Thousands of Brazilian Farmers Might Be Expelled from Bolivia

"Illegal squatters, people living on land they do not have title deeds for, whether they are Brazilians or Bolivians, will be removed," declared the Bolivian Foreign Minister, David Choquehuanca, during a press conference following talks between Bolivian president, Evo Morales, and Brazil’s Minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim.

In his comments to the press, Amorim said that at no time during his conversations with Bolivian authorities was the word "expulsion" used.

He added that Brazilians without documents will get proper treatment. "I have been assured that they will always be treated humanely," said the Brazilian minister.

Amorim was in Bolivia discussing land ownership problems after the Morales government decreed land in the country’s border areas could be used in land reform programs. It is estimated that at the moment some 5,000 Brazilians live on land inside Bolivia near border areas.

"It is their land. They can do what they want with it. But we are pleased that a work group will be set up to deal with the problem. The work group will make it possible for us to monitor and participate. And we can attempt to reach a reasonable solution for our Brazilians in the area," declared Amorim.

Amorim added that his talks with Morales had been very cordial, with both agreeing that their bilateral relationship is strategic for both countries. Amorim said he invited Morales to visit Brazil and meet with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

With regard to Petrobras, Amorim said he was not in Bolivia negotiating for the Brazilian state-run oil giant. "That is not my job. Technical groups are studying the situation at this moment and should reach a conclusion soon," said Amorim.

Choquehuanca declared that he would not say anything about Petrobras until after an audit of its operations in Bolivia is completed.

Agência Brasil

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