David Choquehuanca: “Europe has to meet Latin America” | International

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The European tour -especially academic, although sprinkled with some political meetings- that the Vice President of Bolivia, David Choquehaunca (Huarina, 61 years old), is making this week through several countries, Spain included, had been organized for a year. At that time, few talked about the energy crisis that today anguishes Europe and Russia’s war in Ukraine was, if anything, a threat that many refused to believe (and would take a long time to do so). Choquehuanca has traveled to Europe to speak, as he did on Monday at a meeting in the European Parliament and on Sunday at an alternative festival in Ostend, about the philosophy of “living well” of the indigenous peoples that he has been promoting for years and that is happening, explains, for “decolonizing the mind” and proclaiming the “death of colonialism, anthropocentrism and Eurocentrism” to preserve life on Earth and achieve world pacification.

But Bolivia is these days an increasingly interesting pawn in international chess, thanks especially to its strategic reserves of lithium, and the political news ends up capturing during the interview that it grants to EL PAÍS in Brussels to a key politician in the transformation of the country Andean in recent years: he was Foreign Minister of the first indigenous president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, from 2006 to 2017 and, since 2020, he is number two in the Government of Luis Arce.

La Paz maintains strong ties with Moscow and has abstained in two votes at the United Nations on the Russian offensive in Ukraine. “We need more information” about the reasons for the war, he answers a question about his ambiguous position in this despite the fact that there have been more than six months of conflict and arguments. “There is a lot of misinformation. We need to know the real reasons. Why has Russia intervened in Ukraine? We need to know (…) There is no information that reflects the true reasons, the true causes,” insists Choquehuanca, while recalling that the principle of non-interference marks Bolivian diplomacy: “We want to maintain good relations with all the countries of the world within the framework of mutual respect, of non-interference in internal affairs, of respect for the sovereignty of our peoples. Our political Constitution of the State establishes that we are a pacifist country”.

But Bolivia is also a country with a powerful ace up its sleeve: it has one of the world’s largest reserves of lithium, a key mineral for energy technologies to replace fossil fuels, which increases its geopolitical power. “Lithium and rare earths will soon be more important than oil and gas,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said just a week ago in her State of the Union address in Strasbourg, at the who also mentioned the need to strengthen collaboration with Latin America.

Choquehuanca, whose country is in the process of selecting a foreign company (in the final list there are four Chinese, one American and one Russian that many give as the winner) to exploit this new “white gold”, says that “it was time ” that Europe wanted to get closer to a region that perhaps neglected too much in recent years, taken advantage of by China and Russia to become strong in the Latin American continent. He also assures that his Government will be “transparent” in the bidding for the Bolivian lithium exploitation contract, although he refuses to distance himself, once again, from Russia, and blames press reports that his Government could privilege “gossip”. to the finalist Russian state company Uranium One (with whose executives the son of the Bolivian president, Luis Marcelo Arce Mosqueira, took a photo).

The Bolivian vice president assures that the lithium tender will be “transparent”Demi Alvarez

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“If we allow ourselves to be guided by social networks, where messages circulate to kill the truth, to kill our independence, we are lost,” warns the politician. “There is a lot of gossip that circulates through social networks (…) It is true that this strategic energy resource of the planet is in Bolivia. We need to industrialize and we are in that process (…) There is an international call and in due time we will make our process known and we will do it in a transparent manner, always based on the interests of our peoples, everything has to be transparent”, he insists.

According to Choquehuanca, the crisis the world is experiencing goes far beyond geopolitical challenges. What is at stake, he assures, is the very survival of the planet, and that requires the joint effort of all the nations and regions of the world. “We live the consequences of the application of a capitalist Western development model and, what do we have? Poverty, environmental crisis, climate crisis, financial, energy, institutional, health, water, food, global crisis of capitalism. And these crises are global. No country has the capacity to deal with these problems in isolation, no matter how developed it may be. This forces us to build strategic alliances with all the countries of the world”.

And that is where the need comes in, also raised in recent days by the EU, for a transatlantic rapprochement. “Europe has to meet the countries of Latin America. There is talk of a possible meeting of a summit of the European Union and CELAC [Comunidad de Estados latinoamericanos y caribeños] during the presidency of Spain in 2023″, recalls Choquehuanca, who approves of the idea: “It seems good to me, it was time for us to meet and jointly address these problems that this capitalist western model of development has generated for us.”

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