He declared that he would only restore diplomatic relations with the United States once American President Barack Obama publicly repudiates those actions. Morales made this charge at a news conference which he called at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port-of-Spain, following the end of the first plenary session of the Fifth Summit of the Americas there.
He disclosed that Bolivian security forces broke up a plot to assassinate him in an exercise in the city of Santa Cruz during which three people were killed and other persons were arrested.
A Bolivian judge yesterday said two suspects, a Bolivian-Croatian and a Hungarian, held in the alleged plot will be jailed as investigations continue.
During the conference, Morales said the “fascist right” has been behind the plot to kill him and undermine his government, adding these attempts are being funded by foreigners, and implied Americans had a hand in the latest attempt. He also claimed right wing elements were receiving weapons and financing from overseas. “I am not frightened though but what is the right doing in Bolivia?” Morales asked.
Reading what he claimed were transcripts between an Peace Corps volunteer named “Alex” and former security advisor to the US Embassy in Bolivia, Vincent Cooper, which showed an American support for right wing elements in his country, Morales declared: “This is a clear meddling and interference on the part of the US State Department.”
Morales said he called upon Obama to publicly repudiate a plot to assassinate him, during a bilateral meeting which the US President held with South American leaders at the Hyatt before the first plenary session. He did not say whether Obama responded to him but noted that all of these events happened under Obama’s immediate predecessor, George W Bush.
“I am here seeking a dialogue based on cooperation and not relations based on conspiracy. I want to gain confidence. I don’t want meddling in my country,” Morales declared.
A senior Obama administration official yesterday said “some issues of past intervention” were raised with the President during the meeting with the South American leaders but none were directed at Obama.
Morales, like Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, raised the question of the Cuba, saying he would only sign the Declaration of Commitment of Port-of-Spain if Obama gives the assurance the communist island will have a seat at the next Summit of the Americas. The declaration will be signed today at the Prime Minister’s Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s.
While he agreed with Obama, who said in his address on Friday that the nations of the hemisphere must not be “prisoners of the past”, Morales believes “we cannot overlook our past.”
“To forget the past would be a mistake. We are obliged to correct the errors of the past. I am certain that in our past lies the answer to our future.” Against this background, Morales said the re-integration of Cuba into the multilateral organisations of the western hemisphere was an error which had to be corrected.
“I hope that this is the last Heads of State Summit of the Americas without Cuba,” he declared.
Morales also called for “reparation for the economic damage” inflicted upon Cuba by the US embargo which was imposed on February 7,1962. He also demanded a change to the declaration regarding the use of bio-fuels as an alternative source of energy, describing it as unworkable. After speaking about his recent personal and political challenges (including the hunger strike which he only came off after legislators agreed to a new election law), Morales lightened the mood of the conference by asking his host, Prime Minister Patrick Manning, for a steaming hot bowl of “shark soup” to eat while he is in Trinidad.
“I am still waiting for shark soup,” the Bolivian leader joked, in response to Manning’s own joke that a bowl of corn soup would help Morales rebuild his strength after his five-day hunger strike last week.
Manning told Morales corn soup and doubles should help to “set him right”, incorporating a punch line on the healing qualities of Trini cuisine into his address at the opening ceremony of the summit, on Friday night.
Morales almost missed the summit because of the hunger strike he was on, in a bid to persuade his legislators to pass an electoral law to give more power to indigenous groups.
Manning first picked up the punch line on the healing properties of Trini cuisine when, in an interview on April 13, Newsday humourously asked if some local delicacies could entice Morales to come to Trinidad.
Manning, in the spirit of the question, answered, “A crab and callaloo should set him right. Together with a corn soup, eh? And if that’s not enough, then a bake and shark.”