On July 11, the long-awaited visit of the President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Evo Morales, to Russia took place in Moscow. Following the talks, a number of agreements were signed that marked the new era of Russian-Bolivian cooperation. What is interesting this Latin American country for the Kremlin? What was the turn of the two-way interaction?
The official visit of one of the most stable leaders in Latin America has been prepared for a long time. July 11, Evo Morales (Spanish – Juan Evo Morales Ayma) and the delegation of Bolivia arrived in Moscow with a “intense” agenda, because Russian-Bolivian cooperation for several years already (with the coming of the first Indian president to power in 2006) shows a very evolving dynamic. The most closed and inaccessible state of South America has always been of not only economic but also strategic interest for Russia.
The Bolivian leader, before negotiating with Vladimir Putin, went to the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN), where Evo Morales was awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of the Russian University. This decision was a sign of recognition of the outstanding merits of the Bolivian leader in many spheres and areas of human activity and the strengthening of friendship and cooperation between nations, including between the peoples of Russia and the Plurinational State of Bolivia. The president honestly admitted that he had not dreamed of such a high rank, since he did not have a higher education. In his speech to students and teachers, Morales focused on several topics at once: the threat of the breakdown of American imperialism in the region, the pace of Bolivia’s economic development, the importance of cooperation with Russia and the revival of the Native American movement in the modern multipolar world. By the way, the last topic for the Bolivian leader is of particular importance, since Evo Morales comes from the indigenous Aymara people and is considered the first representative of the Indian population as president in the history of Bolivia and all of South America. As a gesture of gratitude for conferring a doctoral degree, the President of Bolivia handed over to the rector of the RUDN traditional Bolivian souvenirs, as well as some of his books.
From the very beginning of negotiations with the Russian head of state, Morales noted the important role of Russia as a leader in protecting international order. The President of Bolivia emphasized the common interests of the two countries in a joint struggle for universal rights and for the global community to remain multinational.
The main topics on the agenda was bilateral cooperation in the economic, energy, educational and military spheres. In the near future, livestock products from Bolivia will begin to be supplied to Russia. Russian companies intend to participate in the implementation and tenders of major infrastructure projects in South America. The main ones are: the expansion of the international airport in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra to create on its basis the largest regional transport hub, the construction of hydroelectric power stations in the eastern departments of the country and the hospitals of the latest generation, which are part of the new Bolivian Ministry of Health. Russian enterprises also intend to participate in the creation of an inter-oceanic railway corridor, which through the Bolivian territory should unite the Brazilian port of Santos on the Atlantic coast with the Peruvian Ilo in the Pacific Ocean. At the talks between the leaders of the two countries, the development of Russian-Bolivian nuclear cooperation was again emphasized. The Russian company “Rosatom” presented the results of work on the construction of the Center for Nuclear Research and Technology in the city of El Alto.
In addition, at the end of this year, the Russian-Bolivian enterprise for the production of agricultural fertilizers will begin its work in the territory of the Latin American state. A group of Russian companies “Acron”, which is one of the world’s largest producers of mineral fertilizers, has signed an agreement with the Bolivian Ministry of Agriculture on the creation of a joint venture as part of the negotiations.
One of the main themes of the Russian-Bolivian interaction is still cooperation in the energy sector. As the Russian president noted in a joint statement by the two leaders, “Gazprom” has already invested about $ 500 million in the oil and gas industry in Bolivia. In turn, Evo Morales announced his interest in expanding cooperation in the nuclear industry, as well as in the field of lithium mining. “Rosatom” and the Bolivian Ministry of Energy, having signed joint memorandums of cooperation in the fields of nuclear safety and energy, agreed to work together to develop the lithium industry.
It is worth remembering that Bolivia owns large gas reserves and is a regional leader in the supply of liquefied natural gas to neighboring countries in South America. For this reason, Russia and Bolivia have a common interest in the coordination of energy policies. In addition, Bolivia still lacks the necessary infrastructure, so the Latin American country is actively seeking new partners and expanding the degree of cooperation. Evo Morales also confirmed his country’s intention to acquire Russian military equipment, primarily helicopters, which should help in preventing and combating natural disasters. The President of Bolivia also noted that all the agreements signed would allow, “laying a solid base for further investments in the economy of the country”.
At the meeting of Morales and Putin, a number of topics on the international agenda were again discussed. The focus of tension in the Latin American region is still Venezuela. Moreover, Bolivia is its closest ally. The presidents of the two countries agreed on a solution to the crisis in Venezuela, stressing the inadmissibility of interference in the internal affairs of other states. In particular, the United States and its allies continue to support opposition leader Juan Guaidó (Spanish – Juan Gerardo Guaidó Márquez), who on January 23 declared himself the interim head of state. According to the Bolivian leader, recently Washington has intensified its activities in the South American direction. However, this is not about mutually beneficial cooperation, but about the attempts of the White House again to “turn selected countries into the backyard of the United States”. In addition, the parties adopted a joint statement on strengthening coordination in international affairs.
Having completed productive negotiations with the Russian leader and representatives of large enterprises, the President of Bolivia went to the airport, ahead of him was waiting for a long flight with refueling on the Canary Islands. It is worth noting that in 2013 Spain banned the Evo Morales aircraft to land on its territory. Then the Europeans were afraid that Edward Snowden was taking refuge aboard the Bolivian leader. Then, similarly, the space was closed by France, Germany and Italy. In 2013, this situation led to the sharpest diplomatic conflict at the continental level: all the presidents of South America unanimously condemned the policies of the Europeans. However, since then, there has already been no such unanimity and solidarity among South American leaders.