Foot in the Door Technique?

Last Thursday, the Bolivian Foreign Minister announced that Bolivia will no longer seek access to the sea through multi-lateral means. You may remember President Carlos Mesa’s obsession with bringing up the subject at every international forum, conference, and at the United Nations. Per the request of Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, which Mesa previously discounted, these discussions will take place on a bi-lateral basis. Bolivia took one step towards Chile, and now Mesa is counting on Lagos to reciprocate with the same.

Yalo Cuellar and La Chacarera

Not all Bolivian music is zampoñas and charangos. Some of my favorite Bolivian music comes from Southern Bolivia. Specifically from the Gran Chaco region, capsule Chacarera features fiddles and pounding bass drums. One of the best artists is Yalo Cuellar, decease born in Yacuiba.

Here are a couple of mp3s (right click and save).

Yalo Cuellar – Chacarera de Aldana

Yalo Cuellar – Muchacha de Risa Loca

Technically La Chacarera is not a Bolivian rhythm, rather something borrowed from our neighbors to the south, Argentina. However, it is now common place in Southern and Southeastern Bolivia.

Colombia Policy Blog

Read the Center of International Policy Colombia Program blog. After reading the aforementioned book about Colombia, I realized I knew next to nothing about that troubled country. Obviously there has to be something historical that we can learn from Colombia (from a Bolivian standpoint).

It is a very good blog that recently started in October. I first became aware of the Center of International Policy after hearing its President, former ambassador Robert White, speak at my alma mater.

Every so often, reports in Bolivian newspapers indicate that members of the FARC and/or ELN have infiltrated some of the social movements, in particular the cocaleros, providing financial and technical assistance.

I’m very interested in learning the connections between Colombian guerrillas and Bolivian groups. What has been the contact between Evo Morales and the FARC or ELN? Whether there are actual connections or invented links, is unknown. Thankfully violence in Bolivia has been infinitesimal in comparison to the tragedies in Colombia. But why is that? (not that I’m complaining). Surely greater poverty and higher incidents of corruption doesn’t reduce the possibility of these conflicts and violence.

Lema Quits City Council

In a unexpected turn of events, MAS candidate for the Cochabamba mayorship, Gonzalo Lema resigned his position and is formally leaving MAS.

After pledging to respect the top vote getter, he was criticized by MAS leader Evo Morales. Lema, as the 2nd place vote getter, legally could have sought the mayor chair. Then, he clarified that respecting and supporting Chaly Terceros (the top vote getter) is different than providing him with the sufficient votes to be mayor. As a result, Terceros made an alliance with UCS candidate Edwin Mallon. It is unclear what was exchanged in order for this alliance to happen.

Lema was formally censured by MAS in a meeting last Saturday. All of this left the famous national novelist very bitter.

“No puedo creer que sea algo utópico el contar con un Concejo libre de camarillas y en alianzas basadas en un mero interés político.”

Whether or not politics will be in Lema’s future is still unknown. It’s hard to say whether Lema received less votes because of his association with MAS or more votes because of that party affiliation. I am guessing that he received all the votes associated with MAS no matter who the candidate was, although I have heard many people from Cochabamba say that they like Lema, but would never vote for MAS.

Bolivian Wrestling Federation

Just like the popular Mexican wrestlers on Saturday afternoons, buy a group of men and women from El Alto have been making a living putting on a wrestling show. Some women have been performing for nearly twenty years and some challenge men.

The most popular wrestlers are the women, stomach dressed in the traditional cholita garb, complete with pollera and bowler hats. With not-so colorful names like Carmen Rosa and Julia la Paceña, these women are the main attraction for approximately 800 Alteños, who pay 5 Bs. admission (.60 cents USD).

Like in any great wrestling show, there always is a villian.

Los rudos asustan a los niños que se acercan demasiado. A veces, reparten cocachos o, como acostumbra el Comando Zabala —vestido con uniforme militar— echan agua que llevan en la boca.

Zabala es el más odiado y temido. Se dedica a insultar a los alteños: “Son la escoria de Bolivia”; “Pobres analfabetos que sólo saben quemar”. La gente le responde a gritos: “Sarna”, “inútil”.

This coming Sunday, a “Titans of the Ring” benefit wrestling match starring 30 men and women will collect funds for various children organizations in the city.

Photos:La Razon
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The pressure on Bolivia to sign a treaty with the United States granting immunity to American soldiers is not sitting well with Evo Morales:

“Aprobar (ese tratado por el que presiona Washington) es como decir que nosotros somos como animalitos, que nos matan nomás”, alegó Morales luego de advertir: “Si es necesario hay que incendiar el Congreso, aunque nos digan que estamos atentando contra la democracia”

It’s obvious that behind the scenes, American officials are trying to encourage Bolivian lawmakers to sign the treaty. Morales has even hinted that some lawmakers have accepted cash payments in exchange for their vote.

Clearly, it is in Bolivia’s soverign right to seek justice for any American soldier who has been found to commit human rights abuses in Bolivia. The United States, in theory, should not have anything to worry about if their soldiers are trained and trustworthy. However, if the Bolivian form of justice looks to find someone guilty before a trial, much less an investigation, then how can a Bolivian or another nationality expect to receive fair treatment (a’la Goni’s “Trial”).

Naturally, the American embassy denies that any foreign aid is dependent on the signing of this treaty. Perhaps, the Bolivian lawmakers should call their bluff.

Bolivia to Support Mexican Candidate

The spokesperson for President Carlos Mesa announced that Bolivia will support Mexico’s Luis Ernesto Derbez to head up the OAS.

Last week Chile officially solicited Bolivia’s support for its own candidate. However, Jose Galindo, Mesa’s spokesperson said, “for obvious historical reasons” that they cannot support the Chilean candidate.

The Bolivia-Chile sea issue has taken a backseat to the recent municipal elections and the pending Hydrocarbons Law. Neither side will budge on this issue, but in order for some progress to be made, one side will have to show a sign of good faith. It’s not known what was Chilean candidate Jose Miguel Insulza’s position was on the sea issue, but it appears that Bolivia did not want to take the risk of never having the issue be addressed at the OAS with a Chilean at the top post.

New Bolivian Movie

On a tip from Almada de Noche, another new blog from Cochabamba, it seems as if Bolivian movies are being released at a high rate. The new movie “Margaritas Negras” frustrated the writer from said blog. But can you blame him? Just watch the trailer and read the website’s synopsis:

Sintiéndose fracasado artística y humanamente, resuelve emprender una constante búsqueda que lo llevará por caminos inciertos en los que el mal juega un rol decisivo y se atraviesa en su relación con Mia, una mujer joven e impetuosa que tempranamente está en la misma búsqueda que Juan.

Enamorado y angustiado, Juan se apoya en el Gordo Mefisto, un supuesto mecenas y coleccionista de arte que lo envuelve en un juego manipulador y le encarga una obra que será la excusa perfecta sobre la cual Juan tomará su más drástica decisión.

Does that sound like a movie you would want to see?