Foreign Policy

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The Morales government has, to a great extent, consolidated previous policies. Geopolitically, it has realigned Bolivia according to a multi-polar axis through important international relations with states supporting particularism. Russia stands out among these. Together, they have created a strategic partnership based on multiple bilateral agreements in energy, commerce, and arms. They centre on modernising Bolivian armaments, constructing an international airport in Bolivia, and maintaining aircraft, as well as a $100m loan from Moscow.
Besides Moscow, Bolivia found privileged interlocutors in Peking and Tehran. It turned to Russia for financial and technological investments and signed an agreement with Tehran on the civilian use of nuclear power.
bol19Morales has also proved practical, settling an important agreement with South Korea on mining and selling Bolivian lithium reserves. Besides, he has increased the awareness of regional and international organisations on the classical demands of the Bolivian indigenous movement. These include Bolivian proposals on food security and social equality, the struggle to recognise indigenous people’s rights, environmental initiatives, the protection of biodiversity, and the candidacy of Qhapak Ñan (the pre-Colombian road system) to the world heritage list.
bol20Regionally, Bolivia is fostering relations with Argentina, with which it has signed an agreement for cooperation and gas trading. It is cooperating with Peru and Brazil in border security; it is contesting a strategic sea outlet with Chile. Morales has also made the country a member of ALBA, MERCOSUR, UNASUR, and CAN. ALBA has signed agreements with Venezuela and the recently deceased Chavez, on energy cooperation which allowed the PDVSA to provide Bolivia with essential support in know how during nationalisation. Both presidents also signed agreements promoting education, medical services, and sports with the aim of creating an “Andean – Caribbean” axis.
The above scenario could change. The Bolivian presidential elections of 2014 could bring a change at the head of the government. Morales doubtless intends to attain a new mandate necessary to complete the changes already begun. We don’t know if he will be re-elected or if he will indeed be a candidate. The Constitution does not provide for a third term (“mandates preceding the coming into law of this Constitution will be taken into account for the purposes of calculating new periods … the president and the vice-president may later be re-elected once only”). Morales might argue that his first mandate was not entirely valid – since it was reduced (2006 – 2009) to allow the new Constitution to come into law. The question awaits the Constitutional Court’s judgement.
Last April, the Constitutional Court decided that President Evo Morales will be able to run for the 2015-2020 presidential mandate in the elections scheduled for December 2014. The decision was taken unanimously by the High Court meeting in ‘plenum’ as announced by its leader, Ruddy Flores. According to the judges, the 2009 Constitution does not place any obstacles that would prevent Morales from running again with his current deputy, Alvaro Garcia. Flores said that the verdict of the Constitutional Court “is binding.” Election results may be uncertain since MAS, in some people’s views, is losing support in the poorer sections of the population and not gaining the support of the eastern regions of the country.
Filippo  Romeo


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