This story about a Bolivian boy who stowed away on a truck to be found in Chikle is an example of how resourceful and determined a child can be. In a way, I think modern parents tend to underestimate what their own children are capable of doing, leading to worrying too much about exaggerated risks and being overprotective. That’s not to say this boy didn’t take on an irrational risk, because he didn’t really know better, but that’s just due to the ignorance of youth. I’m glad that this story has a happy ending, he and his mother are very lucky.
The 10-year-old clambered into a metal container beneath a transport truck thinking it would take him from Oruro in Bolivia’s Andean highlands to the city of Cochabamba, where his mother was jailed for three and a half years for transporting chemicals to make cocaine.
You think you’d have a better plan than to completely end subsidies cold-turkey like this. Maybe a plan to gradually remove them over a year or two so that markets can adjust and that the new revenues can be put to work visibly. Instead, you get protests, rioting, and people stockpiling basic necessities.
Protests surged as gasoline prices soared by as much as 73 percent and diesel by 83 percent. The cost of food and transportation also reportedly increased.
I sincerely hope that both parties are negotiating in good faith and trying to prevent further violence and bloodshed. But that’s me, I’m a bit of an optimist that way. When Morales says he will get his constitution approved “Por las buenos, o las malas”, essentially translated as “By any means necessary”, its difficult to believe that the opposition would come to the table and make many concessions.
Here’s the thing, I agree that most, if not nearly all, Bolivians of European backgrounds hold very disturbing and racists views towards indigenous people. Views of the sort like “They’re not educated, we have to run the country as a result, they don’t need to be educated, we’ll keep running it” It’s a vicious cycle. From what I could see, most institutions we’re setup in parallel, one for the haves and one for the have nots, separate but definitely not equal. From elementaty schools, to universities, hospitals, to even careers.
Its no wonder there is so much resentment and distrust, particularly of any instrument, philoshopy, that is non-native, Western, or “Neo-liberal”. But in rejecting these, MAS and the indigenous movements have turned around and commited the very same or worse in retaliation, and reinforcing the stereotypes about them. Ii is also distrubting to see what they are putting into the new Constituion.
Things continue to deteriorate in Boliva. First, Evo’s government expels the U.S. ambassador – but at the same time sent a letter to Dept. of State indicating that Bolivia wants to “maintain bilateral relations.” Me thinks someone should explain to him what expelling an ambassador indicates. The eastern provinces are in basically full rebellion against the central governnment.
Both sides have all the rhetoric, but at the heart of this dispute is who controls one of South America’s largest natural gas reserves and the revenues that it generates. The US embassy has suggested citizens should leave if possible. There are symbolic, at this points, discussions going on but what they can achieve remains unclear.
Bolivia’s leftist president, Evo Morales, arrived at the hastily called summit having effectively lost control of half of his country. Anti-Morales protesters have blocked highways, taken over national government offices, closed border crossings and sabotaged pipelines, briefly forcing a cutoff of nearly half of Bolivia’s natural gas exports to Brazil.
Heading into 2008, Bolivia is fundamentally polarized such that no resolution seems possible. Granted, it has been like this for almost four years now, but with both sides unwillingly to concede or even talk, you have to wonder how much longer lines on a map will continue to hold it together. The LA times summarizes the situation saying Bolivia’s Morales faces divided nation.
Many Bolivians openly despair of a meaningful national dialogue, something everyone from the president to his bitterest enemies professes to support. Factions have dug into their positions, blunting the opportunity for compromise.
Bolivia’s Constituent Assembly, charged with rewriting the country’s constitution by December 14th, has suspended its work indefinitely. Campesinos and other indigenous groups plan to march through the streets of Sucre peacefully to advocate national unity. But what’s does national unity mean when the MAS party, the party of the president, changes the assembly rules, so that they can unilaterally vote on changes and amendments.
The always insightful MABB Blog, has been keeping an eye on the rising tensions in Sucre, and documents the actions of the MAS in the Constituent Assembly.
It seems as though, MAS, in addition to having angered the Sucre citizens by arbitrarily removing the motion to debate the move of the seat of government, are getting ready to go ahead an approve their proposed constitution using their majority votes. An action which is widely repudiated, not only by the opposition, but also by the citizens of Sucre.
And, to add what comes across to me as a little paranoia, the President threatens to take action against "foreign diplomats who become involved in Bolivian politics," accusing the USA of funding the opposition. Its not foreign meddling when Castro or Chavez do it? It’s naive to call out the US, but par for the course. I think its mostly rhetoric for his supporters, something like a wedge issue to keep the us-vs-them mentality and deepen divisions in the country.
He added that while his government would be patient with foreign governments, "at any time we will make radical decisions against those ambassadors who are always provoking us."
The tension is so bad that a brawl broke out:
Is there a solution? Will the country look to a military coup to impose order, or is there still hope for coming to a consensus everyone can live with?
It’s been one year since Evo Morales became Bolivia’s president. While the goals of his administration – refounding the country on a more equitable foundation – are hard to argue with, his methods and results are disastrous. He’s used demagougery and stirred up his supporters to cause civil unrest and blockades around the country in the hopes that his party, MAS, will get its way. All this culminated in bloody confrontations in Cochabamba, between MAS and its opponents, that left 2 people dead and over 100 injured. Today, the country is more polarized, violent, and divided than at the beginning of 2006, with little hope for reconciliation.
In one year, Bolivia has seen protests, violence and an increasing tension between Morales’ supporters and opponents. The country is polarized and the threat of a major clash between east and the west, "the rich" and "the poor", is growing. Both sides are becoming more and more radical and less inclined to listen to the other one. A recent push for autonomy in some regions, precisely the ones holding most of Bolivia’s natural resources and exporting agricultural businesses, caused major turmoil in Cochabamba last week.
As usual, MABB has an informative analysis of the situation in Bolivia, where 4 of the 9 departments have elected to reject the new constitution if the Constituent Assembly revokes the 2/3 majority rule. Governments and opposition forces have had some violent confrontations, resulting in almost 70 people wounded during one altercation.
In Santa Cruz city, groups of opposition supporters have burned
offices, roughed-up government supporters. At the same time, groups of
government supporters have also attacked their counterparts. In Sucre,
while a group of church supporters gathered to pray and government
supporters handed out leaflets against the Archbishop of Sucre,
tensions broke down into violent acts.
Your semi-regular Bolivia update. The governors from six of the nine departments (states) have cut all communications with the federal government. The six represent the economically strongest regions of the country. MAS, Morales political party, amended the rules of the Constituent Assembly to require a simple majority, instead of 2/3 majority, to amend the Constitution. Also last week, the House of Representatives approved a land reform bill.
Morales angered the region’s leaders by advocating putting the
governors under congressional oversight and giving himself the power to
fire them if they do not operate transparently or honestly.
On a more "huh?" note, Bill Gates wants to meet Morales, its a PR opportunity related to the Quechua localized build of Windows that I wrote about at the end of August. If Bill goes to Bolivia, I hope his tour includes a stop at the Mercado Negro, where he can see what price market forces have set for his OS and Applications.
In the letter, Gates offered Microsoft’s help "in the goal of providing
all of Bolivia’s people access" to the Internet and modern technology,
La Razon reported.
The excellent MABB tells us that Things are Getting Ugly in Bolivia. My native country is in the midst of rewriting the Consitution and it is turning into a divisive process.
The main message is that the Constitutional Assembly is in serious
crisis. There are calls from the separatists in Santa Cruz (la nacion
camba) to form a regional assembly. The people in the Andes, are so
worried that they decided to go to Sucre to make sure the assembly
continues its work. They have threatened the assembly members with
community justice if they don’t do what the "people" want. The assembly
itself is having trouble meeting and doing its work.
Meanwhile, the government is violating civil liberties and dur process as it cracks down on opponents and high ranking figures from previous governments.
To date, the Morales team has announced
plans to prosecute some 150 people who held high-level jobs in previous
governments including five ex-presidents for crimes ranging from
"genocide" to "espionage" and "destruction or deterioration of state
Yet the government has provided scant evidence to back the
accusations, relying instead on news conferences and public harangues.
In the Nogales case, an ambiguous video of people removing stacks of
money from a bank vault was leaked to TV networks in June and broadcast