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Morales: "time for a change" in EU-Latam relationship

Bolivian President Evo Morales calls on Europe to rethink its ties with Latin America, saying a trade deal should focus on complementarity and solidarity rather than competition.

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Morales: "time for a change" in EU-Latam relationship

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Bolivia has made significant progress in reducing poverty. Its first indigenous president Evo Morales is now in his third term, which runs until 2020 and puts him on track to become the country’s longest-serving leader.

Point of view

"There's a certain form of blackmail from the EU. They promote competitiveness, an open market, free trade. We say no"

Our reporter Marta Vivas Chamorro interviewed Morales while he was in Brussels for a “summit between the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean states (CELAC)“http://www.euronews.com/2015/06/11/eu-meeting-overshadowed-by-greek-debt-talks/.

Marta Vivas Chamorro, euronews:
How would you describe the relationship between the EU and Latin America? Some experts say the ties have loosened these past few years.

Evo Morales, Bolivian President:
“I think there has never been a real political understanding between both continents. But now is a new era, it’s time for a change. Our peoples’ wellbeing requires deep changes. I don’t accept the word “emigration”, I don’t share that terminology. I don’t accept the term “migration” either, because for us the most important is to build, together, a universal citizenship. According to the latest data from the International Organisation for Migration, there are more Europeans who’ve come to Latin America and the Caribbean than Latin-Americans coming to Europe. And Latin Americans never voted laws to expel Europeans, they’ve never built detention centers for immigrants – the reaction is different in Europe.”

euronews:
What are the main challenges you see in your third term?

Morales:
“I want to give my country four pillars for the national economy. Right now, we have a lot of oil and gas, so I want to work on energy exports. I want Bolivia to be the motor of South America. We’re doing well, fortunately. I want the mining industry to bring profit, and also to develop agriculture.”

euronews:
Your country hopes to join the Common market of the South, Mercosur. When will Bolivia be able to take an active part in Mercosur? This year?

Morales:
“Yes, we do hope to be part of Mercosur. But we also want it to be a joint negotiation, not an imposition serving the interests of particular regions. The only interest that must prevail is a solution to the problems of poverty, hunger, inequality within our peoples. What does this mean? A trade based on complementarity, not on competition.”

euronews:
Why do you think the EU and Mercosur can’t reach a deal?

Morales:
“There’s a certain form of blackmail from the EU. They promote competitiveness, an open market, free trade. We say no. Because with this kind of competition, who are the beneficiaries? The big multinationals, not the people. That’s why states should intervene in trade. A trade of solidarity, a trade of complementarity, focused on how we can share what is missing in our countries. We must also encourage organic and ecological products – all for a better life.”

euronews:
A few days ago, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs published a report showing that a large part of the cocaine consumed in Europe comes from countries like Bolivia, Colombia and Peru. What is your government doing to fight drug trafficking?

Morales:
“Our strategy in the fight against drug trafficking has been recognised by the European Union and the United Nations. Though we do need technology. If Bolivia had radars, then it would really be a model in the fight against drug trafficking. Today we are grateful that the EU is contributing 60 million euros towards that fight. It’s an unconditional contribution, it’s not blackmail – and it shows the EU supports our efforts.”

euronews:
I also wanted to ask you about violence against women. It’s a matter that was debated in the European Parliament a few days ago, and the UN also voiced its concern over the murders of women in Bolivia. Why are some going unpunished and how can we better protect women?

Morales:
“Before, when there weren’t any laws against femicides or norms against machism, very few women filed complaints. Many murders of women went unregistered. Now they are being reported, so it looks like they’re rising, but actually, they’re decreasing.”

euronews:
But it appears there are few convictions. Is justice really being done?

Morales:
“We are preparing a meeting, and maybe a referendum will even be held to put the Bolivian justice system in order. You know that because of the separation of powers it is impossible for us, the executive, to say “do this, do that”. But there is also an obligation: through its vote, the people can decide on a radical transformation, a revolution within the Bolivian justice system.”

euronews:
What do you think of the FIFA scandal? You’re a big football fan, what’s your take on it?

Morales:
“World football leaves a lot to be desired. Football is part of our human heritage. It cannot become the business of a handful of leaders. We reject and we condemn corruption in the world of football. Therefore, football and FIFA cannot be privatised, and I think states should play a role to prevent this type of scandal.”