Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera gave a beautiful, rousing call on August 21 for Bolivia to play its rightful role as a Promethean nation, and set about to master nuclear energy, so as to create the platform for his nation’s technological development over the next 400-500 years. Garcia Linera’s adamant statement that humanity can and must master atomic energy, as today’s form of “sacred fire,” was delivered in his speech closing the VII International Congress on Oil and Gas in Santa Cruz, Bolivia on August 21. A panel earlier in the day on nuclear energy, addressed by leading members of the Argentine nuclear program, had been a highpoint of the Congress, organized by the Bolivian Chamber of Hydrocarbons.
Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera said:
“The use of and training in atomic energy is one of our obligations as a society and as a State. We have made that decision, and we are going to guide ourselves based on that decision. In the coming years, we will implement a program of nuclear energy, for peaceful purposes, with medical and agricultural goals, as the case may be, but we will have an elite, a core of brains, integrated with the world, to networks who work in the atomic field, which will allow Bolivia to learn about and use this fire of the XXI century: atomic energy.”
“Nuclear energy is the fire of the XX and XXI centuries. It is the fire which our ancestors had 20,000 years ago, which allowed them to make philosophy, technical science, culture, agriculture. Knowledge of the atom, its regularities, its use, its functioning, is the touchstone of the XX and XXI centuries, the fundamental core of new knowledge and new technologies, new theories and new means of production….
“Bolivia cannot remain on the periphery, if this is the case, if knowledge of the atom … is the sacred fire of the XX and XXI centuries, as fire was for the pre-agricultural civilizations of 20,000 years ago. Today a society which is respected —and we respect ourselves— cannot remain on the periphery, and we are not going to remain on the periphery…
“Fire in itself is not the destroyer,” he said, and nuclear energy is not the destroyer. It can be “a creative productive force of life or a destructive force.”
“Nuclear energy exists independently of us. It functions in Nature, in the human body, in physical and chemical processes. The question, is if we have the ability, as society, to learn about it, to know it, to respect its force and to know how to use it collectively and humanly for beneficial purposes….
“Let us break the mental and colonial chains; break them! Let us dare to leave the cave, as our ancestors did 20,000 years ago. Let us dare to assume our responsibility before the world, before our history and our society. Knowledge of nuclear energy is knowledge of the ABC’s of nature….
“[Bolivia has] the technical, scientific and moral obligation to take responsibility for the knowledge, use, understanding and beneficial development of this fundamental force of Nature.
“It doesn’t matter how long it takes us. We are going to do it, because we are convinced that that is how we cement the conditions for the technological development of Bolivians for the next 400 to 500 years.”