Address by Evo Morales Ayma, President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, at the 69th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, September 24, 2014.

Translated from the Spanish by Charles McKelvey

Brother President of the General Assembly, Brother Secretary General, fellow Heads of State, brothers and sisters:

1. Mother Earth and humanity are dying, lashed by the environmental, climatic, financial, and food crisis that has been generated by an inhumane and predatory capitalism that converts human life and Mother Earth into merchandize. Today we have an historical opportunity to construct a new and different world, and we ought to do it without delay. The Post-2015 Agenda ought to express the mandate that Mother Earth and humanity demand of us.

2. We applaud the proposal of the Open Work Group of the United Nations on the Objectives of Sustainable Development that incorporates the proposal by Bolivia and the peoples of the world on respect for “Mother Earth” and “harmony with nature.” It is not a question of a mere policy announced but a shared commitment of the entire world to change our visions of development toward a vision more integral and holistic. We propose to the world the perspective of “Living Well” in harmony with Mother Earth and the construction of a culture of life, complementarity, solidarity, and peace.

3. There has been lost respect for Mother Earth, who today is commercialized and manipulated with grave dangers for life. Now, as in no other time, the premise that “human beings believe themselves to be the masters and owners of nature” is truer than ever. The human being, fed by capitalism, has converted everything into a market, including genetic manipulation and the destruction of the human being.

4. Human and natural life and happiness ought to constitute the purpose of any vision, approach or strategy of development. No vision of development makes sense if it does not respect or strengthen life.

5. Economic growth alone does not generate the attainment of social rights or Living Well. The horizon of equality requires the distribution of wealth and the economic and political empowerment of the poor, the excluded, and the marginalized; it requires community strengthening and the construction of societies of solidarity, and not exclusive societies based on the accumulation of wealth and governed by profit and the greed and avarice of the market.

6. Conjointly with the G-77 plus China, I ought to express the fundamental importance of the recuperation of the sovereignty of our countries and peoples over our natural resources. Greater benefits for our peoples will be obtained only through the recuperation of control of natural resources, in order to eliminate poverty and to invest in economic diversification, industrialization, and social programs.

7. Each country has the right to decide its priorities and strategies of development, but it is important that they strengthen environmental functioning and the ecosystems of Mother Earth in a framework of complementary and mutual support among the productive systems, the communities, and nature. It is vital to attain equilibrium among the rights of Mother Earth, the right to development, the rights of the indigenous peoples, and the social, economic and cultural rights as well as the right of the poor to get out of poverty. 

8. Complementarity and mutual support are the means to conserve Mother Earth, and not market incentives. In this, we differ from the followers of the so-called Green Economy.

9. An important theme being promoted in the context of the Post-2015 Agenda is the human right to water as well as the right of Mother Earth to enjoy water in order to regenerate and reproduce life. Three billion people live today in areas or regions where the demand for water exceeds the supply, and this reality will be aggravated in the years ahead. In 2030, the demand for water will have increased 30%, and in 2050, four billion people will suffer from a critical shortage of water in a context of climate change.

10. In Bolivia, consistent with the human right to water and our Constitution, and thanks to a national program called “My Water,” the Goals of the Millennium already have been attained, three year earlier than anticipated. To declare the human right to water means to prohibit its privatization. Water is life, and it cannot be the object of profit or the market.

11. In a similar manner, to resolve serious social inequalities, it is necessary that basic services like water, electricity, telecommunications, and basic sanitation, in addition to education and health, be a human right.

12. We still have a pending agenda to eradicate poverty and hunger. But for this, we have to combat the ruthless and inhumane forces of capital and the market, the omnipresent power of the banks and usurers that profit from consumerism and hunger. The so-called Vulture Funds are an expression of this, agents of financial pillage that live from speculation, robbing the countries in development with impunity, taking bread from the poor, extorting money and swindling, with the aid of the judicial systems of capitalism. They caused the financial crisis, and they profit from it.

13. We ought to transform profoundly the excluding structures of the financial institutions, like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Such a step ought to be part of a transformation of the world financial architecture. These organisms ought not to be governed by the developed countries, which through clever financial strategies blackmail and oppress countries in development, especially the poorest. We call for the eradication of financial colonialism.

14. There continues to exist in the world an insulting and abusive reality, which is that of 1.3 billion poor persons, more than 800 million of whom suffer from chronic malnutrition, and in addition, the gap that exists between the rich and the poor. This is due to unequal distribution of income but also to unequal and discriminatory access to wealth, to the means and factors for living well, and to basic services.

15. The increase of persons with hunger in the world is due without doubt to the present crisis. If the financial crisis had not occurred, today there would be 413 million less persons with hunger in the world. Therefore, the eradication of hunger and poverty is unthinkable without changing the international financial architecture.

16. The violence of war boosts the darkest interests, such as geopolitical control by the great powers and corporations, which promote conflicts in order to secure their imperial and neocolonial interests. The economic interests of capital today promote neocolonial wars. With the expenses required for the war campaigns, humanity would be able to overcome many problems that it confronts, such as Ebola fever, tuberculosis, AIDS, and dengue fever.

17. We again have been witnesses of the cruelty and barbarity of the genocidal actions of the government of Israel against the Palestinian civilian population. Therefore, we have denounced Israel for violating humanitarian international law and universal human rights. We demand an investigation of the crimes committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip.

18. The Plurinational State of Bolivia, along with other Latin American countries, shares the need to reiterate the validity of the resolutions of the United Nations that demand the end of the occupation of Palestinian territories and the construction of an independent state within the borders existing on June 4, 1967. And therefore, we again reiterate the need to recognize Palestine as a member with full rights in the United Nations.

19. As President of the Group of 77 plus China, I cannot fail to mention the important commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the creation of the Group of 77, which was held on June 14-15 of the present year in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. The Summit of the Heads of State and of Government of the Group of 77 plus China adopted a declaration, “Toward a New World Order for Living Well,” that ratified the principles of unity, complementarity, and solidarity, and the construction of a new world order that establishes a more just and democratic system for the benefit of our peoples.

20. We applaud the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America—Treaty of Commerce of the Peoples (ALBA-TCP) for completing ten years of tireless labor for an integration of the peoples, which goes beyond commercial benefits, and which concentrates his efforts on promoting the values of cooperation, solidarity, and complementarity. ALBA-TCP has been consolidated in its ten years as an important actor in Latin America and the world.

21. Since March 2011, 150,000 persons have died in Syria, and 3 million persons have fled as refugees to neighboring countries. Bolivia shares the perspective that the future and the destiny of Syria ought to be determined by the Syrian people themselves in the full exercise of its democracy, in conformity with the United Nations Charter.

22. Bolivia condemns and rejects the interference of the United States of America in Iraq, which has provoked the present crisis in the country. The war unleashed in 2003 against Iraq destabilized the entire region. It was said that Iraq possessed great quantities of arms of mass destruction, and that cunning argument turned out to be one of the biggest lies in the history of imperialism. On the basis of this lie, peaceful co-existence among religious, ethnic, and social groups has been destroyed. This situation has given rise to a terrorist group, the so-called Islamic State, which has placed Iraq in a new situation of war that threatens the entire region. Bolivia rejects the extreme violence against the civil society of this terrorist group, and it affirms with full conviction that nothing justifies the fratricidal violence.

23. The invasion of Iraq, combined other historic facts, teaches us the lesson that where the United States intervenes, it leaves destruction, hate, misery and death, but it also leaves wealth in the hands of those that profit from wars: the transnationals of the arms industry, and the petroleum transnationals. 

24. With the culture of peace, we ought to eradicate the extremist fanatics, but also the imperial militarism that is promoted by the United States, which before war threatens with more war. The United Nations has been created to construct and promote peace, and not to justify invasions and wars.

25. War against war is not equal to peace. This is a perverse formula, a formula of death and destruction without end. We ought to resolve the structural causes of war: marginality; poverty; the absence of opportunity; cultural, political and social exclusion; discrimination; inequality; the seizure and robbery of territory; ruthless capitalism; and the dictatorship of transnational interests. Every year in this Assembly we hear from Mr. Obama a discourse of war, of arrogance, and of threats to the peoples of the world. That also is a discourse of extremist fanaticism.

26. The economic, commercial and financial blockade of the government of the United States against Cuba is the principal tool of the policy of the United States in its desire to destroy the Revolution and to restore its hegemony over Cuban territory. The blockade against Cuba is the most unjust, severe and prolonged system of unilateral sanctions that has been applied against any country. The blockade qualifies as an act of genocide. This colonial blockade ought to be ended immediately.

27. We want to express in this Assembly the historic rights of the Bolivian people of access to the sea, a right trampled by a brutal invasion promoted by colonial business interests. The colonial imposition, the absence of a genuinely participatory democracy, and the interests of foreign companies placed themselves between the Bolivian and Peruvian peoples, brother peoples who were led to war to the benefit of transnationals. 

28. Therefore, with the conviction of a country that believes in and promotes peace, and convinced of the harmony of our relations with all of our neighbors, we are turning to the International Court of Justice in search of dialogue, in order to resolve peacefully and in good faith a prolonged dispute over our sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean.

29. Our demand seeks neither to alter the international order with respect to limits and borders nor to threaten the international treaties that the government of Chile intends to make. To the contrary, Bolivia invokes international law and its principles in order to resolve in a concerted manner and in good faith its sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean.

30. We would do well for our peoples, our new generations, the region, and the world to agree to an effective and peaceful solution for the sovereign access of Bolivia to the sea. Therefore, I ask all of the countries of the United Nations in this 69thaccompany us, not only Bolivia but also our neighbor Chile, in this challenge for peace, justice, and right.

31. We ought to eradicate violence and war, to denounce the imperialist militarism of the world powers, which arrogantly believe that they incarnate the ideals of freedom. These imperial powers are using their media of communication to manipulate the will and the emotions of the peoples, lying and deceiving with impunity, dividing and confronting nations and communities, in order to promote wars for controlling strategic resources and placing them at the service of their transnational corporations.

32. This is the century of peace, but peace with sovereignty, with freedom for the peoples and not with freedom for the market. This is the century of Agreements of Freedom for Life and Peace, and not Agreements of Freedom for Commerce. There will not be harmony if the arrogance of the empires and their renewed colonialism hounds, seizes, and assassinates the human beings, cultures, and peoples of the world.

33. The empire of the finances, the empire of the markets, and the empire of the arms industry must succumb in order to give way to the wisdom of life and to life in harmony and peace.