Cablegate: Morales Continues to Attempt to Derail Copenhagen Accord


DE RUEHLP #0033/01 0401209
R 091209Z FEB 10

C O N F I D E N T I A L LA PAZ 000033


E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/09
SUBJECT: Morales Continues to Attempt to Derail Copenhagen Accord

CLASSIFIED BY: John S. Creamer, Charge d'Affaires, DOS, La Paz;
REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (C) Summary: Declaring the Copenhagen UN
climate change summit a failure, Bolivian President Morales
announced he will convoke the first "People's World Conference on
Climate Change and the Mother Earth" in Cochabamba April 20-22 --
coinciding with Earth Day. The conference's stated objective is to
improve the position of social movements in the climate change
process and develop an alternative work plan to take to the United
Nations. As one of only five countries that did not sign the
Copenhagen Accord (besides Tuvalu, Venezuela, Sudan, and Cuba), the
Bolivian government hopes to raise doubts about the ability of the
UN process to advance the climate change agenda and address the
concerns of the world's poorest nations. More fundamentally,
Morales views climate change as a vehicle for raising his and
Bolivia's international political stature, especially among
sympathetic anti-globalization groups. End summary.

2. (C) President Morales seemed to revel in his
high-profile opposition to the UN process at the Copenhagen summit,
ridiculing developed nations' proposals, making extraordinary
demands for reparations and aid, and alienating the conference
organizers and most delegations. Danish Ambassador to Bolivia
Morten Elkjaer told us Morales canceled most of his bilateral
program at the last moment, including meetings with clean energy
firms, sustainable energy experts, and leading Danish businesses
and labor federations. Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen spent an
unpleasant 30 minutes with Morales, Ambassador Elkjaer said, during
which Morales thanked him for bilateral aid (Denmark provides
Bolivia approximately $30 million a year in aid), but refused to
engage on climate change issues. The Danes said they are "fed up"
with Bolivia and the ALBA countries, who continue to mount legal
and propaganda arguments against the Copenhagen Accord, but that
they will continue to consult with their European Union partners on
ways to influence the GOB position.

3. (C) Chinese DCM in La Paz, Huang Yazhong,
told the Charge that he has raised the Copenhagen Accord twice with
Bolivian MFA Multilateral Affairs director MarC-a Cecilia ChacC3n,
urging the GOB to rethink its radical opposition to the deal.
Noting he had made little progress, the Chinese diplomat suggested
that further engagement was pointless and argued that it is up to
Brazil to bring around Bolivia and the other ALBA countries.
Brazilian officials told us Bolivia refused to adopt Brazil's
position on Copenhagen at a November 26 meeting in Manaus organized
by President Lula da Silva. Still, Itamaraty official Marcel Biato
(and future Brazilian Ambassador to La Paz) said Brazil will
continue to press Bolivia on Copenhagen, hoping that Bolivia's
isolation on this issue will eventually bring it around.

4. (C) Gisela Ulloa, a member of Bolivian
delegations to earlier COP meetings (but not COP-15, where she
represented Papua New Guinea and the Coalition for First Nations)
told us the GOB's position is aimed at creating an alternative
development model consistent with Morales's anti-capitalist
philosophy. In addition to demanding enormous reparations from
developed nations, the GOB opposes using markets as a mechanism to
reduce emissions. Ulloa suggested that Morales recognizes Bolivia
will not be included in the deliberations of the major players and
is keen to create an alternative forum where he can style himself
as the leader of anti-globalization groups and other social
movements MAS Senator Ana Maria Romero added that Morales sees
environmental issues as one area where he can carve out an
international identity independent from that of his close ally,
President Hugo Chavez. She recounted to us that an animated
Morales told her he was surrounded by well-wishers in Copenhagen
urging him "not to abandon them," while Chavez was alone in the

5. (C) Many Bolivians are quick to observe that
Morales's climate change campaign is about enhancing his global
stature, not about the environment. Former Morales Production
Minister and MAS replacement (suplente) Senator Javier Hurtado said
there is a huge gap between Morales' strident, pro-environmental
rhetoric in international fora and his domestic emphasis on
industrialization as they key to development. The foundation of
this effort is large-scale natural gas, iron, and lithium
production projects, enterprises that have historically proven
extremely damaging to the environment. In fact, the Inter-American

Development Bank has presented a report to the GOB that details the
serious potential for environmental damage in extracting lithium.

6. (C) Comment: Bolivia is already suffering
real damage from the effects of global warming, but Morales seems
to prefer to score rhetorical points rather than contribute to a
solution. This radical position won him plaudits from
anti-globalization groups, but has alienated many developed nations
and most of Bolivia's neighbors .. Our assessment is that Bolivia
remains beyond reach on Copenhagen, at least until Morales sees the
limits of his approach. End comment.

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