many other supplies that will allow our industry to substitute imports for products made in Bolivia.
This is the year of industrialisation in Bolivia, which means permanent employment and a secure income for families, diversifying the industries and not depending only, as in the past, on mining or hydrocarbons. The Zinc Plant in Oruro is underway to smelt zinc and separate other minerals such as gold, cadmium, etc within Bolivia.
These remaining 4 years will be devoted to building more projects to continue industrialising the country.
In reference to the COP26 in Glasgow, President Arce said that the global south has been given the task of developing environmental mitigation measures but at a higher cost. He reckons that with intelligence and applying our own economic programme ‘The Social, Community and Productive Economic Model’ .we will be writing the second volume of the industrialisation process.
There were questions and answers with the audience. Bolivians in the UK agree that justice needs to be done for all crimes committed during the coup regime, to look after and improve delivery of services for the migrant population eg. passports, help for the undocumented etc, support for the arts and culture, education and also a proposal was submitted to set up a Pachamama project in Bolivia similar to the Eden project that exists in Cornwall.
President Luis Arce said the Movement Towards Socialism – MAS-IPSP must not fail. This is a government of the people for the people. The promises made in their programme to the country with clear aims and objectives must be fulfilled in line with the care of Mother Earth.
It was an uplifting meeting with a charismatic and down to earth President of the Plurinational Estate of Bolivia. Let us hope the government of Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca continue bringing better days to the Bolivian people, most of all stability is maintained and justice is achieved for all coup victims and their relatives.
- Miriam Amancay COLQUE is a spokesperson for the Bartolina Sisa Resistance, a Community Advocate for the Migrant and Refugee community, and a survivor of the Achocalla concentration camp. Please follow Bartolina Sisa Resistance on Facebook and twitter.
- Help build solidarity for social progress and democracy in Bolivia by supporting the Friends of Bolivia on Facebook and twitter.