Juan Carlos Urenda, leader of Bolivia’s right-opposition Todos por Santa Cruz party, spoke before members of the US Congress at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington DC on April 22, complaining about what he called the deteriorating democratic system in Bolivia under leftist President Evo Morales, in a special session on Latin America organized by the Center for Security Policy. Presided over by Reps. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) and Connie Mack (R-FL), the event also included testimony by ex-assistant secretary of state Otto Reich and journalist Douglas Farah.
Urenda told the session that “the division of powers has disappeared in Bolivia. Evo Morales controls the judicial, legislative and executive powers, as well as the Constitutional Tribunal,” the country’s highest court. He also charged that coca cultivation in Bolivia has increased by 30,000 hectares under Morales’ rule, and blasted Morales for his support for Iran’s nuclear energy program. He characterized the new Bolivian constitution as “centralist” and eroding local rule—a hot issue in Urenda’s home department of Santa Cruz.
Reich mostly spent his time at the mike lambasting Morales’ Venezuelan ally Hugo Chávez, and urging that the US impose an embargo of Venezuelan oil. “Venezuelan petroleum represents 6% of that consumed in the United States, but North American sales represent 89% of Venezuelan hydrocarbon exports,” he said. (Quote retranslated from Spanish translation.) (ANF, April 23)
See our last posts on Bolivia.