The radical turn in foreign policy of Bolivia

The interim government took a radical turn in foreign relations with countries such as the United States and Israel.

Chancellor of Bolivia, Karen Longaric.

Chancellor of Bolivia, Karen Longaric. / Photo: EFE

LatinAmerican Post | Marcela Peñaloza

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Leer en español: El radical giro en política exterior de Bolivia

Bolivia is going through a phase of changes after Evo Morales left power on November 10. The new presidential elections will be held in a period of five months tops, ending the political crisis facing the country. Meanwhile, the interim government headed by Jeanine Añez has taken a turn to Bolivia's foreign policy, with a view to benefiting the country's interests and deideologizing international relations with nations such as the United States, Israel, Russia, Venezuela, and China.

On Thursday, November 28, at a press conference, Foreign Minister Karen Longaric reported that “what is being done is to rectify foreign policy because obviously there was a lost policy, which did not meet the needs of the State ... We had to rectify everything bad that the previous management had done”. Under this political rectification, on November 26, the government appointed Walter Oscar Serrate Cuellar as Bolivia's ambassador to the United States.

Bolivia flirts with the United States

The appointment is significant if the 11-year period in which the tension dominated the relations of both nations is taken into account. Morales expelled the then American ambassador Phillip Goldberg in 2008, the DEA and USAID for allegedly conspiring against his government. The United States was not far behind and exposed Bolivian counterpart Gustavo Guzmán.

The designation unfreezes the bilateral relations of these two countries, although, in 2010, they had resumed and there had been no clear establishment. Serrate had previously served as ambassador and representative of Bolivia to the UN. Longaric explained that "the United States is very important ... What we want is to replenish the benefits we had in commercial matters, the opening of the market and foreign investment before Morales."

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Through its Twitter account, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated that the new ambassador has a "special mission" whose purpose is "to establish a good neighborhood and consolidate relations between countries."

In addition to re-establishing contact with the United States, according to AP, the foreign minister also referred to the repair of relations with Israel. In 2009, Morales broke off relations with Israel as a show of support for the Palestinians. In response to the decision of the government, Israel Katz, Israeli Foreign Minister, thanked the new cabinet that he described as a "friendly government."

Goodbye to relations with Venezuela, Mexico, Russia, and China?

At the press conference, there was no reference to the termination of diplomatic relations with Venezuela, Russia, and China. However, it was announced that there will be a "redirection" in how the deal with these three nations works. Longaric stressed that State interests will prevail over previous agreements that Morales would have made, "we will strengthen relations in a framework of cordiality, privileging the interest of the country and mainly de-ideologizing those relations."

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As for Mexico, a relationship that is tense after Andrés Manuel López Obrador granted Evo Morales political asylum, Longaric said that they will enter an “uncomfortable” phase. The Mexican authorities reported that they will not hand over the officials who are refugees there.

The declarations and actions of the Bolivian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reveal the position as opposed to the Morales government. While relations with countries previously considered enemies are reestablished, relations with nearby nations such as Venezuela begin to cool. If it continues under this line, the political turn would be 180 °.

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