Lula Provides Hope for Latin America: Interview

Kawsachun News spoke exclusively to Bolivia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Freddy Mamani, about the regional implications of Lula taking office in Brazil. We also touched on Bolivia’s foreign policy regarding the coup against Pedro Castillo in Peru. 

Lula takes office on January 1st, what does this mean for Bolivia and Latin America in general? 

Bolivia sees with immense hope and optimism this new period for Brazil with Lula Da Silva. We consider this to be a victory for South American integration and for the strengthening of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). The government of Jair Bolsonaro has not participated in these processes of integration, they have not looked toward our region. 

This is also important for economic integration, Mercosur, South-South cooperation, the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization, and the Intergovernmental Committee of Countries of La Plata Basin. These are mechanisms that strengthen Latin American integration. 

On a bilateral level, Bolivia and Brazil need to rebuild our commercial relationship and focus on environmental cooperation. We share a large border across the Amazon where there are constant forest fires and threats to biodiversity. We also need to increase cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking on the border. These are the issues that Bolivia will raise with Brazil’s new government.  

Bolivia’s far-right opposition in Santa Cruz has seen Brazil as a place to which they can escape justice. Jeanine Añez’s ex-Minister of Defense and Police Commander are currently being harbored there. Will this space for them now be cut off? 

The extradition of these people is a judicial matter of course, but the Foreign Ministry is the channel between our two countries for official communications, so we’re awaiting an official response. 

It is true that many former politicians of the previous government have sought refuge in Brazil, primarily because of their political affinity with the Bolsonaro government. They are all conservatives, and fundamentalists, and have an ideology steeped in the tradition of military coups in Latin America. We will seek to uphold national and international law by having them extradited and face justice here. 

How was your relationship with Brazil’s Foreign Ministry? Are you expecting a more fluid relationship now? 

These past four years under Bolsonaro, we haven’t had any relationship or shared agenda. We’re now working with Lula’s transition team to rebuild our political and economic relations, which is important because Brazil is our neighbor with which we have lots of trade, the issue of the export of Bolivian natural gas is also a key issue, also the issue of water resources and drug trafficking. We’re also hoping for better cooperation on fighting forest fires, Lula recently stated at COP27 that this will be a priority. 

Now that Bolsonaro is leaving power, can we expect greater democratic stability in the region? 

This is a critical issue for us, the relationship that some countries in our region have with developed countries who seek to intervene in our region. In contrast, as progressive governments have a shared vision on political and economic matters, we respect democracy and human rights, and we have a shared fight against capitalism and imperialism. This is what characterizes us as leftist parties and social movements in the region. 

Regarding Peru, some right-wing legislators have called for the expulsion of Bolivia’s Ambassador. How do you see these declarations from the pro-coup forces? 

Our position is very clear and was stated in the joint communiqué issued with the governments of Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico. We state our solidarity with the people of Peru who are struggling against this critical situation. Right-wing parties in Latin America have always violated human rights and international law. 

By Kawsachun News

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