LA PAZ – Bolivia’s army, which celebrated its bicentennial over the weekend, declared itself “socialist, anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist,” as President Evo Morales had asked it to do several times.
The constitution adopted in 2009 “clears the way for the army to develop as a socialist, communal institution,” army chief Gen. Antonio Cueto said.
“We declare ourselves to be anti-imperialist, because in Bolivia no external power should ever impose its will on us...we must act with sovereignty and live in dignity. We also declare ourselves anti-capitalist because that system is destroying mother earth,” Cueto said in a ceremony on Sunday.
The army observes 1810 as the year of its founding, the year when the wars of independence against the Spanish crown began on what is now Bolivian territory.
Cueto criticized Bolivia’s “neoliberal governments” that “made pacts with the capitalist system, seeking the destruction of the nation’s armed forces with plans that progressively diminished its operational capability.”
The Bolivian state “is pacifist,” but it also reserves “the legitimate right to defend” its territory, Cueto said, adding that the military “will not allow under any circumstances the installation of foreign bases” on its territory.
Morales asked the army to be “prepared” to defend Bolivia’s sovereignty in the event that “some empire” attempt a military intervention in the country, as it did 200 years ago to “combat Spanish domination.”
“History shows that the army was born as an anti-imperialist force because it fought the European empire from the year 1810,” Morales said, adding that the “military nationalism” of the armed forces was neither “imported nor imposed,” but was born of the 1932-1935 Chaco War against Paraguay.
Morales reappeared in public Sunday using crutches after a week recovering in a private clinic in the central city of Cochabamba, where he had his left knee operated.
Sunday’s ceremony was attended by the commanders of the armies de Chile, Juan Miguel Fuente-Alba, and of Ecuador, Patricio Caceres, as well as military delegations from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru. EFE