July 27, 2004

Its Official: Mesa Has Won Mandate, at Least for Now.

MABB is a registered TM.

The official results are out. The CNE (National Electoral Court) has published the official results of the 18th July Gas referendum. In summary, the results translate into a seemingly weak mandate for Mesa to go ahead with his policies. At least for the immediate future.

According to the results, of the 4,461,198 registered and able to vote Bolivians, 60% participated in the referendum. I ask myself where is the rest 40%? This participation rate leaves much room for doubt regarding the legitimacy of the results. Regarding question number one, which asked whether Bolivians were in favor of repealing the Hydrocarbons Law passed during Sanchez de Lozada's presidency, 87% of the people voted yes and 13% of the people voted no. On question number two, which asked whether to recover the natural gas from the multinational companies, 92% of the people voted yes and 8% voted no. On the third question asking whether to reactivate the national oil company, YPFB, 87% the people voted yes and 13% voted no.

These first three results are seen as a clear mandate for the Mesa's administration to continue with its new energy policy, recover the national resources and start the process of industrialization and export of Bolivia's natural gas with involvement of the national oil company. These three questions were the source of significant conflict for months leading up to the referendum and they are most likely to continue being a delicate point in the foreseeable future.

As for question four, which asked for permission to use the Natural Gas as a leverage to negotiate with Chile a way out to the sea (what I dubbed Gas Diplomacy), the reaction was more divided with 55% of the people voting for yes and the remaining 45% voting for no. This question had the least yes votes from all five questions. On the question about the industrialization of the Natural Gas (question number five), 62% of the people answered yes and 38% answered no. Analysts contemplate this last question might have been misunderstood. In essence it told Bolivians what the Mesa administration intended to do once the Gas was nationalized. It gave a glance into Mesa's economic and development policy. The fact that these last two questions won by such narrow margins, compared to the first three, has to be worrisome to the administration. Not only because that demonstrates these questions might have been badly formulated, but also because it shows how bad a job they did on informing the people about the real meaning of the questions. That is likely to come back to hunt Mesa. That, for sure, will become one of the arguments of the anti-referendum movements supporting their likely "I told you so" strategy.

However, the deal is done. The results are in and they are official. It is now up to Mesa to continue on its narrow path balancing his policies against the demands of a populace, by now, tired of false promises.

July 21, 2004


MABB is a registered TM.

As you might have already noticed, I am always ready for a good laugh. I think that, Politics, has its funny side and I like to enjoy it. Recently, I found a site which has a very funny animation clip about the US Elections 2004 (for those of you who are following). I would like to share JibJab with you.

Note: Sorry! apparently the Spiridellis brothers are having problems with their server's traffic. The link is not working or it is veeery slow. It must be congested. They must be happy!

Note: The link is working now! Today is July 22, 2004.

De la Cruz's Counter Argument

MABB is a registered TM.

Apparently, de la Curz's counter argument about the deciding victory of the Si vote in last Sunday's referendum is already formulated.

Roberto de la Cruz, the self described radical "but democratic" COR-El Alto leader, who is at the head of the anti-referendum and boycott movement described his (as he calls it) set back as part of a psychological war against the government. But, he is ready to add that the worst is yet to come. He argues that around 60% of the population was indeed against the referendum. Under this number he includes the absentee votes (40%) plus the blank (10%) and void votes (12%). Although it is worth noting that the official results are still being computed by the CNE. His numbers are based on press reports and projections. He also argues it will be very difficult for the Mesa administration to pass and implement a new Hydrocarbons law because the people who voted for the Si are actually the minority. De la Cruz is not giving up easily.

July 19, 2004

Almost 4 & 1/2 Million People able to Vote

MABB is a registered TM. 

According to statistical projections for the year 2004 from the National Statistical institute (INE, Spanish acronym), there were 5,097,222 adults, 18 and over, able to vote in the referendum. From those, the National Electoral Court (CNE, Spanish acronym) said that 4,455,090 people were eligible to cast a vote on yesterday's referendum. The rest 642,132 people are not registered in the books and thus cannot participate.
The president of CNE, Hassenteufel (what a name!) said that in 2001, approximately 9.58% of the population were not officially registered and lacked identification. This meant about 900 thousand people were illegal in Bolivia. Unfortunately, they do not have numbers for 2004 available. 

In the mean time, it looks like the 4 1/2 million people able to vote (at least the ones who voted), voted for the "Si". The newspaper La Razon reports that with 90% of the electoral tables reporting, the "Si" won a decisive victory. Questions 1, 2 and 3, got between 86% and 92% of the vote. Whereas questions 4 and 5, got 57% and 64% respectively. The abstention rate is projected to be 40%, while null and blank votes are 12% and 10% respectively.
This means that Bolivians want the abrogation of the Hydrocarbons Law, passed during Sanchez de Lozada's presidency; the recovery of the Gas ownership and the financial strengthening of YPFB (the Bolivian oil company).
As for the proposition of using the gas reserves as a diplomatic leverage (Gas diplomacy) to recover sea access, it did not do well. Apparently, Bolivians do not think this is a good policy. Hm! I would have thought this question would have done a lot better than it has.
Mesa Happy
Mesa must be happy!

Come again? which finger is he holding up?  Ah! :-)

A Bolivian Tragedy

MABB is a registered TM.
Education. This is a topic, in which I feel strongly about. One thing that could make me upset when reading the news is to see an article starting thus: The Education Reform in Bolivia did not meet its expectations.
That is exactly what I found in El Diario this morning.
This article talks about how the Education Reform (Law 1565) failed to meet its goals in a period of 10 years. How can a country not have education as one of its  priorities or as "the" priority? In my opinion, education is, aside from being a basic right, a fundamental necessity for the development of a country, not only as a society but economically and politically as well.
From the article, it looks like everyone is conceding defeat, including the government, they are blaming the incompatibility of the law with reality.  Many reasons are cited. Among them are, that the law was drafted from the neoliberal point of view; it does not leave teachers enough pedagogic discretion; does not take into account native cultures and etc., etc., etc.
There are two things that are most alarming to me in this report. The first one, the article says that Bolivian children start to read and write at the third and fourth grade. And the second is that the government spent about US$337 million between 1995 and 2003.
Now, I am not exactly sure of the statistics, but I think most children are taught to read and write (at least start) begining in Headstart or Kindergarten. I personally know many children who went to first grade already knowing how to read. If that is the case in Bolivia (children starting to read in third or fourth grade), then there is clearly a failure.
As for the money, this is just a never ending story. We hear it over and over again. There is a program to be funded. The money gets transferred. But the people who are in charge of the project keep the money, leaving the project ineffective. According to the news report, the ones who benefited the most with the education reform were the bureaucrats in the Education Ministry.
I don't want to slam on Bolivia's efforts to reform the education system. After all, the fact that they recognize there is a need for reform, already shows some seriousness and willingness to do something about it. I am just tired of hearing about failure after failure. 

I would be very pleased if this government makes education a priority. I strongly think this would be the first step towards development.

July 17, 2004

Referendum: Pros and Cons

MABB is a registered TM.
A couple of days ago, I was watching the debate between candidate Ralph Nader and former Governor Howard Dean. According to some news reports, Dean was trying to convince Nader to drop off the race and stop taking away votes that otherwise would go to the Democrats. Of course, Nader argues that his candidacy will actually take away votes from the Republican side. But, that is not the point of this article. The point is that in one of their exchanges about democracy and participatory democracy, they came somehow to talk about referenda. Dean said he was not in favor of such mechanism because referenda tended to impose the opinion of the majority on the minority. He further spoke of the 'tyranny of the majority' and that usually referenda do not watch out for the rights of minorities.
After hearing these comments, I thought, what would happen if in Bolivia a significant majority of the people decide to boycott the referendum. Then we would have a minority participating in the referendum and thus making the decision. This situation would create, if we follow Deans reasoning, the 'tyranny of the minority.' But this would not be the case in this instance, because the Bolivian Referendum Law dictates that the outcome of the referendum would be accepted, if and only if, at least 50% of the voters who are properly registered participate. So if only 49% of the electorate votes, then the referendum would be considered invalid.
Well, that resolved, I thought that was that. But not. After another little bit of thinking I thought to myself. Will the referendum be beneficial to Bolivia? Can a referendum, in any way, not be beneficial? After all, it is, according to some people, the ultimate expression of democracy. I mean, what more than having the people directly making the decisions? Can anything go wrong?
Well, after some reading I was able to gather some thoughts about the problems of a referendum. One problem cited was that it induces demagoguery, but that just assumes too much. Besides, there was enough demagoguery in Bolivia even before the possibility of a referendum. Moving on, the next problem cited was that it is plain inefficient and costly to organize and hold the referendum. The costs would rise the more referenda the country would have to hold. Logistically it would be very difficult to hold a referendum for multiple issues, much less for every issue, if the democracy is really participatory. Also, voters would get tired if they have to vote every so often on issues. Perhaps voter turnout would decrease over time. A last interesting argument is that since the questions have to be in the form of Yes or No, what if thre results to two questions come out to be incoherent. Like on one side, yes lower taxes and on the other side increase government expenses (sounds familiar?).
I don't cite the pros because they are well known and I just found the cons more interesting, anyhow. Of all the above problems, I found the last two most reasonable. Perhaps, voter turn-out would decrease over time is people would have to vote, say, every month. I can only picture myself having to vote every month and more over having to endure the info campaign of every issue at stake. Hm, I don't know if I would survive. Additionally, what if there are two issues to consider and the results are incoherent? Ok, that happens also in other kinds of democracies (representative democracy, etc.). But it would be sort of, ..................well, dumb if that happens.

July 16, 2004

"Instructivo" from the Bases

MABB is a registered TM.

The Only Union Confederation of Bolivian Agrarian Workers (CSUTCB, Spanish acronym) has released its "Instructivo" (instructions) to be followed by all member organizations. This decision sets up the climate for a troublesome weekend in Bolivia.

Fallowing, you can read the Spanish text of this instructions.


Que, el actual gobierno de Carlos D. Mesa Gisbert y la megacoalición MNR-MAS- MIR-NFR-UCS, a ocho meses de gobierno ha demostrado el continuismo absoluto del “gonismo” y servil de los gringos del imperialismo yanqui. Mesa ha venido implementando una serie de medidas que demostró que MESA es igual o peor que GONI, que con sus actitudes de soberbia y capricho consolidaron la venta de nuestro último recurso hidrocarburífero del GAS, a precio de gallina muerta al vecino país de la Argentina y luego a Chile, rompiendo la agenda de ocutubre/2003, donde claramente pedimos NO a la VENTA del GAS como materia prima sino, NACIONALIZACIÓN, INDUSTRIALIZACION Y COMERCIALIZACIÓN con valor agregado.

Que, El Tribunal Constitucional ha establecido que no es obligatorio ir a votar en el Referéndum, por tanto, no habrá ninguna sanción.

Que, “Carlos D. Mesa y el MAS-EVO” convocan al Referéndum inconstitucional de 5 preguntas capciosas y tramposas para: a) legitimar la política entreguista y enriquecer la “Propuesta de la Ley de Hidrocarburos de Carlos D. Mesa Gisbert y el MAS” favoreciendo a las Empresas Petroleras Transnacionales, b) Plantean la Venta como materia prima del GAS a Chile y Estados Unidos, c) Evita tramposamente la NACIONALIZACION INMEDIATA, INSDUSTRIALIZACION Y COMERCIALIZACION DEL GAS Y EL PETROLEO. Además aprobaron la Ley de inmunidad para los militares gringos norteamericanos, por eso MESA y EL MAS-EVO cometieron la más vil traición a la patria, provocando a la población sumida en la miseria y el hambre, a una nueva convulsión social del país.

Que, una vez mas las Nacionalidades Indígenas del antiguo Qullasuyu (Bolivia) es frustrado en sus justos derechos de reivindicación social y es fiel testigo de la poca voluntad política de este gobierno, en atender nuestro Pliego Unico Nacional de Demandas, a través de la concertación de un diálogo nacional de cara al pueblo CSUTCB-GOBIERNO conjuntamente la Organización Matriz de la Central Obrera Boliviana (COB).

La Confederación Sindical Unica de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia (CSUTCB), como una organización de esencia y presencia de la Nación Indígena, y en uso de sus legítimas atribuciones conferidas por el Estatuto Orgánico,

A las 9 Federaciones Departamentales y 20 Regionales del país, Federaciones Departamentales de Mujeres Campesinas “Bartolina Sisa”, Sindicatos Agrarios, Sub Centrales, Centrales, Provinciales, Departamentales indígenas y no indígenas y demás organizaciones afiliadas a la CSUTCB, ponerse a la altura y exigencia del pueblo en general y la sociedad civil en su conjunto.

Primero.- No asistir al sufragio del REFERENDUM y acatar de manera absoluta a las MARCHAS, CABILDOS ABIERTOS Y BLOQUEO NACIONAL EN CONTRA DEL REFERENDUM Y SUS PREGUNTAS TRAMPOSAS DE MESA Y EL MAS-EVO en todo el territorio nacional, a partir de las cero horas del día viernes 16, 17 y 18 de julio de 2004.

Segundo.- Organizar GRUPOS DE APOYO por cada Sindicato Agrario, Sub central, Central, provincial y departamental en los diferentes puntos estratégicos que fuere necesario, para la quema de ánforas y evitar el plebiscito del REFERENDUM TRAMPOSO.

Tercero.- Deben coordinar con todos los sectores departamentales y provinciales: Choferes y Transportistas, Maestros Rurales y Urbanos, Artesanos, Comités Cívicos, Juntas Vecinales y otros para una movilización conjunta.

Cuarto.- Pedir a las Federaciones de Transporte Público Urbano y Rural, Nacional, Internacional e Interprovincial, la no circulación de vehículos de servicio público durante el bloqueo, a fin de evitar consecuencias fatales.

Es dado en la Sala de Sesiones de la CSUTCB, de la ciudad de la ciudad de La Paz, a los dos días de julio de dos mil cuatro años.

¡¡¡TUPAC KATARI, VIVE Y VUELVE.........................CARAJO!!!



July 11, 2004

Bolivian Headlines

MABB is a registered TM.

Bolivian Justice (El Diario)

Yerko Kukoc, the former Government Minister during the Sanchez de Lozada administration, who was processed for illegally appropriating state funds, was sentenced, after his confession, to two years of house arrest; fined Bolivianos 1200 (US$151.13) and charged Bolivianos 300 (US$ 38) for legal costs.

Bolivia Opens the Doors to Participative Democracy (El Diario)

After the promulgation of the law Agrupaciones Ciudadanas y Pueblos Indi­genas (Civic Groups and Indigenous People) by the Bolivian President Carlos Mesa, the monopoly of the political parties has come to an end. An important aspect of this law allows independent candidates to participate, without party affiliation, in national or municipal elections.

Huari Challenged Mesa and Decided to Take Arms (Los Tiempos)

The town of Huari, located 140 km (87 mi.) south of Oruro city, decided in a general open meeting, to take up arms in defense of its territory, which is in dispute with the neighboring province, Eduardo Abaroa.

Wrong Decision Will Discredit Bolivia (Opinion)

President Carlos Mesa said yesterday that a wrong decision over the Gas' destiny will detract Bolivia's credibility in the eyes of international creditors. This will result on even fewer opportunities for development.

Bolivia Lost 1-0 and Colombia advances to Copa America's Quarter Finals

A head score over the last minutes of the game between Bolivia and defending champions Colombia, buried Bolivia's aspirations to reach the quarter finals of Copa America Peru.

July 09, 2004

Bill Clinton: Never Ceases to Amuse

MABB is a registered TM.

For just a little while I entertained the thought of actually buying Bill Clinton's bio, "My Life". Of course, I was mainly interested on the details of his private life and his affair with you know who. NOT! NOT! NOT! I got enough of listening about "that woman" (to quote Clinton) during the whole impeachment affair.

But seriously, I thought the book would be worth a read for two main reasons. First, and foremost, it is after all, history. The man got to experience what is it like to be the most powerful man in the world. He was very close to start a serious attempt to end the conflict in the Middle East. He presided, al least in the eyes of the many, over the longest economic expansion in US history. He actually managed to erase the massive US Budget Deficit (although a deficit is not necessarily a bad thing) and moreover, turn it into another massive surplus. But the most impressive feat he achieved was to avoid being impeached and actually stay all 8 years of his terms. He stayed in office even though he lied, cheated and gratified himself and all within the walls of the Oval Office. Now that is impressive!

And the other reason I thought the book would be worth reading is because Clinton actually wrote it himself. He really sat down; picked the pen up and wrote, by hand, on note books. I would say that alone would entice me to pick up the book. After all, when one writes a letter by hand, it becomes so personal and many interesting aspects of one's personality come out.

But the real reason for this post is not to ramble on about Bill Clinton. God knows the world doesn't need another rambler on the topic. It is to place this link to a funny review by Slate on Clinton's book.

July 08, 2004

Legality of the Referendum

MABB is a registered TM.

In a race against time, the two chambers of the Bolivian legislative branch, passed on Tuesday, July 6th, the law giving, the oncoming 18 July Referendum, legality. At the same time, even more confusion was added by Congress passing this law due to the change of the word "obligatory" for "voluntary".

The law Frame for the Referendum (Ley Marco del Referendum) was passed on Tuesday, July 6th by the Senate and Deputy chambers. There was a great deal of negotiation and compromise to reach that outcome. The law gives legality to the Referendum and adds some more aspects to the decree calling for the Referendum made by president Mesa on April 13, 2004.

Most markedly, this law silences criticism about the unconstitutionality of the Referendum. Political parties such as New Republican Force (NFR, Spanish acronym), Indigenous Movement Pachakuti (MIP) and a long list of civic and union organizations have been trying to stop the popular vote. One of their arguments was the unconstitutionality of the Referendum, because it did not have a legal frame.

The law also adds several modalities to the mechanism. Chiefly, it provides for the possibility to call to a Referendum at the national, departmental and municipal levels. Each of which, would try to address questions directly related to the level it was called for. This specific aspect comes out of the negotiation and compromise within the Congress. Several factions, specially the ones from Santa Cruz, were in favor of including localized mechanisms.

On the negative side, the new law also brings more confusion to the Referendum. Mostly because of the wording used to express the degree of obligation to vote. On his call to vote, president Mesa stated that voting was "obligatory". On the new law, the Congress gives the choice to vote by exchanging the word "obligatory" by "voluntary". Congress argues that a Referendum is just a form of a popular consultation (in this case binding for the government) and as such, it should be voluntary. The government as well as the National Electoral Court (CNE, by its Spanish acronym) argue that the vote is mandated by law. Mesa recently turned his April 13th decree into law.

This new discrepancy affects how the Referendum is seen nationally. Specially when the "abstention" campaign is gathering momentum. Various organizations and political parties nationally are working on an abstention campaign. This campaign, driven by campesino organizations, the Bolivian Workers Central (COB), Regional Workers Central (COR El Alto), Movement without Land (MST), MIP and CSUTCB (led by Quispe), etc., aims to take away any legitimacy the results could potentially show.

July 07, 2004

The Veepstakes are Finally Over

MABB is a registered TM.

press_raleigh-edwardsJohn F. Kerry, finally, announced yesterday his choice for running mate. The title falls on freshman senator from N.C., John Edwards. This means that if the ticket Kerry/Edwards wins in November, we'll have a President and a Vice-President whose first names are "John". This will be a first time in US history, I believe.

But seriously, notwithstanding the fierce rivalry shown in the primaries, Kerry and Edwards have a lot in common. According from to a report by the AP, there is not much of a difference between the positions of the two former rivals. Both Kerry and Edwards advocate for ambitious health care plans, education programs, and raise taxes to the rich. Some differences highlighted were, on trade, and the death penalty.

All in all, the Kerry camp hopes to benefit from Edwards' talents for campaigning. Edwards has been seen as a bright rising star within the Democratic party. His nonchalant charismatic persona attracted voters, especially from the south, where Edwards is from. But there is one small doubt about Kerry's choice. That is Edwards' relative inexperience. Can the Kerry/Edwards ticket overcome doubts about Edwards' inexperience? Especially, when there were seemingly more qualified (certainly with more experience) people like Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri or Senator Bob Graham of Florida.

The Kerry camp seem to be sure Edwards will prove his critics wrong once the campaign enters its final phase. This pick has certainly made the race more interesting. The major question is, whether Edwards will be able to deliver the south for Kerry. That south which is so elusive for a New England liberal democrat like Kerry.

July 06, 2004

The Oracle Speaks!

MABB is a registered TM.

This time I am going to post, with permission of the Washington Post, an opinion article written by Warren Buffett. I think is an entertaining article to read and at the same time it has an interesting argument.

Fuzzy Math And Stock Options
By Warren Buffett
Tuesday, July 6, 2004; Page A19

Until now the record for mathematical lunacy by a legislative body has been held by the Indiana House of Representatives, which in 1897 decreed by a vote of 67 to 0 that pi -- the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter -- would no longer be 3.14159 but instead be 3.2. Indiana schoolchildren momentarily rejoiced over this simplification of their lives. But the Indiana Senate, composed of cooler heads, referred the bill to the Committee for Temperance, and it eventually died.

halliburton bond-sm

What brings this episode to mind is that the U.S. House of Representatives is about to consider a bill that, if passed, could cause the mathematical lunacy record to move east from Indiana. First, the bill decrees that a coveted form of corporate pay -- stock options -- be counted as an expense when these go to the chief executive and the other four highest-paid officers in a company, but be disregarded as an expense when they are issued to other employees in the company. Second, the bill says that when a company is calculating the expense of the options issued to the mighty five, it shall assume that stock prices never fluctuate.

Give the bill's proponents an A for imagination -- and for courting contributors -- and a flat-out F for logic.

All seven members of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, all four of the big accounting firms and legions of investment professionals say the two proposals are nonsense. Nevertheless, many House members wish to ignore these informed voices and make Congress the Supreme Accounting Authority. Indeed, the House bill directs the Securities and Exchange Commission to "not recognize as 'generally accepted' any accounting principle established by a standard setting body" that disagrees with the House about the treatment of options.

The House's anointment of itself as the ultimate scorekeeper for investors, it should be noted, comes from an institution that in its own affairs favors Enronesque accounting. Witness the fanciful "sunset" provisions that are used to meet legislative "scoring" requirements. Or regard the unified budget protocol, which applies a portion of annual Social Security receipts to reducing the stated budget deficit while ignoring the concomitant annual costs for benefit accruals.

I have no objection to the granting of options. Companies should use whatever form of compensation best motivates employees -- whether this be cash bonuses, trips to Hawaii, restricted stock grants or stock options. But aside from options, every other item of value given to employees is recorded as an expense. Can you imagine the derision that would be directed at a bill mandating that only five bonuses out of all those given to employees be expensed? Yet that is a true analogy to what the option bill is proposing.

Equally nonsensical is a section in the bill requiring companies to assume, when they are valuing the options granted to the mighty five, that their stocks have zero volatility. I've been investing for 62 years and have yet to meet a stock that doesn't fluctuate. The only reason for making such an Alice-in-Wonderland assumption is to significantly understate the value of the few options that the House wants counted. This undervaluation, in turn, enables chief executives to lie about what they are truly being paid and to overstate the earnings of the companies they run.

Some people contend that options cannot be precisely valued. So what? Estimates pervade accounting. Who knows with precision what the useful life of software, a corporate jet or a machine tool will be? Pension costs, moreover, are even fuzzier, because they require estimates of future mortality rates, pay increases and investment earnings. These guesses are almost invariably wrong, often substantially so. But the inherent uncertainties involved do not excuse companies from making their best estimate of these, or any other, expenses. Legislators should remember that it is better to be approximately right than precisely wrong.

If the House should ignore this logic and legislate that what is an expense for five is not an expense for thousands, there is reason to believe that the Senate -- like the Indiana Senate 107 years ago -- will prevent this folly from becoming law. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, has firmly declared that accounting rules should be set by accountants, not by legislators.

Even so, House members who wish to escape the scorn of historians should render the Senate's task moot by killing the bill themselves. Or if they are absolutely determined to meddle with reality, they could attack the obesity problem by declaring that henceforth it will take 24 ounces to make a pound. If even that friendly standard seems unbearable to their constituents, they can exempt all but the fattest five in each congressional district from any measurement of weight.

In the late 1990s, too many managers found it easier to increase "profits" by accounting maneuvers than by operational excellence. But just as the schoolchildren of Indiana learned to work with honest math, so can option-issuing chief executives learn to live with honest accounting. It's high time they step up to that job.

The original article can be found in this link. Of course, you have to register to access content in the Post's site (for that matter you have to register in the New York Times too). Registration is free but a bit bothersome.
The image is only for purposes of illustration.

July 05, 2004

Bolivian News Headlines

MABB is a registered TM.

These are some headlines from Bolivian newspapers translated into English. Click on the links to go to the newspaper to read the original article in Spanish.

The Presidents of Bolivia and Brazil Define Meeting Agenda.

Debt forgiveness, road construction, and the construction of two thermoelectric plants are the central topics of next Thursday's meeting between the president of Bolivia, Carlos Mesa and the president of Brazil, Luis Inacio "Lula" da Silva. (El Diario)

The Government Will Use Force in Order to Guarantee Referendum.

The Bolivian Government will handle boycotters as delinquents. The army and police will guard the 20,606 electoral tables. President Mesa asked Bolivians to defend their right to vote. (La Razon)

In La Paz, the Rains Leave, but the Temperature Continues to Fall.

In the Altiplano temperatures will continue to fall, although they will not fall under this month's predicted low -2.8 C° (26 F). Snow will continue threatening Potosi and in the east (Santa Cruz) and the valleys (Cochabamba) the weather will continue to be temperate. (La Razon)

MAS Expels "Filipo", and Processes 4 Senators.

Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) concluded in yesterday's assembly to expel senator Filemon Escobar from its ranks for voting in favor of the US troops' immunity treaty. Other four senators, Alicia Muñoz, Carlos Sandy, Bonifaz Bellido y Marcelo Aramayo, will be disciplined. (Los Tiempos)

Potosi is Ready to Implement Regional Autonomy.

Potosi's prefect, Gisela Derpic, assures that Potosi is ready for autonomy and is in the best conditions. Derpic cites the mining, agriculture and tourism sectors as the bases of Potosi's economy. (El Potosi)

Road Blocking Against the Rise in Public Transport Prices.

Intersections and avenues were blocked starting 6 am by neighbors and workers in Santa Cruz. These protests were against the rise in public transport prices. (El Mundo)

Ayo-Ayo Gives the Government an Ultimatum: They Will Create a New State.

The people of Ayo-Ayo, headed by Gabriel Pinto (leader of the Movement Without Land) has given the government until next Wednesday to set free those accused in the murder of the mayor, Benjamin Altamirano. Pinto added that if the government does not set the accused free there will be no negotiations and Ayo-Ayo will establish an independent state. (El Mundo)

Note: A large majority of this blog's readers read Spanish. If anyone would like a translation of a particular article, let me know, and I'll see what I can do.

July 01, 2004

Why are the Campesinos in Bolivia Arming Themselves?

MABB is a registered TM.

campesinos armadosThe Paceno newspaper La Razon reported today that there is evidence the campesinos in the Altiplano are arming themselves.

The report goes on to say that the government, represented by the Defense Minister, Gonzalo Arredondo, presumes the arms are destined for groups in the Altiplano region which are organizing some type of action. Furthermore, the government argues such groups have subversive ideas and objectives.

The government's arguments are based on a series of police and intelligence services' actions which led to the discovery and seizure of arms and ammunitions in and around the urban area of La Paz. As examples, several operations were cited. On April 25, 2004, police seized arms and ammunition from the house of an former military man. On April 2, 2004, the PTJ (Policia Tecnica Judicial/Technical Judicial Police) seized 8,800 dynamite sticks from a private house north of La Paz. On May 2004, Argentinean police seized five missile heads from three subjects (an Argentinean, a Paraguayan and a Bolivian) who were allegedly smuggling the missiles from Bolivia. Further evidence is cited in the form of theft of rifles, ammunition and explosives from military bases.

The government calls these cases alarming and vows to keep investigating.