Extremism

Plans for a department-wide strike, cialis threats of a refusal to pay taxes, and even whispers of an orchestrated golpe, sounds like the shenanigans of the COB (Central Obrero Boliviana), right? Guess again, but now the same tactics used by the far-extreme left are being used by the far-extreme right. The Comite Civico of Santa Cruz held one of their famed Assemblies of the Cruceñidad, where some of the richest men in Bolivia played a game of who can puff out their chests and come up with the best rhetoric.

These oligarchs are trying their damndest to play the same game that Roberto de la Cruz and Jaime Solares made famous. Distorting the words of the government and playing the populist in order to generate support for their interests. Right now, I imagine Zvonko Matkovic, a Yugoslavian immigrant hoping to divide Bolivia in the same manner of his former homeland, is wetting himself at the thought of an independent Santa Cruz, where he and his cronies create their own system of centralism.

Much of this sentiment has resurfaced after President Carlos Mesa appeared on the television interview program “El Hombre Visible”, where he was asked about the situation in Santa Cruz and Tarija, two areas dominated by these civic groups. Many, who didn´t even see the program acted on hearsay and speculations.

The government had to go the lenghts of placing an ad in the newspaper El Deber clarifying the exact quote:

Padre Pérez (interviewer): “Entiendo que tiene dos preocupaciones en este minuto: Santa Cruz y Tarija, parece que no los convence todavía, ¿qué pasa?”

Presidente: “Yo creo que la naturaleza del problema es distina entre Tarija y Santa Cruz, son dos departamentos con problemáticas diferentes. Para Santa Cruz el tema es una cuestión de esfera de poder. Santa Cruz es un departmento que tiene el liderazgo indiscutible del país. Y es un departamento que todavía no asume ese liderazgo nacional y sigue trabajando sobre la lógica de que hay reivindicaciones regionales que están por encima de su liderazgo nacional. Si Santa Cruz no resuelve ese problema no es una confrontación con el President sino es una definición sobre sí misma y sobre lo que Bolivia puede y debe esperar de Santa Cruz. Ahí creo que las elites cruceñas siguen entrampadas en una visión provinciana de las cosas, lo que no quiere decir que no entienda y admire profundamente el que Santa Cruz está donde esté porque no estaríamos hablando de Santa Cruz como lo estamos haciendo si ese departamento no hubiese generado en los últimos cuarenta años esta nueva dinámica creativa, positiva, constructiva…”

PP: Interrupts with other question

The day after the elite leaders and some random Cruceños interviewed on TV said that the President called the inhabitants of that department provincianos and that he doesn´t recognize that Santa Cruz is the most important economic region of Bolivia. Clearly from that quote, one can see that the President states and has stated in the past that Santa Cruz is very important to the country, and is supporting the country. In the same manner that La Paz and Potosi supported the rest of the country during various times in Bolivia´s history.

Just as the COB and COR, with their medidas de presion, dominate the headlines and seem to appear to speak for all of the Occident, these Civic Groups and elite business leaders also appear to speak for all of Santa Cruz. Unfortunately, the civic groups of Santa Cruz have mastered the art of propaganda, where many Cruceños have bought into the us vs. them mentality, when actuality the oligarchs really want their own centralist system where they are the sole benefactors. Pitting that region against the President, without placing any blame on the region´s Congressional representatives or prefects, works nicely within their plan of action.

These two extreme parts of the country are eerily similar in their rhetoric and their actions. Peharps Zvonko Matkovic and Jaime Solares should meet, they would make a good team.

Backlog

With only three days to go before I begrudgingly return to the United States, look it would be better for me to save all the posts floating in my head till I return. I have had a lot of good experiences here and met some interesting people. I have uploaded a ton of pictures, health but I would rather wait till I return to post them. I should aprovechar my time here, rather in front of the computer screen.

F9/11 in Bolivia

I do not think they translated Farhenheit 9/11 into Spanish, pharmacy even though in Latin America they use Celsius.

However, help this movie opened in Cochabamba last Friday. It has been out on bootleg DVDs long before. A friend of mine saw the film on opening night and saw MAS senator Filemon Escobar among the moviegoers. My friend reported that someone (not necessarily Filemon) became quite agitated and blurted out in the middle of the showing “Que mueran los gringos!” (a.k.a. die, yankees, die).

Hot Air in Bolivia

In Uyuni, there Bolivia will be host to a giant hot air balloon festival. This will be an excellent launching point to focus Bolivia´s tourism to this unique salt plain. Even LAB airlines will begin service to Uyuni.

However, store the hot air that I am most concerned about is coming from Santa Cruz, remedy where the so-called elite leaders are whining just for the sake of whining. A recent headline in the Santa Cruz daily read “La ‘media luna’ declara guerra a Mesa y veta ley de hidrocarburos” (The word “war” was actually used by Zvonko Matkovic, head of CAINCO).

President Carlos Mesa and Congress are locked in a heated debate over the new Hydrocarbons Law. Congress, with the exception of some Tarijeño Congressmembers, voted overwhelmingly for the law recommended by the Comisión Mixta de Desarrollo Económico chaired by a MAS member from Potosi. The law created by the Executive Branch of the government has been called more conservative, but will not push foreign investment away.

This law is a major part of Mesa´s plan to reactivate the economy. There are dozens of projects waiting to invest in Bolivia and its huge natural gas reserves. However, without a law, no investment can be made.

One of the major criticism of these so-called leaders, has been Mesa´s inability to focus on the economy. Mesa-this, Mesa-that, it always is easy to criticize the Executive Branch of Congress. However, Mesa´s law conforms more closely with the desires of those Departments that hold the bulk of the gas reserves. Yet, leaders of the Comite Civicos (self-proclaimed businessmen from the upper-class) never mention or criticize the Congressional representatives from their own backyards, that voted for the Committee proposal, that would, as critics say, scare away investment and push Bolivia farther into economic difficulties.

Most of the gas is located in Tarija, and in the area called El Chaco. There is a movement that is calling for a 10th Department to be created. They argue, that Tarija and Santa Cruz are too centralized and a lot of the revenues from the gas reserves will never reach the rural countryside. These areas are behind economically and in development. The money always falls into the hands of the elite and powerful. Sound familiar? Would Santa Cruz and Tarija support this region in becoming autonomous and become a separate Department? Sounds like hypocrisy to me.

These “leaders” have autonomy as their rallying cry and have claimed this topic as their own. Mesa has repeatedly said that he supports local autonomies and it something that it would benefit all of Bolivia (which is something that these “leaders” never consider), and not just this fictional “media luna”, an invention of these individuals hoping to divide Bolivia. Autonomy works only when it does not just create smaller centralized powers that mirrors what happens in La Paz. Centralism is a bad thing, but centralism in Departments does not correct this mistake.

Goni Wants to Stay

In a rare interview granted to the Miami Herald, cialis former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada reiterated that he does not believe he can receive a fair trial in Bolivia. The former President stated that he would prefer being tried by an outside independent judge, and mentioned Spanish judge Baltazar Garzón as a possibility.

However, Bolivia and the United States have a treaty which requires the extradition of the accused. Yet, Goni has been looking for ways to remain in the U.S.

Sánchez de Lozada has retained Steel, Hector and Davis LLP, a Miami law firm, to study his options, which include the possibility of requesting asylum in the United States. He said he was living in the United States on a F2 visa, given to spouses and dependents of students. His wife is enrolled in an English language program at Georgetown University.

I do not know the legal requirements for granting asylum, but just as long as radical extremists continue to say that once Goni sets foot on Bolivian soil, then he will be lynched, then the asylum plea due to the threats on his life, would seem more plausible.

Latest Poll – Cochabamba Mayor Race

Universidad Mayor de San Simón Political Science Institute:

Gonzalo Terceros (CU) – 22.7%
Gonzalo Lema (MAS) – 14.7%
None – 14.6%
Edwin Mallon (UCS) – 12%
Undecided – 11%
Jhonny Antezana (NFR) – 7%

Mallon is a well-known television personality, unhealthy who hosts his own show called “Golpes de la Vida.” This show exploits (in my opinion) poor people who come on air, where they cry, plead and otherwise publicly beg for financial or other material assistance. Often these rural campesinos come to the studio speaking only quechua and all receive a bag of rice as a consolation “prize.” Some people call in offering to pay their medical bills or a charitable doctor offers free medical treatment, but on the whole, there ought to be a better way of doing things.

Watch Out!

This scary sign is located about 300 meters from my parents´ house in the countryside (although becoming more urban everyday). We do not know who placed the sign, pilule but it serves as a warning for potential burglars. However, I am fascinated, yet bothered, by the depiction of the hanged man. Bolivia suffers from a phenomena of lynching as a real occurrence. That neighborhood is a mix of middle to upper class city dwellers and poor campesinos. It is a rather odd mix of neighbors who live in that area.

Added Translation: Attencion, this Neighborhood is Guarded and Armed. Suspicious Person, We Respond