By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Editors Lee Kap-soo, Joy Cho, Kim Young-myung
Newly elected President Luis Arce of the Plurinational Sate of Bolivia is expected to invite President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea (south) to visit his country at an early date, or President Arce himself might visit Korea at an opportune time.
This was disclosed at a recent interview with Charge d’Affaires (CDA) Luis Pablo Ossio Bustillos of Bolivia in Seoul which was conducted at the Embassy of Bolivia in Seoul by The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications for the past since 1985.
Specifically, CDA Ossio Bustillos said, “If the COVID-19 situation subsides, new President Luis Arce will either visit South Korea or invite President Moon Jae-in to Bolivia.” President Arce was sworn in by President David Choquehuanca of Bolivia's Legislative Assembly on Nov. 8, 2020.
Asked about the new President of Bolivia, CDA Ossio Bustillos said, “He studied economics in Bolivia and went to the United Kingdom and then, later, he taught economics at a university in Bolivia as a professor.”
As economy minister, according to CDA Ossio Bustillos, he promoted nationalizing strategic sectors such as hydrocarbons and energy, and pushed domestic production with public investments and subsidies, which helped Bolivia grow at one of the fastest rates in Latin America.
In fact, CDA Ossio Bustillos has a good measure of personal relationship with the new Head of Government of Bolivia.
He said: “I had the honor of meeting President Luis Arce Catacora in 1996-1997 at the University of Warwick in Coventry England. He was doing his master's degree in economics and I was doing my master's degree in international relations at the same university.
“I remember that President Arce was an outstanding student at the university and many colleagues asked me if I knew the brilliant Bolivian student; he is an authentic academic, humble and very human. “I remember his conversations about the ideology of socialism and class inequality, as well as his passion was basketball and I understand that to this day he continues to be.
“As he said in an interview one of the things he likes most is to share with his students and give lectures that he continues to do from his office.
“The Wall Street Journal calls him the "architect of the Bolivian economic miracle.”
In an interview with the press, President Arce said that since he was a child he had been an admirer of leftist leaders, so his three children bear the names of great leaders with socialist ideology who admire Salvador Allende and Che Guevara defines himself as a self-taught man. His eldest son is named Rafael Ernesto in honor of Ernesto Che Guevara, the second is named Luis Marcelo in honor of a Bolivian leader Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz and his daughter is named Camila in honor of Camilo (Cuban revolutionary, Cienfuegos).
Noting that Korea has offered an official development assistance worth $10 million to Bolivia every year under the five-year assistance program, CDA Ossio Bustillos stated: “The program is to be expired at the end of this year. Now, we are preparing for another five-year development assistance program.”
He said that South Korea is well known for its advanced digital and semiconductor technologies in Bolivia.
“Related to this,” said CDA Ossio Bustillos, “Bolivia hopes for Korean companies to invest in Santa Cruz City, which has geographical merits as it takes only two hours to reach San Paulo and Santiago.” Then he said, “We need to build an artificial channel linking Bolivia and the Atlantic Ocean.”
CDA Ossio Bustillos said that Bolivia invites Korean companies, including small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), to invest in the Bolivia’s PPP (public-private project) program.
He said: “For instance, Bolivia contracted that Samsung Electronics built a plant in the middle of CHAPARE (Valle) for about $1 billion. However, the plant is not working now owing to some access problems. POSCO also mapped out an investment plan in Bolivia, but decided to get out of Bolivia due to some problem over the move of indigenous community.”
CDA Ossio Bustillos said that Bolivia is located in the heart of South America with 11 million inhabitants. It is embraced by the Andes Mountains which has in its midst volcanoes, deserts, lakes, forests and its eternal snowed mountain.
Due to its geographical contrasts, Bolivia has diverse climates. In the Altiplano it is cold and dry, in the valleys the climate is warm, and in the tropics it is hot and humid.
Bolivia is a country that is multi-ethnic, and pluri-cultural; hence it is rich in traditions and customs, and it has a great quantity of natural resources.
Among the most famous touristic places in Bolivia are the Uyuni Salt Flat where the earth and sky meet. It is a natural wonder and one of the most surreal places in the world. In the rainy season, with a few centimeters of water on its surface, it becomes the largest mirror on the Earth as was described by Neil Armstrong when he saw our planet from the Moon.
Bolivia also boasts of Laguna Colorada (Red Lagoon), a place for dreaming. In the middle of the Altiplano, where the wind blows throwing sand upwards towards the top of the mountains, where vicuñas and guanacos play, people can find themselves with an unusually beautiful landscape. Laguna Colorada has the most surprising and spectacular color that one may find in the planet due to its orange, red, and sunflower colors which turns it into something extraordinarily beautiful.
Bolivia, located in the heart of the Central South American Continent, is a country for abundant natural resources and is one of the best potential win-win partner countries in the world for Korea for many reasons.
For one thing, Korea is a country short of natural resources while Bolivia is one of the best-known natural resources-rich countries in the world.
More importantly, Bolivia has five times the land size of the Korean peninsula, which means that Bolivia is more than 10 times the land size of the Republic of Korea (south).
The temperature differs depending on the different regions of the country and so do the humidity due to the location of the country and the height of the land. Bolivia has both high lands and low lands where the degree of humidity and temperatures range differently. The Lake Titicaca is situated on the world’s tallest highland and in the southern region of Bolivia is the famous ‘ Uyuni Salt Desert’ which was made when a part of the Andes Mountains, which had been a part of the sea in the past, made an upheaval.
They are a part of invaluable tourist asset of Bolivia. (For further details on the tourist attractions of Bolivia, see article on the Spouse of the Head of Mission of Bolivia, which follows immediate after this report.)
According to records, Bolivia is a natural sources-rich country in the world possessing a plenty of natural gas and mineral resources.
Recently, Bolivia was discovered to possess the world’s largest reserves of Lithium which is an invaluable natural resources material for the batteries of electric motor vehicles.
For all energy developers in Korea and in all parts of the world, Bolivia looms larger and larger as a resources-rich country in the world—especially for the next-generation motor vehicle producers in Korea and in all other parts of the world.
In Korea, Hyundai and Renault-Samsung motor companies are making extensive efforts to drastically increase the battery-driven cars.
Korea and Bolivia established diplomatic relations in 1965 and the two countries have been developing and increasing bilateral relations in all fields, including bilateral friendship agreements.
Korea re-started her ambassadorial activities in Bolivia on Sept. 16, 2008, which were momentarily suspended in 1998 due to the global financial crisis of IMF in 1998.
In 2010, President Juan Evo Morales Ayma of Bolivia visited Korea and re-opened the Bolivian Embassy in Seoul in 2014.
Recently, the Uyuni Desert has been put on the list of tourist attractions of the world in Korea for the overseas travelers and caused the number of Koreans wanting to visit there to a new height. This has begun to considerably broaden the scope and range of interchanges between Korea and Bolivia in various fields.
Newly elected President Luis Alberto Arce Catacora of Bolivia:
Luis Alberto Arce Catacora, the new president of Bolivia, born in the city of La Paz, is an economist, general accountant, professor in the Bolivian University. On January 23rd, 2006, the then President of Bolivia, Evo Morales Ayma, appointed him as Minister of Finance. In 2009, he took over from the Minister of Economy and Public Finance and served as Minister on two occasions.
His father Carlos Arce Gonzales was a teacher and his mother is Olga Catacora also a teacher. He has three children, he considers himself a methodical person, likes basketball, playing the guitar and charango. He studied in La Paz, graduating as a general accountant in 1984.
In 1986, Arce entered the Faculty of Economics and Financial Sciences at the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA), graduating as an economist by profession in 1991. Between 1996 and 1997 he obtained a Master's degree in Economics from the University of Warwick in the British city of Coventry. His working life began in 1987 when he joined the Central Bank of Bolivia (BCB), where he spent most of his professional career.
He has also given numerous lectures at different universities in Europe, North America and Latin America, including Columbia University in New York, Georgetown University, Harvard University, University of Pittsburgh, and many others.
Some international media, such as The Wall Street Journal, consider President Arce as the "architect of Bolivia's economic resurgence". In 2011, América Economía magazine ranked him tenth among all the region's economy ministers, in 2012 he rose to number eight, and in 2013 he remained among the top eight in the Latin American continent. Luis Arce, when he was sworn in with his hand on his heart, promised a government for all Bolivian equally, promoting peace and unity.