September 27, 2004


MABB is a registered TM.

To all the nice readers who visit this blog :-)

For the next two weeks I will not be posting due to me taking some color under the beautiful Costa del Sol sun. That means very little contact with computers and little time to surf. However, I will be checking my email, whenever I find an Internet cafe.

So, until next month!

I promise to post some pictures after I return!

September 23, 2004

About President Mesa.

MABB is a registered TM.

Mr. Carlos D. Mesa Gisbert has been gradually gaining my respect, not only through his actions, but also through his words.

I can hardly remember a more eloquent, academic looking, well versed in history and most impressive Bolivian president since I have use of my brain.

The picture I had of Mr. Mesa was of an out of touch news anchor who instead of giving the news, would give his opinion. One historian more, among the many in Bolivia who wrote about Bolivia's historic events and the ancient cultures that used to live before it. An average journalist who would have an air of intellectuality out of sinc with his real job, which was to give the news and not his opinions.

However, since he has become president of Bolivia, he has gradually been gaining my respect, not only as president, but as professional, historian and academic.

The latest piece of video which increased my respect towards him was his speech before the UN's General Assembly. But, if you want to experience the real thing, you have to listen to the Spanish version.

But, hold on a minute. Before you confuse me with a Mesa fan, I have to say, I am not one. I am still doubtful of his ability to finish the job. However, he is doing a good job, one has to give him credit.

September 21, 2004

Natural Gas as Engine for Development

MABB is a registered TM.

How important is Natural Gas for Bolivia?

Bolivia is betting all on its reserves of natural gas. The current president and his administration are placing all their hopes, energy and action on Bolivia's gas reserves. President Mesa has indicated he wants to use the gas reserves as a motor for industrialization and economic development, as well as a diplomatic tool to bring Chile to the negotiating table to talk about sea access for Bolivia.

President Mesa drafted the bill on the hills of the July 18th referendum when Bolivians chose to back Mesa's policies. With a renewed mandate, Mesa pretends to use Bolivia's natural gas reserves to carry out his energy and foreign policy. The new bill seeks to fulfill all of the decisions made by Bolivians who voted on the five questions of the referendum.

Among other things, the bill calls for the recreation of the national energy company YPFB and for the creation of a new company, Petrobolivia. Both of these companies will represent the Bolivian state in all aspects relating to the natural resources. An additional aspect of the law is the use of natural gas reserves as an industrialization and development engine to push Bolivia out of poverty.

But, is Bolivia expecting too much from its gas resources? Can the government rely on Bolivia's gas to take the country out of poverty?

The Energy Information Administration (EIA), an agency under the umbrella of the US Department of Energy, and a source of data and research on energy in the world, has released its 2004 International Energy Outlook report. We take a look at this report and other sources and make some conclusions about what Bolivia can reasonably expect from its production and commercialization of their natural gas.

World reserves
According to the IEO2004 report, as of January 1, 2004, proved world natural gas reserves, as reported by Oil & Gas Journal, were estimated at 6,076 trillion cubic feet (tcf).

The developing world accounted for virtually all the increase in proved reserves over the last years. The most significant increase was seen in Qatar, where the estimate of proved gas reserves grew from 508 tcf for 2003 to 910 tcf for 2004. A Smaller increase yet still substantial, of 128 tcf were reported for Iran. Nigeria's reserves increased by 35 tcf. According to the report, almost three-quarters of the world's natural gas reserves are located in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, with Russia, Iran, and Qatar combined accounting for about 58 percent of the total.
The natural gas industry in Central and South America is still at an early stage of development. The report states that at the beginning of 2004, Central and South America held 4.1 percent of the world's proved natural gas reserves (about 250 tcf).
The region's largest natural gas reserves are in Venezuela (148 tcf) and Trinidad and Tobago, Bolivia, and Argentina also hold reserves of more than 20 tcf each. Brazil and Peru have reserves of about 8 trillion cubic feet.

Consumption of natural gas in the world is projected to increase by 70 per cent by 2025. The most robust growth in consumption is expected to be in the nations of the developing world. Most of that increase is projected to be used in electricity generation. Whereas in the developed world, the increase is expected to grow at a more moderate rate, with the greatest increase in the US. This moderation is attributed to the maturity of the natural gas market in these nations.

The IEO2004 report also makes projections for natural gas production. Once again the developing world is projected to have the largest increase. The region of the Middle East is expected to produce 18.8 tcf by 2025. That is an increase of 10.5 tcf from the 8.3 tcf in 2001. The industrialized countries are projected to produce an average of 0.7 percent per year by 2025. This is the smallest increase in the projections.

Despite high rates of increase in natural gas consumption, particularly over the past decade, most regional reserves-to-production ratios have remained high. Worldwide, the reserves-to-production ratio is estimated at 60.7 years. Central and South America has a reserves-to-production ratio of 68.8 years, Russia, 75.5 years, and Africa 88.9 years. The Middle East's reserves-to-production ratio exceeds 100 years.

Future expectations
According to the most recent United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates, released in the World Petroleum Assessment 2000, a significant volume of natural gas remains to be discovered. The mean estimate for worldwide undiscovered gas is 4,258 tcf. Of the total natural gas resource base, an estimated 3,000 tcf is in "stranded" reserves, usually located too far away from pipeline infrastructure or population centers to make transportation of the natural gas economical. Of the new natural gas resources expected to be added over the next 25 years, reserve growth accounts for 2,347 tcf. More than one-half of the mean undiscovered gas estimate is expected to come from the Russian Federation, the Middle East, and North Africa; and about one-third (1,169 tcf) is expected to come from a combination of North, Central, and South America. Although the United States has produced more than 40 percent of its total estimated natural gas endowment and carries less than 10 percent as remaining reserves, in the rest of the world reserves have been largely unexploited. Outside the United States, the world has produced less than 10 percent of its total estimated natural gas endowment and carries more than 30 percent as remaining reserves.

The Bolivian situation
If Bolivia is counting on getting out of poverty by exporting its natural gas, it has to take a good look at the world market and realize the picture is not that rosy. Taking into account that South America as a total has only about 4.1 percent of the total proven world natural gas reserves, it is relatively clear that Bolivia does not have that much gas to compete in world markets. That is compared to Qatar, which boasts a whopping 940 tcf of proven reserves or even Venezuela, which has 148 tcf of proven natural gas reserves. However, it is said that Bolivia has a total of 54 tcf of proven and probable reserves. That gives Bolivia a respectable second place in Latin America.

The look above is in the context of a world view. When we zoom into the more regional picture, the prospects look a little better. As the report highlights, most of the production as well as consumption of natural gas is expected to take place in the developing nations, with most of the production coming from the Middle East and the former Russian Federation. However, consumption is set to increase also in the Latin American region. From this increase, Bolivia can possibly profit.

Bolivia is already exporting natural gas to Brazil and Argentina. These are two of the most lucrative markets in the region. As far as prospects go, the Brazilian market looks more lucrative for Bolivia. Consumption of natural gas in Brazil increased from 119 billion cubic feet (bcf) in 1991 to 339 bcf in 2001. In 2002, Bolivia exported a total of 139.4 bcf to Brazil. Brazil imports 44 percent of its natural gas. These numbers indicate a solid base for Bolivia to keep supplying its natural gas to Brazil. On the other hand, Brazil's policy goal is self-sufficiency in energy. In light of recent reserves discoveries of 14.8 tcf and a weaker investment ability in domestic plants, Brazil is currently seeking to reduce imports of Bolivian gas.

Another possibility to expand Bolivia's prospects is Liquid Natural Gas (LNG). Bolivia, as part of its strategy for export, wants to be able to export LNG outside the region. This form of gas is better suited for transportation to far away places. One such place, Bolivia wants to export its LNG is the US. However, there is a need to bring the product to the sea. Currently, there is a decision, by the government and backed by the results of the referendum, to use a Peruvian port instead of a more economic port in Chile. This decision raises the costs of exporting, not only because there will be a need to build a pipeline through a rough terrain, but also because the Peruvian port is further away than the Chilean port. The debates are still ongoing and a final decision is only half made.

Even though the prospects to use Bolivian natural gas as a development engine is promising, Bolivia's strategy for development is not on solid ground. Factors like the world markets are a strong force influencing what happens with this policy. The government better not rely solely on natural gas for its economic strategy. The international market for natural gas will be very competitive and at times perhaps brutal.

September 19, 2004

On the Coca Problem.

MABB is a registered TM.

Through a round of my blogroll, I found an article that posed a very interesting question on the issue of the eradication policies of the coca leaf in Bolivia. The question is part of an article written by Eduardo Ávila, author of Barrio Flores.

"If this leaf is so sacred (and has been for centuries), then why is it allowed to be used for the manufacturing of an illicit product?" (here is the entire article)

Many of the people against the government's eradication policies, specially the coca growers, argue that the coca leaf is an ancient, sacred and medicinal leaf used by the Aymaras and Quechuas for thousands of years.

Evo Morales, the charismatic leader of the political party Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) and leader of the coca growers union, started his political carrier representing this union. He has to say this about the coca issue.

"Nosotros, Aymaras y Quechuas, naciones originarias de los Andes, hemos sobrevivido los azotes del hombre blanco hasta el día de hoy gracias a nuestra hoja de coca. Desde el momento en que llegaron a nuestras tierras, los blancos han querido controlar nuestra hoja para su enriquecimiento personal. Siendo la coca uno de nuestros mayores tesoros, han abusado de ella aquí y ahora abusan de ella por el mundo entero. Como no han podido controlarla, están decididos a destruirla." (you can find more of what Morales says here)

Here is the translation in English.

"We Aymaras and Quechuas, original nations of the Andes, have survived the white man's scourges until today thanks to our coca leaf. From the moment they arrived to out land, the white men wanted to control our leaf for their own enrichment. Being coca one of our treasures, they have abused it here and now they abuse it throughout the entire world. Since they have not been able to control it, they are decided on destroying it."

However, Eduardo's question throws the ball back to the cocalero camp and asks: why not defend the sacred coca against its use in the production of Cocaine? If it is really a "sacred" leaf, isn't is being violated by being sold to drug traffickers?

What the government is trying to stop with its eradication policies is the sale of the coca leaf, by the coca growers, to drug traffickers, who, everybody knows, use the leaf to make cocaine paste.

If the entire block of coca growers would refuse to sale coca to these people (wishful thinking), on the grounds that the coca leaf is to only be used for traditional uses, it would directly address the problem and thus eliminate the need for the government to intervene.

Of course, the problem is not that simple, but it is still a good argument.

September 18, 2004

Really amusing!

MABB is a registered TM.

Surfing through various blogs in Bloggerforum I found a really amusing bit of text, check it out.

In English

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

In Spanish

Sgeun un etsduio de una uivenrsdiad ignlsea, no ipmotra el odren en el que las ltears etsan ersciats, la uicna csoa ipormtnate es que la pmrirea y la utlima ltera esten ecsritas en la psiocion cocrrtea. El rsteo peuden estar ttaolmntee mal y aun pordas lerelo sin pobrleams. Etso es pquore no lemeos cada ltera por si msima preo la paalbra es un tdoo.

Here is for the Francophones

Sleon une édtue de l'Uvinertisé de Cmabrigde, l'odrre des ltteers dnas un mtos n'a pas d'ipmrotncae, la suele coshe ipmrotnate est que la pmeirère et la drenèire soit à la bnnoe pclae. Le rsete peut êrte dnas un dsérorde ttoal et vuos puoevz tujoruos lrie snas porlblème. C'est prace que le creaveu hmauin ne lit pas chuaqe ltetre elle-mmêe, mias le mot cmome un tuot.

And, for the Germans

Die Bcuhstbaenrehenifloge in eneim Wrot ist eagl

Ncah enier nueen Sutide, die uetnr aerdnem von der Cmabirdge Uinertvisy dührruchgeft wrdoen sien slol, ist es eagl, in wlehcer Rehenifloge Bcuhstbaen in eneim Wrot sethen, Huaptschae, der esrte und ltzete Bcuhstbae snid an der rhcitgien Setlle. Die rsetclhien Bshcuteban kenönn ttoal druchenianedr sien, und man knan es tortzedm onhe Poreblme lseen, wiel das mneschilhce Gherin nhcit jdeen Bcuhstbaen enizlen leist, snodren das Wrot als gnazes. Mti dme Pähonemn bchesfätgein shci mherere Hhcochsluen, acuh die aerichmkianse Uivnäseritt in Ptstbigurh. Esrtmlas üebr das Tmeha gchseibren hat aebr breteis 1976 - und nun in der rgchitien Bruecihhsetnafoelngbe - Graham Rawlinson in sieenr Dsiestraiton mit dem Tetil "The Significance of Letter Position in Word Recognition" an der egnlsicehn Uitneivrsy of Ntitongahm.

Neat, or not?

If you want to know more about why is this so, visit this page.

If you want to know where I got the idea, visit this blog. You can visit this other page too, while you're at it, which is how I got there in the first place.

September 15, 2004

Corruption in Bolivia: part I

MABB is a registered TM.

With this post, I want to start a new series of articles covering corruption cases in Bolivia. The titles will start always with the word “corruption” and “Bolivia” so they will be able to be found with a search of this site using the Google search field located at the top of the screen.

As I have already argued before, I think, corruption in Bolivia is one of the “dark forces” preventing it from moving ahead. This time I look at the alleged corruption within the Bolivian National Police Force (Policia Boliviana Nacional or PBN).

According to reports on the Bolivian press (La Razon, El Diario, Los Tiempos, El Deber), the PBN is in the deepest internal turmoil its ever been. Last week, and this week, report after report have been surfacing alleging corruption and inaptitude within the institution headed by the commander, General Jairo Sanabria, which prompted him to leave office. These reports and accounts implicate Sanabria in a series of charges from association with smugglers to covering up and trying to influence justice in favor of his alleged accomplices.

Sanabria is facing serious accusations which accumulate over the last year. A detailed account of the charges include not having activated on time Congress’ security system the day the mine worker Eustaquio Picachuri immolated himself in the lobby. On April 19 he was accused of covering up corruption charges against the president of Musepol, Freddy Zabala. On April 20, lower rank officers accused Sanabria of having distributed over priced lots to police officers. The surcharge was supposed to be for him. On June 24 Sanabria awarded a medal of honor to an administrative worker. The worker was a member of a gang in El Alto. And, among the most serious accusations are: On July 20, district attorney Rodolfo Gutierrez, implicated Sanabria with a gang which posed as inspectors to extort money or goods from smugglers operating on the road connecting Oruro with La Paz. Most of the implicated were police officers. And finally, on September 13, Juan Alcazar (director of the Technical Judicial Police in Oruro) accused Sanabria of being linked with a smuggling ring because he ordered the relief of investigators in a case where five police officers stand accused of receiving illegal money to let smuggler vehicles pass without due inspection.

This latest accusation had a tragic outcome. Alcazar not only repeated the alleged accusations against Sanabria on live TV but also identified a collaborator in the name of Lt. Col. Farid Rojas. After a talk with the high commanders of the police force, Rojas committed suicide. This deepened the suspicions against Sanabria.

This is but the latest case of corruption in a long institutional history of corrupt commanders of the PBN. Prior examples can be cited. Ivan Narvaez Rocha, who was in charge of PBN between 1998 and 1999, is being investigated and accused in the courts for embezzlement. During his 1999 to 2000 appointment as police commander, Jose Luis Medina, stands accused of illegally trying to influence an investigation of embezzlement and fraud. Allegedly police officers who bought lots of land in a PBN sponsored scheme, paid money to get lots assigned to them when they did not have to. General Walter Osinaga, who served as commander in 2001, was accused of having links to the gang of Lt. Col. Blas Valencia. In 2001 this gang stole pay roll money from Prosegur and in the process shot and killed an employee. Osinaga was also accused of nepotism and corruption having had irregular dealings with his son. Allegedly, he assigned phantom goods and money to his son. General Walter Carrasco, who served in 2002, was accused of illegally purchasing equipment for the PBN. And, General Edgar Pardo, who served in 2003, resigned his post amidst accusations of corruption and his inability to manage a mutiny.

Today there is a new commander in chief. Col. David Aramayo Araoz was designated by President Mesa to be the new Chief of Police. His task is overwhelming. He not only has to deal with the turmoil currently afflicting the institution but he also has to rebuild the reputation and self-respect of the police force. Good luck to him!

September 11, 2004

It’s been three years since..........9/11

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It’s been three years since I it happened. As America suffered the atrocious attacks on September 11, 2001, my wife and I were living in Washington, DC. Little that we knew, that morning, which quietly started as many other mornings before it, was going to rapidly turn into a real-life nightmare.

With this post, I just wanted to pay some tribute (in a small way) to all those who lost their lives and all the victims of September 11th. May God bless them all!


Here is my short story of that day. As I said, the day started monotonously quiet. As it was my custom, I drove my wife to work. Around 7:50 am, we were ready, and we drove off. Traffick was congested, as it usually is every morning in the metro area. Our every morning drive usually took us through route 123, where the CIA main building is. We usually passed by the place where on January 25, 1993 a terrorist shot people in their cars who were stopped at the traffic light in front of the CIA. Many of them were CIA agents.

While we were still stuck in the morning rush-hour on Canal road, we were listening our usual radio show, “Diamond in the morning”. All of the sudden the music is interrupted and the first news alert comes in. The report says a plane had just crushed into one of the twin towers in New York. We look at each other and think, what the .........., that is one freak accident. However, there is nothing yet unusual. These things happen here in the US. In my mind I was thinking that was very likely due to the height of the towers and the air traffic around it.

We keep driving through. Short after nine a second news brake interrupts the music and that is when we learn that the second tower had been hit. At that moment we knew, without a doubt, that this was no accident. Someone was attacking us. I am already getting a bit nervous. Finally, we get to our destination. The location is about three or four blocks from the White House, right in the heart of DC. I drop my wife off and head back home.


On the way back I keep my ears close to the radio. The reports keep pouring in. The two towers were hit and people were being rushed to exit the buildings. My way back usually took me through the Key Bridge, which connects Rosslyn, VA with M street, DC. From this bridge, normally, there is a beautiful view of the Potomac river, the Capitol, Washington Monument and the Pentagon. On this morning the only view was a fiery and smoking Pentagon. That is when I hear in the radio that another plane crushed into the Pentagon. By this time I am more than alarmed. I keep on thinking what is going on. I can see the restlessness on the streets already. People looking disoriented as if something were going through their minds.

I get home, finally, and I head straight to the TV. As soon as I turn it on, I can see that even the anchors are alarmed and disoriented. There is a bit of chaos on their reports too. They keep on covering the news and in between they keep on getting new reports. Interrupting what the are saying they keep updating the public as soon as they can. At this time there were unconfirmed reports that the Department of State was being evacuated due to a fire. The next report is that the White House is being evacuated and that perhaps there is also fire. They don’t know at this point whether the fire is due to a hit, a bomb or any other cause. As I am watching these reports, live, all I can think is about my wife who is somewhere in the middle of DC, very near to the White House. The next thing I do is call my wife. She tells me that they were also watching the reports and no one was actually working. Every one was stuck to the TV watching live what was going on in New York. She also tells me that they were told to go home.

By this time I am already very alarmed and decide to go pick up my wife from work. She tells me the work day was suspended because the federal government is closed. When the government is closed in DC, there is something serious going on. So I grab my keys and get into my car.

As soon as I turn the corner, I find the streets were somewhat empty but the people were driving as if they were nervous and in a hurry. I think about which route to take best. I decide that the usual rout through route 123 is best. The other ones get too congested and it is difficult to get off of them. Of course, I know at this time that the chance the streets are full is big. Once I cross the Chain Bridge and head down on Canal road, once again, I hit a wave of cars heading the opposite direction. The people are coming back and trying to get out of DC. To make matters worst, the road had been closed to traffic bounded towards DC and was only for traffic getting out of DC.

Time is running out and I get more nervous. Then I see this guy driving directly down Canal road against the traffic. I decide to follow the car and the rest of the cars behind me decide to follow me too. Next thing I know we are driving against traffic, towards DC. Once we get into the city, we find that the traffic is truly chaotic. There are no traffic lights, there is no order, there is no law. Traffic is paralyzed and no one can move. So I park my car and go on to meet my wife on foot.

Everyone in DC is on their cell phones trying to talk, but no one is able to reach anybody. The waves and the system are overloaded and blocked. People are walking here and there, at times seemed to me, without sense or direction. I kept on walking through the streets until I reached my wife. Once I had her on my side I felt much better and calmed. Everybody were talking about an attack to New York and DC. One could really see that people were scared.

Luckily, traffic cleared significantly and we were able to drive out of DC relatively soon. Once we got home, we were glued to the TV for the rest of the day and the following week.

It was terrible to have lived through that time. Even though we were relatively safe at home, watching how the towers collapsed and all that happened afterwards did not make it easy. In fact, after a while, we could not watch anymore and we had to turn it off.

September 06, 2004

Reverend Mayor?

MABB is a registered TM.

How far does a religious man has to go in order to serve the poor?

Father Wilson Soria, currently assigned to direct the Cristo Redentor congregation in Villa Ingenio, El Alto (La Paz), has decided, according to a report from the APA (Agencia de Prensa Altena), to leave the religious life in order to serve the poor better.

The 45 year old catholic cleric, born in Cochabamba, is praised by the members of his congregation for having played a decisive role during the so called Gas War. The report states that many of his followers have absolute trust in him.

El Alto is in the midst of intense negotiations by the political parties to pick candidates to run for the office of Mayor. Many political parties have been courting religious personalities to join their candidates lists. The Movement Towards Socialism party (MAS) has tempted father Soria to leave his religious post and incur into politics by offering him an ambitious, but as of now, unknown social project.

Critics are quick to comment that religion should not be mixed with politics. Father Soria's indigenous counterparts and critics have said the leaders of MAS have made a mistake in picking a candidate who does not reflect the interests of the native population of El Alto. Moreover they added Father Soria is not the right candidate because he comes from the Catholic Church. The church is considered by the indigenous as having been one of the principal instruments to erase or radically change native customs and beliefs.

Father Soria is, at least for now, the MAS' mayoral candidate for the approaching municipal elections.

My questions:

Should this peculiar candidate be allowed to run for public office?

Should the church be an acceptable spring-board for political life?

To what extent would church and state be mixed if a candidate like Soria gets hold office?

Feel free to post your comments!

September 01, 2004

Nepotism?'s not Nepotism. It's Just the Way it works.

MABB is a registered TM.

Political parties in Bolivia, are actually more powerful than they appear. They just don't only have influence through the legislative branch. The parties' tentacles extend all around the government apparatus through nepotism, favoritism and job quotas.

On August 1, of this year, president Mesa surprised congress by designating 17 new officials (district attorneys, judges and other officials) to fill posts in the Judicial branch that hadn't been filled for a decade by congress. According to some analysts, Mesa meant to tackle two problems at once with this initiative. One was to fight corruption by appointing reputable individuals in these posts. The other one was to pressure congress to once and for all take responsibility and do its constitutionally mandated job of filling such posts. This lack of action in the part of congress was, and still is, due to the partisan politics within it (for more info on this look here).

Why is the Bolivian Congress so ineffective? Well, in addition to the fact that legislating is such a complex process, there are 16 political parties representing the Bolivian people in congress. In order to make laws these parties, first, have to form coalitions so there is a majority and a minority faction. And, in order to form these coalitions, the members of these parties negotiate intensely all the aspects related to consolidating power for the party.

According to a report in the La Paz newspaper La Razon, one of the ways in which the parties gain consensus and make allies is actually distributing political posts and jobs in the bureaucratic apparatus. They do not only distribute among themselves the most powerful jobs in the administration, like ministries, advisors and so on, they also distribute the less prestigious but important nevertheless, administrative jobs. They actually have quotas of jobs in the public administration assigned to each party.

Just recently, a Senator from the MAS Roman Loayza (Movement Towards Socialism), acknowledged that his party has a quota of 57 jobs within the congress. Another member of parliament (MP) from MNR (Nationalist Revolutionary Movement), who asked to be kept anonymous, confirmed that his party had 150 jobs within congress. Altogether in the Deputy Chamber there are 333 jobs assigned to political parties and around 600 contractors. But, the party politics doesn't stop there. Many of those jobs go to family members of the MPs. For example, the deputy Reyes Villa (NFR) had his mother-in-law in the payroll. Moreover, the daughter of Senator Chirvechez (NFR) works in the offices of the Vice President. Some cases are even amusing. Senator Majluf (MNR) assured La Razon that his relatives were of 4th or 5th degree, thereby not really relatives. Loayza argues that this arrangement is necessary for his party to maintain the connection to the social movements.

As a result of La Razon's report which made public nine cases of nepotism within congress, the heads of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies ordered an investigation. Senator Hormando Vaca Diez (MIR) and Deputy Mario Cossio (MNR), presidents of the Senate and the Camber of Deputies respectively stated these cases of nepotism were going to be investigated and they promised action, an audit and a report in the near future.

Along with the investigation, the congress has called on the anti-corruption delegate Lupe Cajias to work with congress to help with this issue.

One immediate result from this practice of job quotas I can think of is that it makes the administrative apparatus less consistent and less responsive to the needs of the people. That means, if every time there is a new government, or a new governing coalition, jobs all over the public administration are reshuffled, therefore there is no continuity and consistency for the people. The public administration is in a continuous process of renewal. Now don't get me wrong, sometimes renewal is good, but continuous renewal can also be harmful. People in these jobs, therefore, will tend to want to gain as much as they can from the job, since they do not know for how long they will be working. This, in my mind, contributes to corruption.

Bolivia has and will have its work cut out when it comes to corruption. At least the country has already begun on the right path.

La Papa Boliviana.....cont'd.

MABB is a registered TM.

Yesterday I posted an article about Bolivian potatoes in the blogzine "Living in Bolivia". This post is a continuation of that article. Rather than talk more about the virtues of Bolivian potatoes, I wanted to post some amazing pictures, of potatoes, that I found in various sources.

Papa Boliviana

The picture above shows some of the different varieties that exist. Many of them I did not know existed. It also shows, in my view, that potatoes are not as boring as some might think they are. As you can see for yourself here, they are very colorful, and come in different shapes and forms. For example, on the picture below one can see the Nojcha. This potato is the one used to measure-up if the future wife is fit to become a housewife. Looking at it, makes me think, one really has to be skilled to peel that potato so as to preserve its original shape. I know I would end up with a square looking potato.


On the next picture you can see the one that I grew up with. This potato is delicious. It goes with everything. It has a solid consistency and a very distinct flavor. It is not flowery at all, to the contrary is almost smooth.


Here are two more examples of weird looking potatoes. The purple one is starting to be used to produce potato chips of color. This potato has natural color and thus it is not necessary to add any artificial color at all.


Well, if you bared with me and actually read the two articles about Bolivian potatoes, you must be thinking, where is my diploma? Now you know more than you ever wanted to know about potatoes. That is the way I feel too. I never dreamed of ever writing an article about potatoes. But as you can see, they do have an interesting side. Especially talking about Bolivian potatoes. I always knew there were many kinds of potatoes in Bolivia. Just by being dragged by my mom to the local market to help her I could see the amazing variety. Later on during my travels in Europe -where some people don't know that potatoes are originally from Latin America and some countries hold the potato as their own- I always said that in Bolivia there were about 150 kinds of potatoes. Little that I knew that number was more like 1200.