Hopefully it won’t get worse before it gets better. I’ll give my dad and aunt another call this weekend to get their perspective on the situation.
Sanchez de Lozada, a 73-year-old U.S.-educated businessman and one of the wealthiest people in the country, is disliked by millions of Bolivians who see him as a "gringo" out of touch with the needs of South America’s poorest country.
A U.S.-led effort to eradicate coca, the raw material for cocaine, and an unpopular plan to export natural gas sparked the unrest in the landlocked nation of 8 million mainly indigenous people.
Bolivia Gov’t Coalition Falls Apart, Protests Rage
Marches and protests continue in La Paz and look to be spreading to other cities in Bolivia.
Elsewhere in the capital, long lines formed outside grocery stores over worries of food shortages as demonstrators continued to block roads, choking off the city from the rest of the country.
We talked to my Dad and Aunt this evening. The situation is very tense. They haven’t left my aunt’s house since at least yesterday. He’s supposed to return on Monday but flights out of La Paz are still suspended.
Looks like my dad picked a bad time to visit the motherland:
Thousands took to the streets in the capital, chanting anti-government slogans and demanding the president resign despite his announcement Monday that he will shelve controversial plans for natural gas exports.
The plans to sell gas to the United States and Mexico had already provoked massive protests in recent days in which at least 16 people have been killed.
It’s sad to think that people are protesting to stop natural gas exports, which are estimated would have brought in $1.5 BILLION dollars a year to our country. However, the union leaders are probably right in that the benefits would not reach them. Instead, the income would finds its way into the pockets of the Bolivian upperclass businessmen and foreign companies that would oversee the project.
A good summary of the situation is here at oneworld.net
One year ago, I was tooling around Paris.
In 1967, Latin American guerrilla leader Che Guevara was executed while attempting to incite revolution in Bolivia.
Interesting article forwarded to me by my cousin from the WSJ on Coca Eradication failing in Bolivia. Unfortunately you need a subscription to view it online but you can get a lot of info from Google News too.
And from Erythroxylum: The Coca Plant
The Andean culture and the coca plant have thrived for centuries. It is ironic that this same plant that is used as a cure in its homeland is the source for so much abuse and misunderstanding in other parts of the world.