[Marxism] Bolivian Receives a Chilly Reception in Spain (NYT)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Thu Jan 5 04:54:08 MST 2006

(According to the NYT, Morales's reception was "chilly", but here in
Cuba the news has a completely different assessment of the visit:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/45213 Naturally the
New York Times is trying to build hostility toward the Evo Morales
presidency and administration, prior to its January 22 installation.
Their goal is to demonize him in the eyes of their readers. On the
other side, Bolivia under Morales is going to see an improvement in
the eyesight of the Bolivian people who couldn't affort to have the
necessary operations before. Now they will get them for nothing:

January 5, 2006 
Bolivian Receives a Chilly Reception in Spain

MADRID, Jan. 4 - After receptions in Cuba and Venezuela this week and
last that included marching bands, red carpets and praise for his
stand against American "imperialism," Evo Morales, the
president-elect of Bolivia, encountered a chillier welcome in Spain
on Wednesday as he began a three-nation tour of Europe.

Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of Spain refused to
appear with Mr. Morales at a news conference here after their meeting
on Wednesday, and Mariano Rajoy, the main opposition leader in the
Parliament, declined to even visit with him.

Mr. Morales, who was elected in a landslide on Dec. 18, has raised
concerns in the United States and Europe and with his pledges to
decriminalize the cultivation of coca, the plant used in cocaine, and
to increase government control of the energy industry, where foreign
companies have significant investments.

In explaining Mr. Zapatero's absence from the news conference,
Spanish officials said it would violate diplomatic protocol for a
president-elect to have a joint news conference with a sitting prime

But they also appeared eager for Mr. Zapatero to avoid extending an
overly warm welcome to a man who only days ago referred to the United
States and its allies - which include Spain - as the world's "axis of

Diplomats in Madrid said Mr. Morales was new to foreign policy and
was still learning that comments that played well at home could
sometimes cause problems abroad.

"The big issue is going to be helping him reconcile the demands of
the society he represents with the rules of the game in international
relations and in the market," said Enrique Iglesias, the director of
the Secretariat General for Iberian America, a newly created
diplomatic forum in Madrid intended to promote relations between
Latin America and the Iberian peninsula. "It's going to be difficult,
but not impossible," Mr. Iglesias said in an interview after meeting
with Mr. Morales on Wednesday.

The invitation of Mr. Morales to Madrid appears to reflect Mr.
Zapatero's commitment to establish Spain as a more vigorous
diplomatic force in Latin America. His government was criticized for
failing to intervene energetically in Bolivia last June when
President Carlos Mesa resigned after weeks of protests paralyzed the

But Mr. Zapatero also appeared determined on Wednesday to keep his
distance from Mr. Morales, perhaps wary of the criticism that Spanish
policies have drawn from the United States and some European
officials for advocating more active engagement with Cuba and
Venezuela, Mr. Morales's two chief allies.

In November, American officials voiced their displeasure over Spain's
decision to sell Venezuela $2 billion worth of military equipment,
mainly transport planes and patrol boats for monitoring coastal

An enthusiastic embrace of Mr. Morales on Wednesday may have further
angered the Americans, and would surely have given Mr. Zapatero's
critics more ammunition to portray him as a friend of Latin America's
leftist radicals.

During the meetings, Spanish officials were expected to express firm
opposition to Mr. Morales's plans to give his government greater
control of the energy industry, where Spanish companies like Repsol
YPF have established a significant presence.

"These contacts have allowed me to understand other issues related to
international relations," Mr. Morales later told reporters. But he
did not back away from his threat to nationalize foreign companies.
"Bolivia needs partners and foreign private businessmen, but not
owners of our natural resources," he said.

Spanish officials have pledged to encourage further investments in
Bolivia, but they have also stressed that Bolivia must guarantee that
foreign companies will be free to conduct business without the threat
of government interference.

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