Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Morales & Capitalism
global business, rich opponents
Monday, April 21
New York - Bolivia's President Evo Morales carried his national reform plans to the United Nations on Monday, telling a meeting of world indigenous peoples to be wary of transnational corporations and industrialists. Bolivia's first elected indigenous leader denounced such companies as "exploiters" of his country's natural resources, which he said belong to Bolivians.
Since his election in 2006 as the country's first indigenous leader, Morales has been battling opponents of his plan to take state control over Bolivia's oil and gas industry.
He said there were only 300 million dollars in oil and gas revenues in 2006 when he took office, and he has been able to raise the amount to nearly 2 billion dollars this year to distribute them to Bolivians.
"The country's resources belong to the people," Morales said.
He denounced the rich in his country for trying to stop his social programmes, and foreign companies which put their products like cars before people's life.
"Some transnationals think cars are more important than people," Morales said.
Turning to the UN meeting on the indigenous people, Morales called on the world body to recognize their diverse cultures and needs, an appeal that he had made on several occasions in the past two years, using his high profile as an indigenous head of state.
The Bolivian leader said he encountered numerous obstacles to his reform plan, saying that he cannot change 500 years of culture in two years as president.
The UN has provided an official forum for the estimated 300 million indigenous people around the world. The meeting at UN headquarters was expected to attract about 2,500 participants from all regions in the next two weeks to discuss climate change, cultural diversity and living conditions of indigenous people.
The meeting was to continue discussion on the convention on the rights of indigenous peoples, with an emphasis this year on climate change.
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