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Bolivian President and Nicaraguan Priest Slam Catholic Hierarchy, French Copters Not in Darfur

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, November 17 -- Bolivian president Evo Morales took questions from the Press on Monday, flanked by UN General Assembly president Father Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann. Inner City Press asked both men to respond to a comment to the Pope by a conservative Bolivian cardinal, Julio Terrazas, that Morales is not working "for all the people."

  Morales began by apologizing to "Father Brockman," saying that his history is as a union organizer. He said that while many in the Catholic Church support "my changes," the hierarchy does not. He said it was inappropriate for Terrazas to participate in referendum campaigns for the break-away of richer areas of Bolivia. He recounted an approach by the hierarchy, which told him a particular Church minister wanted to speak with him, alone. He called an attempt to bribe him, which he rejected. Video here, from Minute 38:15.

  Father Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, formerly the Sandinista foreign minister of Nicaragua in a government with other priests including Ernesto Cardinal, said that "the hierarchy is not the Catholic Church... the Church is the people." He said that "unfortunately there is not a single case in history in which the hierarchy has been in support of revolution for the dispossessed."  

  While the examples of Camilo Torres and others came to mind, d'Escoto concluded by saying he wouldn't be surprised if Jesus, if he came today, were excommunicated.  And then the two men left.

Bolivian President Evo Morales, Catholic hierarchy and bribes not shown

  Also in answering the church and state question, Morales said that in order to serve Bolivia, he has had to meet with terrorists, he has had to meet with genociders. In this latter category he has put his predecessor Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, whose extradition he has requested from the United States. The question of the wider genocide of indigenous people in the Americas and elsewhere did not come up on Monday.

Footnote: Moralez was about throwing the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency out of his country. He accused DEA of participating in the protests against him. Inner City Press asked him to confirm a statement by his minister of defense, Walker San Miguel, that Bolivia is asking for France's help in replacing the U.S.'s ostensibly anti-drug funding to Bolivia of $32 million a year. Most of that money, Morales said, goes back to the US. He confirmed talks with Brazil, Russia and France, saying these talks involved getting helicopters, perhaps with emergency loans. 

   If these countries have copters, why are none of them in Darfur?

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and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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