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Posted on on May 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

At UN, Bolivia’s Morales Hits Obama “Blackmail” and Lack of Change, “Sign Kyoto”

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 8 — “Maybe the color of the skin of the U.S. President has changed,” Bolivian President Evo Morales told the Press on Friday, “but nothing else has changed.” Video here, from Minute 47:45.

Inner City Press asked Morales about reports in the Latin American press that the U.S. had “blackmailed” Bolivia and Ecuador by cutting off aid for not signing the Copenhagen Accord on climate change. Video here, from Minute 26:24.

Morales confirmed that “Ecuador lost $2 million, and Bolivia lost $3 million,” but said these were more than made up for by money from Venezuela and Brazil. “They took away the Millennium Account,” he said. “We don’t have any trade preferences any more. But we’re better off than before.”

Last month Morales convened an alternative Copenhagen meeting in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Morales contrasts the non-binding Copenhagen Accord with the previous binding Kyoto protocol. On Friday he said the U.S. is “making a mistake” by cutting aid, that they could cooperate if the U.S. just “signed the Kyoto Protocol.”

Evo Morales at UN, change he can believe in not shown

To Cochabamba, the UN sent its Under Secretary General for Latin America, Alicia Barcena, to attend. She was reportedly booed as she read a statement from Ban Ki-moon, then offered “if you don’t want us here, then we will withdraw … we also represent peoples.”

Inner City Press asked Morales if, as requested in connection with the Cochabamba “cumbre,” he had raised the issue of the U.S. blackmail to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and if so what Ban had said. Morales did not answer this part of the question.

Since Ban is focused on obtaining a second term, which could be blocked by the U.S., France, UK, Russia or China, it is unlikely he would issue any criticism of the U.S., even about cutting off aid to countries like Bolivia and Ecuador. Millennium Development Goals, indeed.

One issue that was raised in the Morales group’s meeting with Ban was the upcoming naming of a new head of the UNFCCC, to lead the UN climate change talks into Cancun. Last week Inner City Press reported, based on tips from well placed Ambassadors, that the UN’s short list of four consists of the candidates from Costa Rica, India, South Africa and Hungary. The last is an inside candidate who already works for Ban Ki-moon, Janos Pasztor, who has recused himself from much of his work while seeking the UNFCCC post. We’ll see.

Footnote: given Evo Morales’ direct attack on Barack Obama, in a televised and well attended UN press conference, one might have expected the US Mission to the UN to have issued some response.  But so far, there’s been no statement from the US.

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