Early in the morning on April 14, once it was official that the Senate had passed the bill, Morales ended his strike. “Happily, we have accomplished something important,” he told reporters. “The people should not forget that you need to fight for change. We alone can’t guarantee this revolutionary process, but with people power it’s possible.”
This controversy erupted just weeks after Bolivia’s new constitution was approved in a January 25 national referendum. Among other significant changes, the constitution grants unprecedented rights to the country’s indigenous majority and establishes a broader role for the state in management of the economy and natural resources.
Summit of the Americas: Cuba, Obama and Chávez
On April 17-19 the Summit of the Americas will take place in Trinidad and Tobago. Most of the hemisphere’s presidents will be in attendance. It will also mark the first meeting between Presidents Barack Obama and Hugo Chávez.
Before the larger Summit begins, a Summit for the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas (ALBA) will take place in Venezuela from April 14-15. Those planning to attend this gathering include President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Evo Morales, Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo and others. Chávez announced that this ALBA meeting will take place with the objective of formulating common positions to bring to Trinidad and Tobago, including plans regarding the formation of a regional currency, called the Sucre. These leaders are also likely to lead the push for an end to the blockade against Cuba.
Chávez said that if the US wants to come to the Summit “with the same excluding discourse of the empire – on the blockade – then the result will be that nothing has changed. Everything will stay the same … Cuba is a point of honor for the peoples of Latin America. We cannot accept that the United States should continue trampling over the nations of our America.”
In a recent column, Fidel Castro noted that Obama planned to lift travel and remittance restrictions to Cuba, but that that wouldn’t be enough – the blockade still needs to be lifted. “[N]ot a word was said about the harshest of measures: the blockade,” Castro wrote. “This is the way a truly genocidal measure is piously called, one whose damage cannot be calculated only on the basis of its economic effects, for it constantly takes human lives and brings painful suffering to our people. Numerous diagnostic equipment and crucial medicines – made in Europe, Japan or any other country – are not available to our patients if they carry US components or software.”
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