Global Voices and Reuters UN Event

Global Voices Online, pilule the project that I am fortunate to be a part of, will be assisting with an online media event this afternoon at 4 pm EST. Ted Turner, the person I used to always associate with the Atlanta Braves and his “SuperStation” pledged 1 billion dollars to the institution over the course of decade. Turner will be interviewed live, which will be broadcast over the internet. The Global Voices team in New York will take questions from the IRC channel from viewers all over the world. Click here to see the webcast and learn a little more about the event.

tag: gv-un

Bolivia at the UN

President Evo Morales is scheduled to address the General Assembly this week in New York and he may be attracting quite a following. The two previous Bolivian presidents, Eduardo Rodriguez and Carlos Mesa both spoke in 2005 and 2004, respectively. The sea revindication issue was usually at the top of the list of topics for Mesa, where he said:

Finally, I would like to mention an issue that we continue to insist upon during our presentations in front of the world here in the heart of the international community – the fact that Bolivia is landlocked has been a factor that has halted our development.

Two years later and Bolivia is no closer to gaining soverign access to the sea. Many hope that the UN is the vehicle to acheive this feat, but no one is holding their breath.

Many more eyes will be on Evo as he makes his first address at the UN. One has to wonder whether he will come with prepared speech in hand or whether he will wing it. According to La Razon, the subject of his talk will be the rights of indigenous communities for self-determination.

One also has to wonder whether Evo, fresh off of his visit to Cuba and the Non-Aligned Countries conference, will rail against the United States and neoliberalism. However, there is also some hope that the pragmatic and conciliatory Evo will show up. The (forced?) resignation of the Minister of Hydrocarbons Andres Soliz Rada because he was a little too radical for the government’s tastes may show a little more realism by this adminstration. Already, Evo has met with former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and is an invited guest at the Clinton Global Initiative.

This upcoming speech is one of the most important of Evo’s tenure as President. Just today, the U.S. released a report criticizing Bolivia’s cooperation on the “War on Drugs”. Even though, as the CIP reports, that the amount of cocaine seized has increased, the control on erradication continues to be lacking. Will the world continue to be fascinated by this phenomenon or will a potentially aggressive address cause many more doubters?
tag: gv-un

Dí Buen Día a Papá

One of the most well-received Bolivian movies will be shown in the Washington, DC area at the Latin American Film Festival in Silver Spring, MD.

“Dí buen día a papá,” was the Bolivian government’s code for the assassination of Che Guevara. In the Bolivian village of Vallegrande, where Guevara was eventually murdered, the specter of the guerilla hangs over the lives of several generations of Bolivians, shaping mythology, dividing and uniting families until 1997, when his remains are exhumed.

The showtimes are:

Saturday, October 7 – 2:15 pm
Sunday, October 8 – 2:15 pm

In La Paz

I was sick to my stomach. A pounding headache confined me to bed most of the afternoon. The cause must have been some combination of the high altitude and what I had seen on TV. Usually Bolivian cable television offers up some pretty good programming without the excess of commercials. However, the images of the repercussions of the general strike in four of the eastern departments put me over the edge. The clashes were no longer citizens vs. police, but rather citizens vs. citizens. Live unedited images showed rock-throwing Bolivians launching projectiles without any idea where they would land. The problem was that you could not really distinguish who was the MAS supporter and who was the “autonomy” supporter. Meanwhile, on the streets of La Paz the effects of this shutdown was hardly felt. Hearing the chants on TV of the anti-government protesters and their racist language really served no purpose, while the claims of the government that the protests were orchestrated by PODEMOS was only half-true. People have been growing frustrated at some of the actions of the government, but are afraid of being lumped into the category of those powerful interests and those that do not want to see the landscape change. Some of the criticism are on target, while others are sweeping bouts of condescension. “My god, how could they let a former domestic worker become minister of justice?” in reference to Casimira Rodriguez’s new post. Later that afternoon in La Paz, I delivered an invitation from my place of employment to the Ministry of Justice. There I met a Vice-Minister, the Chief of Staff and other staff members, who were all very professional and had worked decades in other international organizations. It was obvious that she surrounded herself with top-notch staff, but also I noticed others who were given a chance to contribute. A very pleasant campesina was working as the elevator operator, and another sharply dressed young cholita was working in the main office as a receptionist. The tide has been changing, as thousands of young empleadas, such as the new helper at my aunt’s house now sees someone like them in positions of power and agents of change. However, the strike that took place last Friday was not the work of the “silent majority”, but rather groups that have an interest in seeing the government failed. Just as questions arise to who is paying for the lodging, transportation and food of the cocaleros that are vigilando the Constituent Assembly in Sucre, questions must arise as to who is paying the Union Juvenil Cruceñista to do their dirty work, such as threatening businesses that did not join the strike, much like their counterparts in El Alto that used pressure tactics against those who just wanted to work and live peacefully. So at 5 pm, I decided that I had enough. Off went the television and we went to one of the newest restaurants in La Paz, Brosso, which is trying to compete with Dumbo, employing the same copyright infringement. A huge lighted sign featuring the Bear in the Blue House from Disney overlooked El Prado. So I sat there eating our nachos and watermelon juice, trying to forget about the mess the country is currently in, knowing full well that I would be leaving early the next morning on my plane back to the United States.

Vacation

During my last “vacation”, it was hardly rest and relaxation.  I could not pass up an opportunity to witness and be a part of history.  A family friend invited me along the campaign, where I met a who’s who of Bolivian politicians, hearing and seeing things from the inside.  From sun-up to sun-down, if it wasn’t a radio interview, an unexpected trip to Evo’s house, or watching a live debate, the adrenaline of politics and campainging was something that I could grow to crave. I grew a bit more idealistic, but also planted my feet firmly on the floor because of some politics as usual. The December 2005 elections were a hopeful step forward for Bolivia, but now everyone’s optimism if wearing thin.  “I expected more,” are words that I hear from my friends who live in the Zona Sud of Cochabamba and enthusiastically voted for Evo nine months ago. The second day I arrived, I visited the site where the Brigada Parlimentaria de Cochabamba (Congressmen and women from Cochabamba from all parties) meets on off days of Congress. I had expressed an interest in meeting the new Bolivian ambassador to the U.S. because I am on the Board of Directors of an organization in Northern Virginia called Escuela Bolivia.  It would be great to strengthen our relationship with the Embassy, as we have had a strong relationship with every Ambassador regardless of political affiliation.  When I was introduced to another Congressmen who was good friends with the new ambassador, there was a little bit of suspectibility.  Who can blame them, as party members are still looking for espacios to be accomodated?  I certainly was not looking for a job in this administration, but I did not want to give them the wrong idea.  So this time around, I really made it my vacation. Sleeping in until 10 am, eating so many tasty dishes here in Cochabamba (where they say you can eat 6 times in one day), watching movies at the Cine Center and just hanging out with family and friends. A change from my time in Bolivia last December.