A dialogue with Amanda Dávila, Bolivia’s Minister of Communication
The G77+China Summit (‘A New World Order for Living Well’), which took place in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, the 14th and 15th of June of this year, marking the 50th anniversary of the creation of the institution, stood out for its return to its origins – to the period of decolonization in Africa and Asia – with its emphasis on sovereignty, on challenging the development model that has dominated in recent decades and the notion of “Living Well” as a paradigm of the goals for the time to come. The presidency of Bolivia during 2014 contributed substantially to this orientation and to the political decision to reaffirm its capacity of influence as the largest contingent of countries in the United Nations (UN). The level of participation was also outstanding: of the 133 countries that make up the G77 today, 104 sent delegations to Santa Cruz (a record), including 17 heads of state or of government.
In order to review the Bolivian government’s assessment of the Summit and the immediate perspectives of G77+China, a number of media that take part in the Communication Forum for the Integration of “Our America” (1) engaged in a dialogue with Amanda Dávila, Minister of Communication of the Plurinational State of Bolivia (2).
Dávila believes, among other things, that the Santa Cruz Summit constituted an extremely important event for Latin America and the Caribbean because it “has established the principal bases of the post-2015 agenda that this group, the most important group in the UN, will develop in the future.” An agenda into which political content and critical reflection have been introduced. “Above all it established the principle according to which we must engage in a struggle for our sovereignty, for our development… but also denouncing the economic system that has been dominant to date, which functions in a studied ignorance of our cultural practice and the identities of our peoples”, she said, considering as a “historic milestone” the introduction of this liberating vision in the conclusions of the Summit and the option for a different model of development.
With this “re-launching” of the G77+China, she noted, there is a new awareness of the potential strength of the group to impact decisions in the UN as well as other scenarios, and of the need to “unite more” in order to concretize this ability to act. It is also with a view to reinforcing the capacity for negotiation that Bolivia has extended an invitation to Russia and other countries to join the Group. Even as she expressed awareness of the fact that this is a heterogeneous alliance, with diverse levels of development and degrees of poverty, and with different ideologies, the Minister thinks that what unites these countries is the goal to move forward as the major group of countries in the world. “It is not possible that a few countries in the so-called first world, the ‘more developed’ countries, have such power over the decisions of the majority of countries,” she commented.
“The G77, under the presidency of Evo Morales, shows that it can become a group that not only speaks to the theme of economic development, but also maintains a political position” in the face of aggression and risks posed by transnational corporations, external debt, and the banks”, she noted. In this way the Summit proposed a restructuring of the financial system, that at the present time is having a serious impact on the development of member countries.
As an example, the case of Argentina was singled out, as the country faces a crisis with the so-called “vulture funds”, after the US Supreme Court refused to reconsider the sentence that ordered the full payment of bonds of the external debt, even though these had been purchased for a minimal percentage of their face-value. Article 128 of the Santa Cruz Declaration denounces the actions of these funds that threaten the possibility of restructuring debts, both of developed and developing countries. Faced with this situation, on June 25th, the G77+China held an urgent meeting to consider the Argentinian request on this question. “The G77 will not allow vulture funds to paralyse the restructuring of debts in developing countries, nor to deprive States of their right to protect their people in conformity with international law”, the Minister maintained. “President Evo Morales is ready to go to any tribunal, as President of the G77+China. With the authority that they have given him and with the Declaration of Santa Cruz, to defend Argentina, to rescue Argentina from this risky situation. We are disposed to work actively, not only with words, with respect to the various problems that arise, negotiating together, pushing for reforms, looking to modify the state of affairs. Argentina constitutes an example of how this expression of good will and political decision manifests itself”, she added.
Another resolution of the Summit is the proposal to call for a reform of the Security Council of the UN. “The United Nations and its mechanisms cannot be at the service of policies destined to confront the countries of the world. The UN cannot back war among countries, interventions dedicated to the appropriation of strategic natural resources, as is happening today,” Dávila said. But the stakes are higher, since what is sought is to democratize the UN itself, in all its decision-making spheres: “The Santa Cruz Declaration clearly affirms that all countries should be eligible, with the same prerogatives.”
With respect to the specific contribution of Bolivia and of President Evo Morales to the process that allowed for the formulation of the agreements of the Summit, which were negotiated over several months in New York, Amanda Dávila recognized the contributions of all countries, but singled out that there is no doubt that the Declaration has adopted the spirit of the Bolivian model. This model, she recalls, has allowed for a new foundation of the country on the basis of “support for equality, of the rights of peoples to be recognized, to be part of important decisions, of the right of citizens to a dignified life, to be considered as citizens.” It is also based on the recuperation of natural resources, the nationalization of strategic resources and the redistribution of wealth.
But even more important – she added – is that this is related to the culture of indigenous peoples, their political engagement and vision: the vision of a greater solidarity in the world, where the power of capital does not have such force. Hence the slogan of the Summit: “Towards a New World Order for Living Well.” As an example, she cited the struggle in Bolivia against drug-trafficking, which has reduced coca cultivation by 23%, through dialogue and consensus, without violence and without the presence of the US DEA. “This is Living Well”, she noted, adding that “to Live Well is not limited to the theme of resources”, but has to do with the way “that decisions and measures are adopted; with the importance for our government of the participation of social organizations and of indigenous peoples in policy development.”
Towards enhanced cooperation in communications
Representatives of the media outlets that took part in the interview voiced some concern with respect to the media and information voids, and queried about possible communicational strategies for giving visibility to key issues such as world peace or the struggle against the power of financial capital.
Amanda Dávila recognized that one of the concerns of the Summit, to which various presidents had alluded, is the power of certain media “that represent purely commercial and political interests that come together to prevent the economic and political liberation of the peoples of the South.” Nevertheless, the Minister of Communication recognized that, even though certain mechanisms do exist, there are still important gaps in the area of practice for confronting this situation. We need greater political decision”, she stated. The presidents’ discourse “still fails to generate a new doctrine of communication that the countries of the South need to adopt.” As an example, she referred to the meeting of the G77 on Argentina and the vulture funds, where Telesur was one of the few media covering it. Although in Bolivia the signal of Telesur was in fact retransmitted, the Minister considers that the coverage should have been coordinated, “at least in Latin America, since this is a question of a sister country that was in a situation of total risk, of an injustice of an extreme sort.” Because of this she believes that “we must come together among our state news agencies, and our public television channels” in order to have “an immediate media response in terms of political action.” With respect to this, she concluded that “we have to consider a new world order of communication. We have alternative media, we have indigenous peoples’ radio programmes, we have television channels in various countries that provide a distinct vision of events.”
The Tarija meeting
One of the upcoming activities of the G77, at the request of various delegations present at the Summit who expressed interest in the Bolivian experience and that of other countries of the region on the question of regaining control of natural resources, will be a meeting of Ministers of Hydrocarbons and Energy of the G77+China, on the Governance of Natural Resources and Industrialization, which will take place from August 24th to 26th in Tarija, Bolivia. As President Evo Morales has indicated, this will be preceded by an international seminar with the participation of several allied countries, where a proposal from Latin America and the Caribbean will be drawn up to present to other continents.
“The ministers will hear experiences concerning the recovery of natural resources, the development of independent projects with the support of State enterprises, as well as projects in which the private sector participates”, said the Minister of Communication. The meeting will examine the record in order to determine which are the better models, the positive experiences, and how these resources have served for the redistribution of wealth. The question of how to establish our own models will also be considered, she concluded.
Translated by Jordan Bishop for ALAI. Republished from ALAINET
 ALAI, ALER, Pressenza-IPA, Nodal y CEPRA-Bolivia took part in the interview. The interview was broadcast live though the channels of ALER and CEPRA. The complete audio can be heard (in Spanish) or downloaded at: http://aler.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=7617:en-vivo-balance-de-la-cumbre-del-g77&lang=es and can be reproduced in full or in part, quoting the source.