On Friday, May 5, in a conversation with reporters, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva promised that he has no intention of doing anything to Bolivia like what the United States was doing in Iraq.
"There will be no war because I am peaceful. Bolivia is a very poor country. What they need over there is help," declared Lula.
Representatives of various Brazilian social movements backed Lula’s position signing a manifesto expressing solidarity with Bolivian president Evo Morales’ decision to nationalize his country’s petroleum and gas reserves.
This decision, which was announced by Morales last Monday, May 1st, took other countries of the region, including Brazil, by surprise.
The manifesto, entitled "Bolivia Has the Right to Sovereignty over its Wealth!," acknowledges the right of the Bolivian people to control their natural resources.
"Sovereignty is to be respected, not debated," asserts one of the passages of the document, which was endorsed by such organizations as the Land Pastoral Commission (CPT), the Brazilian Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (ABONG), the Institute of Alternative Policies for the Southern Cone (PACS), the Brazilian Network for the Integration of Peoples (REBRIP), and the Rio de Janeiro Association of Petrobras Engineers.
The representatives of the social movements contend that the Bolivian people spent 500 years enduring "the exhaustion of their depletable natural resources by the colonial and imperial powers."
They go on to accuse European countries of having extracted the country’s minerals, financed wars, and promoted local poverty.
"Tin was carted off as a raw material for the industrial products of Europe and the United States. What was left behind were the pits, the poverty, and the oblivion," the text declares.
The manifesto also calls on Brazil to back Morales’ decision. "A half century after Brazil, Bolivia is nationalizing its energy wealth. Why not grant a sister nation the right we claimed to be legitimate for ourselves and which gave rise to our largest State-run enterprise, Petrobras?"
In another passage the document says that Morales’ attitude should be seen as the fulfillment of a promise he made to the nation during the electoral campaign.
"In Brazil the media and a broad band of conservative politicians have jumped on the offensive," comment the activists, for whom demands for the Brazilian government to adopt a hard-line approach against Morales reflect the interests of the big powers.
"What is at stake are the gains of a State-run enterprise, Petrobras, whose shares are currently 60% controlled by private shareholders in the United States, 49% of whom are US citizens and 11%, Brazilian fronts," the manifesto asserts.
The document argues that the Bolivian president paved the way for a fairer negotiating process in which the interests of the Bolivian people will take priority.
"The context is in place for agreements which, perhaps for the first time in the recent history of that country, will benefit both sides without exploiting the side that is economically weaker."