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.