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Cablegate: Bolivia: Morales On Atpdea, Castro, and Che

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UNCLAS LA PAZ 002192

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y(PARA 5 IS UNCLAS)

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR ETRD BL
SUBJECT: BOLIVIA: MORALES ON ATPDEA, CASTRO, AND CHE

1. (U) Bolivian President Evo Morales spoke to supporters on
October 7, downplaying recent USG decisions regarding ATPDEA,
lauding Che Guevara, and citing the advice of his friend and
ally Cuban President Fidel Castro.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
ATPDEA: "Won't Affect Us At All"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

2. (U) Morales announced to his followers that the suspension
of ATPDEA benefits "is not going to affect us at all" because
many other markets will open for Bolivia. Morales added,
"Yesterday I was meeting with the representative from Iran.
On the instructions of the Iranian government, he wants to
know the list of textiles that will be prohibited (sic),
surely so that they don't enter the United States. They want
to buy them." (Note: President Bush's decision to suspend
ATPDEA trade benefits would not "prohibit" the export of any
product, a fact that has been made clear by the Embassy and
seems to be understood by Morales' Ministers in their public
comments. End note.)

3. (U) The government announced separately that a mission led
by Finance Minister Arce will travel to the United States to
participate in the October 23 public hearing on the proposal
to suspend ATPDEA benefits to Bolivia. Vice Minister Guzman
explained Bolivia's decision to attend the USTR hearing:
"Bolivia will present a dignified and sovereign defense,
showing the country's efforts in the battle against drugs."
The same day, press reports highlighted the fact that Morales
has legalized more than ten thousand hectares of coca during
his term in office, effectively doubling the amount of legal
coca in the country. This comes after Morales' October 2
decision not to allow DEA overflights and recent threats to
expel DEA from the country.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Name-dropping: Castro and Che
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

4. (U) Morales also revealed to his listeners Cuban President
Fidel Castro's advice to him when he was first a candidate
for the presidency: "There are always international events
in Cuba. I went there and I asked Fidel: 'What happens if
tomorrow I'm president and the United States blocks
Bolivia?'" Morales said that Castro advised that there was
no need to fear a U.S. "blockade" because "Bolivia is not an
island like Cuba, because Bolivia has friendly countries like
Cuba, Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina, and because Bolivia
has so many natural resources, like hydrocarbons and
petroleum." Morales concluded, "This grabbed me mentally.
And truly, in this moment, the (counternarcotics)
decertification and closing (markets) for textiles with
ATPDEA will not affect us at all. There are countries in
solidarity with us."

5. (U) Morales also commented on his program of "change",
declaring it "unstoppable" and calling on his followers so
that the Argentine-Cuban guerrilla Ernesto "Che" Guevara
would not have died in vain. Assuring his listeners at a Che
remembrance ceremony that the government would continue with
the process of change, Morales promised to follow "this road
plotted by the fighters for equality, for social justice and
the revolutionary identity." (Note: Che Guevara was killed by
the Bolivian military opposing a Cuban-backed invasion.
Morales' public celebration of Che in 2007 prompted anger
among members of the Bolivian military, who felt Morales had
insulted the Bolivian soldiers who died in battles with Che's
forces. End note.)
URS

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