President Evo Morales denounced the "intimidation" and "blackmail" tactics from the United States Donald Trump administration that is trying to block international financing to Bolivia for allegedly not taking on the issue of human trafficking and child labor.
"The U.S. warns us that now international agencies are going to cut us off. (This) is another intimidation tactic, another blackmail. We have not abandoned these issues as a state,” said Morales during a public speech Sunday.
“We are prepared to face the lies and defeat the policies of the empire," the president told an Oruro crowd. Evo said the U.S. move is to deter his incumbent run for the 2019 presidential elections.
"There will be lies and lies from the Bolivian right (...) but also intimidation," added the president who officially registered his candidacy last week with the country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) in charge of elections across the country.
On Nov. 29 Trump released a memorandum that called on “multilateral development banks ... and the International Monetary Fund” to not fund loans for Bolivia, as well as 16 other countries, including Russia, Venezuela, North Korea, and Iran until they fully comply with the international Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 which the administration accuses them of failing to do.
Morales asked in response to the measure: "Will the United States not cooperate at all? We are not beggars, ... I will not be … waiting, extending (my) hand." The head of state stressed that Bolivia is increasingly economically independent as the country has been nationalizing its gas and mining reserves.
Bolivia’s Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera who will be Morales’ running mate in the country’s first-ever upcoming primaries, also criticized last week’s U.S. announcement. "This (policy) does not recognize Bolivia’s efforts in the fight against trafficking of persons, and the reduction of child labor," which he said have been priorities for the concurrent Morales administrations.
"There is a 50 percent reduction in child labor" since Morales took office in 2006, Gracia Linera said.
The Trump administration has consistently attacked left-leaning Morales since the Republican president entered office in 2016 and has ramped up its criticism of the Bolivian president after he announced a fourth term presidential bid earlier this year, a move approved by the country’s highest court, the Plurinational Constitutional Court (TCP) in 2017.
In early November, the U.S. government released a report saying that Bolivian coca production is a “threat” to the United States. Meanwhile, a previous June report by the U.S. Department of State showed “that 90 percent of cocaine seized in the U.S. is from Colombia.”