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October 17, 2023

Remarks by Chargé d'affaires, e.p. Debra Hevia Welcome Reception September 19

Good evening, and thank you all for joining us and thank you for this warm welcome. It’s wonderful to see familiar faces while making new friends tonight.

I would like to begin by recognizing our distinguished guests, including representatives of the municipal governments of La Paz and El Alto, the diplomatic corps, private sector and civil society partners, youth, and many other friends. Your presence tonight is greatly appreciated.

I’ve had the privilege of serving in this remarkable country twice before – from 1992 to 1994 and again from 2007 to 2009. During these assignments, I came to deeply appreciate Bolivia’s rich culture, its breathtaking landscapes, and, above all, the warmth of its people. Bolivia holds a special place in my heart, and I am truly honored I be here as Charge d’Affaires.

As I embark on this new role, I’d to share my vision for the years ahead. Along with our excellent Embassy team and with our Bolivian and international partners, I want to build on our longstanding cooperation to advance the shared interests of both the Bolivian and U.S. people. Together, we can address pressing issues such as supporting democracy and human rights; protecting indigenous and minority rights; advancing sustainable, inclusive economic development; combatting climate change; conserving biodiversity; and building the capacity of healthcare systems. These are priorities we both share, and by working together, we can make a difference.

Democracy is the foundation of our societies. Democracy is more than just holding elections regularly. It is rooted in individual freedoms, human rights, and the rule of law. Democracy thrives when it provides an environment in which all voices are heard, differences are respected, and progress is achieved through dialogue and cooperation. That dialogue isn’t always easy – we see this in the strong debates in the United States. However, as Secretary Blinken aptly noted, democracy should yield results that enhance people’s lives – their health, security, and standard of living. The Embassy supports democracy in Bolivia and seeks to promote our shared democratic values that help improve our societies.

I’m also dedicated to enhancing our economic collaboration. Last year, trade between Bolivia and the United States surpassed $1 billion. Our growing trade and investment relationships bring benefits to both Bolivians and Americans, supporting inclusive economic growth. U.S. imports from Bolivia help generate more job opportunities for Bolivians, and U.S. companies are keen to invest in Bolivia as well, bringing economic growth and creating jobs. We are also working hand-in-hand with local partners to support entrepreneurs and economically empower historically marginalized communities, including women, Afro-Bolivians, and indigenous populations, among others. Through programs that teach English, improve education, foster entrepreneurship, and build leadership skills and knowledge, our collaboration better prepares Bolivians to find success in the 21st-century economy.

Finally, in our interconnected world, global issues require that we work together. My aim is to broaden our collaboration with civil society organizations and community leaders in tackling challenges such as climate change, preserving biodiversity, mitigating natural disasters, and addressing global health crises. Our door remains open to cooperate with the Bolivian government on these issues of shared concern. To effectively navigate the challenges that confront our global community, we must engage at all levels – governments, civil society, multilateral institutions, and other stakeholders.

Thank you again for your ongoing cooperation and for being here tonight. I look forward to working with you all over the next three years to further strengthen U.S.-Bolivian ties and bring greater prosperity to both our peoples.

Thank you.