<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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Bolivia: “We are waiting for an improvement to our relations with the United States”

Chancellor David Choquehuanca announces, “The message from Barack Obama giving importance to Latin America is encouraging”

By Erin Rosa
Special to the Narco News Bulletin

January 21, 2009

La Paz, Bolivia; January 21, 2009: After years of shattered diplomatic relations between the governments of Bolivia and the United States, culminating in the expulsion of the U.S. Ambassador from the Andean county in September, the Obama administration now has an opportunity to re-establish ties with the South American nation.

While millions were celebrating the inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, Bolivian officials released a statement welcoming Obama to the international stage and expressing hope that the new leader will work to alleviate the diplomatic tension between the two countries that has festered under the George W. Bush administration.

“We are waiting for an improvement to our relations with the United States, we want to see how the events evolve. The message from Barack Obama giving importance to Latin America is encouraging,” Bolivian chancellor and Minister of Foreign Relations David Choquehuanca was quoted as saying in the communique, published on Tuesday, by the Bolivian Agency of Information.

Choquehuanca also characterized the inauguration as historic turning point for the U.S., and welcomed the new administration on behalf of the national government:

“According to the Chancellery, more than two hundred years of the civil rights struggles have passed in the United States, giving place to a new leader: Barack Hussein Obama, as the new president of the nation, and with him, he revives the fire of equality, liberty and justice of Martin Luther King.

“The Chancellor of the Bolivian Republic, on behalf of the national government, welcomes this historic event and harbors an authentic sentiment of hope for the new US government, which is headed by a black president and driven by the desire for unity and public change, along with representing a new leader in relations between the United States, Latin America, and Bolivia.”

Bolivian president Evo Morales also recently issued a personal statement regarding the state of relations between Bolivian and the US:

“I feel that the new president of the United States has a grand opportunity to improve relations with all of Latin America, in diplomacy, commercialism and investment cooperation, which doesn’t happen with ultimatums, blackmails, nor vengeful politics.”

On September 10, Morales expelled Bush-ambassador Philip Goldberg, claiming that the diplomat was dividing the country by supporting a violent opposition to the government that ended with 20 people killed in the country’s Pando department.

In retaliation, the Bush administration then expelled Bolivian ambassador Gustavo Guzmán and subsequently blacklisted Bolivia from trade benefits with the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication act, affecting an estimated $363 million in exports from South America’s poorest country.

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America