SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia – Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez guaranteed on Wednesday to Bolivian President Evo Morales Madrid’s continued cooperation to help provide potable water and sanitation to many parts of the South American country because – he said – he agreed with his host that “water is life.”
Sanchez and Morales, who held their first meeting on Tuesday in Santa Cruz, on Wednesday shared a working breakfast and later headed to the Ibero-American training center at the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).
There, they presided at the presentation of the Water and Sanitation Fund program, one of Spain’s main contributions in its cooperation with Bolivia to fight poverty and facilitate development in the landlocked nation.
The effort has required almost 95 million euros ($111 million) and has provided access to water and sanitation to more than 426,000 people in rural and isolated parts of Bolivia.
Sanchez, in his speech at the AECID, emphasized the importance for Spain’s maintaining its cooperation to have a signed agreement with Morales to identify the priority areas for action through 2021.
The Spanish premier acknowledged the “courage” of the Bolivian leader in recognizing in his country’s 2009 Constitution access to water as a fundamental right and reiterated that he will continue to work with Bolivia along those lines.
“Be assured that the Spanish government will continue working with the Bolivian (government) and with the rest of the international community to lay solid foundations of sustainable and lasting modernization and development.”
In addition, he cited several projects that have been undertaken by the water fund as proof of the efficacy of this cooperation.
Morales thanked Sanchez for Spain’s help in general and in this area in particular and emphasized the way in which the lives of many people who now have access to potable water have changed.
“Water is life, and water plus land means secure food,” the Bolivian leader emphasized, also mentioning former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero for having been the one who launched Madrid’s cooperation to facilitate access to water in his country.
In addition, he emphasized that Spain and Bolivia’s cooperation had at all times been “unconditional,” in contrast to the attitude of other countries that he said had called for some kind of privatization in exchange for their aid.
The inauguration of the Water and Sanitation Fund program was one of the final things on Sanchez’s agenda on his visit to Bolivia, where he met privately with Morales and attended an official dinner.
The Spanish premier will depart Bolivia on Wednesday afternoon for Bogota, continuing his Latin American tour which will conclude on Friday in San Jose, Costa Rica.