Organization of American States


December 3, 2001



             The President of Bolivia, Jorge Quiroga, said today at the Organization of American States (OAS) that the best response to the terrorist acts of September 11 is to support the Inter-American Democratic Charter, signed on that date in Lima, Peru, by representatives of the 34 democratic states of the Americas. 

            The Bolivian leader, speaking at a protocolary meeting held by the OAS Permanent Council to welcome him, referred to the challenges that “we face together in this 21st century:  combating terrorism, drug trafficking, and corruption, and the ongoing struggle for the development of our peoples.”  

            On the drug trafficking problem, President Quiroga referred to the implementation of the Dignity Plan, which has “dramatically” reduced coca leaf crops. “We do not accept drug trafficking in the guise of social action, nor should we accept terrorism in the guise of political action,” he said.

             He also referred to steps his government has taken to fight corruption, by strengthening state institutions, and to deal with poverty.  “Our task in the 21st century will not be complete if we do not address trade liberalization on all fronts and at all levels,” he said. 

Finally, President Quiroga said “we are aware of the short-term economic problems facing all of us in the region, and are convinced that economic difficulties should serve never to infringe on democracy but rather to strengthen it.”  

            In his welcoming remarks, the Chair of the OAS Permanent Council, Ambassador Swinburne Lestrade of Dominica, spoke of President Quiroga’s “extraordinary record of achievements” in service to his country, particularly in strengthening democracy. 

“Bolivia is one of the founding countries of the OAS and, since that time, has participated actively in building and carrying out the inter-American agenda,” recalled the Caribbean diplomat. He mentioned the Summit of the Americas on Sustainable Development, held in 1996, and the high-level meeting on decentralization and local governance, held this year, as two events through which “Bolivia has made a significant contribution.” 

For his part, the Secretary General of the OAS, César Gaviria, agreed with President Quiroga that “one of the most important achievements of the OAS in its new role in the Hemisphere is, without a doubt, the Inter-American Democratic Charter.”  

He also praised the initiative of reforming the country’s Constitution, which, in his view, is a way to strengthen its democratic institutions. “The end of the one-party monopoly, the adoption of the referendum and other means of consulting the populace, and increased decentralization, among other initiatives, will translate into significant progress toward full democracy,” he said. 

Referring to “Bolivia’s ceaseless efforts to fight drug trafficking,” the Secretary General said that the results of the Dignity Plan have been very good to date in terms of crop eradication. “All of the international community must recognize the enormous effort being made by Bolivian society, the serious social conflict that has arisen from that struggle, and the need for continuing alternative development and crop substitution programs, without which Bolivia may be subject to considerable social and even political trauma,” he noted.