Bolivian Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linera traveled north to the United States with a delegation of businessmen and members of Congressmen, both from the ruling party and the opposition. The main objective of this trip was to speak with their U.S. counterparts regarding an extension of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA), which expires at the end of 2006. This agreement provides the Andean nations of Bolivia, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador with preferential trade treatment in exchange for achieving certain measures in relation to, as the name implies, the eradication of drugs in these countries. The Vice-President also took advantage of his visit to speak to different groups during the visit. Miguel Buitrago of MABB links to a recording of his speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Buitrago also speculates regarding a possible meeting between President George W. Bush and Bolivian President Evo Morales in September.
Jaime Humérez Seleme, of the blog Boliviscopio (ES), considered the task of an extension to be a “Mission Impossible,” and wondered whether the Vice-President participated in an Andean ritural called a “milluchada” because the delegation needed added supernatural help in the negotiations. It appears that any extension of this trade preference may now be based on the negotiations or signing of a Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and Bolivia. President Morales has been pushing for another type of agreement called the TCP (Commercial Trade between Peoples), which he signed earlier with Venezuela and Cuba. However, Morales has kept the possibility of signing some sort of trade agreement with the U.S. open. Jaime Rubin de Celis of JCR’s Place (ES) says that no one can seem to define what a TCP even is and he didn’t think Bolivia had much chance to get a favorable reaction from U.S. officials.
Is it possible that someone held onto a small bit of hope that the U.S. government would say, ‘Sure, no problem, we’ll extend the ATPDEA for two more year, even though your president insults us every time he opens his mouth?’
However, there has been less mention about Bolivia’s efforts towards the fight against drug trafficking and the growth of excedent coca leaves, which plays a big role in the original signing of the ATPDEA. The blogger Boli-Nica links to a Center for Global Development report that states that Bolivia is currently in a relatively stable political environment and that the U.S. has expanded its engagement in Bolivia to other areas, such as judicial reform. Boli-Nica also reprints a comment from the Democracy Center’s blog in which he writes.
He (Morales) is in the strongest position EVER for a Bolivian president re: growers. After all he is the grower federation's elected leader, commander in chief of Bolivia’s military and elected president. With the resources available to him, he should be able to craft a solution, that would essentially clean up most of the Chapare.
Even though Garcia Linera and the rest of the delegation returned without any commitments, he did swing by to visit his friend Desiree Duran, who was busy competing in the Miss Universe pageant, where she finished in the top 10. Over the past couple of weeks, the blogger who goes by the moniker Ciudadano K (Citizen K) documented the preparation of Miss Bolivia and provided several observations regarding her participation, such as the notable presence of Bolivians in the audience complete with waving Bolivian flags (ES). Another blogger, Javier Sandoval, who personally knows Duran, vouched for her “fantastic personality’ and her down-to-earth nature. His blog is called Javier Libro Abierto (ES).