Separatism Won’t Be Tolerated in Bolivia, Warn Brazil and Argentina

Bolivian president Evo Morales The Brazilian and Argentinean governments reaffirmed their full support to Bolivia's president Evo Morales stating that trade agreements will only be signed with the Bolivian elected national government.

The statement is a clear message to the separatist intentions of the Bolivian province of Santa Cruz, the country's richest, which recently held an autonomy referendum – overwhelmingly supported – and went on to demand full control of oil and gas royalties and local taxes.

The strong support from the land locked country powerful neighbors and main trade partners was made public during the recent EU/Latinamerica Caribbean leaders' summit held in Peru, and was reported by the official Bolivian news agency, ABI.

"The presidents from Argentina and Brazil Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva made it very clear that trade agreements are state to state and not with self proclaimed governors," said Bolivia's Executive spokesperson Ivan Canelas quoted by ABI.

Canelas added that this can only be interpreted as "a full support for President Morales," who is facing a near revolt from the provinces of Santa Cruz, Pando, Beni and Tarija, which are "promoting autonomies outside the legal and legitimate framework."

Last week the governor of Santa Cruz Ruben Costas created the Foreign Trade and Export Council with the purpose of resuming soy and sunflower oil exports, which the Morales administration last March had temporarily suspended in an effort to ensure the supply of the domestic market at "reasonable prices."

Furthermore in April the government lifted the export ban on condition that local cooking oil refineries ensure a sufficient supply for the domestic market at prices ranging between 1.46 and 1.81 US dollars per liter of bottled oil.

The chairman of Santa Cruz's Chamber of Exporters Oswaldo Barriga said that the recently created council will allow the resumption of oilseeds and cooking oil exports thus strengthening "actions ministries in La Paz have so far avoided."

However governor Costas appealed to Santa Cruz oil processors to "momentarily comply" with the export requirements from La Paz as has done the US company ADM-SAO which covered its share of the domestic market and was allowed to resume overseas sales.

Apparently following on ADM-SAO action, other Bolivian cooking oil processing plants began complying with what was established by the Morales administration to obtain the soy and sunflower export licenses.

Mercopress

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