Question and Answer at the Bolivian Foreign Ministry

Maria Otero
Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs 
La Paz, Bolivia
January 21, 2010

QUESTION: I want to ask two questions. The first has to do with Haiti. The governments of Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales have been very critical of the U.S. presence in Haiti and have asked that the troops leave Haiti, arguing that there has been a military intervention. In this context, we understand that the deputy U.S. ambassador to the UN has described the Bolivian position as reactionary. What do you think about this position and what actions will the U.S. take? The other one has to do with Bolivia and Venezuela establishing close ties with Iran and Syria. The Secretary of State has said that this will bring about serious consequences. What will they be?

(U/S Otero) Allow me to refer to Haiti first. Let me make this very clear, the tragedy in Haiti goes beyond anything that we have seen up to now or can even imagine. Based on the fact that an earthquake destroyed the capital of a country that has very little infrastructure and very limited capacity to solve the problems brought about by such a powerful earthquake, the President of Haiti asked for the U.S. to collaborate. First with search and rescue to find the people who were still buried in the collapsed buildings and to support with food, water, medicine, and the most basic necessities. The U.S. presence in Haiti comes basically as a response to the request of the President of Haiti, and is also based on the work of the UN, in which Bolivia has also undoubtedly participated in very important way. As you know, the UN lost its two principal leaders when their building collapsed and after this they asked the U.S. to assist in their efforts. The U.S. is working hand in hand with the UN, and is also working very closely with other countries of the region, as well as European countries. President Obama had a telephone conversation with President Lula to talk specifically about Haiti and to see how all of us can work together to help that country come out of that tragic and desperate situation. So I think that it is important at this time that instead of thinking about what another country is doing there, or what another country does, we should see that all countries – and the United States having the resources that it has -- work together to respond so that the Haitian people can come out of this extremely difficult situation. I think it is important to know that the United States is working hand and hand with other countries and in no way is making unilateral decisions in the work that it is conducting, and welcomes all countries to bring their resources and their good will to the Haitian people.