JOSÉ MIGUEL INSULZA, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OEA), spoke with La Razon yesterday, in La Paz, before attending the proclamation ceremony for the Constitution of Bolivia.
The secretary general of the OEA arrived very early yesterday to a cold and rainy La Paz. With bronchitis “that could lift the world," but in good humor, Jose Miguel Insulza spoke with La Razon moments before heading to El Alto, where he participated in the proclamation ceremony of the Bolivian Constitution. The trip had not been planned, he explained, but “the process has been long, and the OEA has participated in each step: the elections, the referendums, the dialogues . . . I believe we have earned the right to attend the signing of the Constitution.”
Before continuing the interview, Insulza said that he would not comment on the new constitution. "It was approved by a solid majority of the Bolivian people and, therefore, should be implemented."
What is the outside perception of Bolivia’s current process?
To the outside, it is viewed as a necessary process. In general, almost all countries of the world see what has transpired as something that should take place. The ethnic policies of Bolivia require a profound transformation; therefore, I believe the outside has an understanding attitude, despite any obstacles and challenges.
Yet, conflicts are expected. How can an environment of understanding be advanced?
From the OEA’s point of view, Bolivia is appreciated for the courtesy of keeping them well informed, so that they do not have to inquire. And the prevailing thought is that dialogue is possible, that things are moving forward, and that this is true despite the fighting, the terrible things said, and the occasional tragic occurrences, especially the event in Pando. What is clear is that the Bolivian people want dialogue, peace, and to the extent that the authorities will ensure it and legitimacy to carry out reforms.
The support is obvious in the text that emerged from the Constitutional Assembly, which was later was modified, in more than 100 of its articles.
The wisdom I contributed was general in character. Naturally, there are parts that may be good or bad, items for discussion. What I said was, at first glance, that I encountered nothing that transgressed the basic norms of democracy, nothing that went against the International Charter. I did not dictate the new constitution, for God’s sake. What I did was give an opinion, based on the documents of the institution I represent. Later, difficulties arose that were presented with great clarity by many specialists, such as the theme of the duality of justice, which were reasonably well corrected in the debate.
How does one evaluate the participation of OEA in the Pando case?
Pando was a strong and shocking blow to many. We are accustomed to difficult conflicts in Bolivia, but not involving deaths. Suddenly there are killings under such circumstances. I cannot speak about the facts themselves for three reasons: one, because the case is in court; two, there is a report from the South American Unity of Nations (UNASUR), about which I will not comment; and three, the Bolivian ministers put the case before the International Commission of Human Rights. It is possible that in their next session they will adopt a measure to investigate the facts, as has been requested, which would not be contrary to what has been done by UNASUR.
Did UNASUR displace the OEA?
They were named an ad hoc commission. As for OEA, they are the commission within the Charter and Court of the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, organizations with rule of law for countries that must adhere to their decisions. Not even in special circumstances could I instruct the commission to study a case. UNASUR can. And no, we have not been displaced.
Can a report be reliable when missing people are reported deceased?
I would say that this has negative effects on publicity, because there will be those who then doubt the rest of it. I do not believe anyone acted in bad faith or tried to obscure the facts.
Former President Carlos Mesa said the international community is too benevolent toward Evo Morales, because he is an indigenous president. Do you agree?
I do not question that the arrival of an indigenous president in a country with a majority of indigenous people is a phenomenon the whole world sees as positive. When President Morales was elected, he said something similar to what is heard about Barack Obama: "If it doesn’t happen now, it is bound to happen someday, anyway," with the difference that President Obama represents an important minority in the U.S., and President Morales, a majority of Bolivian society.
He has generated much affection; but, also, at the same time, he has demonstrated a willingness to change, and has shown a genuine desire to reach agreements, to seek dialogue, and to remain within the framework of democracy, thus, making it possible to overlook flaws. Morales could have imposed the Constitution, but he did not. He could have called for the referendum without discussion, and did not. He convened the governors, sought another opportunity in Congress, and called for another referendum. These steps were all taken in order to ensure that the process met majority approval.
Perhaps the opposition will mention fences around Congress?
These were noticeable criticisms, but soon there was a movement toward dialogue. The general balance is positive, not only according to me; the ambassadors of the OEA, including the U.S., will say the same thing.
Will the Fifth Summit of the Americas be the setting in which Barack Obama's announcements about the region be put into practice?
What it hoped for is good dialogue. President Obama repeats a promising phrase around the world, speaking of his willingness to govern "with you." This is what Latin Americans and people from the Caribbean will look for in this summit. There is no expectation that President Obama and Secretary Clinton will arrive with a grand policy for the crises in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East, but two things are desired: a showing of good faith and a different climate, predisposed to dialogue, as well as a number of resolutions on key issues. For the OAS, and for the countries themselves, the issue of climate change is important, but the most difficult issue is the economic crisis. For example, it is necessary to ensure money flow; countries that develop anti-poverty plans do not have the resources, and international agencies will have to provide them.
Do you speak about possibilities for understanding between Bolivia and the United States? Are there signs?
The same affection that we mentioned earlier is reflected in many discussions with U.S. representatives. Now, I believe that for rapprochement, it is important for both sides to lower the rhetoric, not to add to what has been said, but to try to build bridges and move forward. I would also say that themes, such as the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPDEA), should not be discarded, but a harmonious relationship, without so much recrimination, is necessary.
About this publication
|Editor||Carlos Orías B.|
|Director||Claudia Benavente P.|
La Razón is a daily newspaper published in La Paz, Bolivia. The newspaper began publication on 1 March 1990.