Brazil Won’t Accept Separatism in Bolivia, Minister Warns

Brazilian Foreign minister, Celso Amorim Celso Amorim, the Brazilian Foreign minister said that South America would never accept "separatism in Bolivia" and underlined that any autonomy must be negotiated with La Paz, according to Rio's daily O Globo.

Last Sunday Bolivia's richest province, Santa Cruz, held a referendum where an overwhelming majority voted for autonomy. Several other Bolivian provinces are on a similar track.

"I don't think we'll see separatism. Even because South America would never accept it," said Celso Amorim.

"Brazil is not against autonomy wishes as long as constitutional principles are respected and that is the will of the Bolivian people," added Amorim who insisted that the voted Santa Cruz autonomy statute must be in the framework of the current Bolivian constitution.

Amorim also defended a wide agreement in Bolivia.

"It's perfectly possible to reestablish a dialogue with the help from the (Catholic) Church, OAS (Organization of American States) and the group of country friends which support Bolivia." Brazil, Argentina and Colombia are the members of the group of country friends with Bolivia.

"What we must do is work together in a coordinated way, all of us in the same direction. We must find a way to reestablish dialogue and that is what we are determined to obtain. But with discretion, no impositions, we can't forget that the idea of the group of country friends was an initiative from the Bolivian government."

When asked if given the overwhelming results of the Santa Cruz referendum the situation had turned even more complicated, Amorim replied that "the referendum is over. It's useless to stop to think whether it makes it easier or more difficult. Bolivia is a country with which we must work for the national unity and this demands dialogue."

"I think events in Santa Cruz were far less dramatic than what was or has been imagined," he underscored.

In a similar tone through a video conference Benita Ferrer-Waldner, the European Union Foreign Affairs commissar said the EU was willing to facilitate and bring together the different sides in the dispute, the Bolivian government and the opposing regions.

"We're doing out best so that all attempts, be them from the Church, from OAS or the envoys from the group of country friends, effectively achieve a path that leads to promote dialogue and a successful dialogue at that," added Ferrero-Waldner.



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