June 06, 2005

In Spite of the Church's Efforts, Conflict Continues

MABB © ®

The Bolivian crisis is still unfolding and there are no signs of letting up. In spite of the Catholic Church's efforts to pacify, the social movements in El Alto continue their escalation of the conflict. The leaders of Fejuve-El Alto and COR-El Alto, Abel Mamani and Roberto de la Cruz, as well as Edgar Patana, respectively, expressed their intent to continue negotiating with the Church but the scheduled protests for today, Monday, will go on as planned.

This particular protest has all the elements for a serious confrontation between citizens of El Alto and the citizens of the southern neighborhoods of La Paz. As I talked about in my previous post, the people living in the southern, more affluent, neighborhoods of La Paz (Calacoto, San Miguel, Achumani, Los Pinos, Cota Cota, Obrajes, Sopocachi, Miraflores and the paceno center) have organized themselved into defense committees. The various committee leaders have expressed to various news organizations that they will try to prevent any march going through the southern neighborhoods. At the same time, Mamani, said that today's march will be one of the biggest marches yet and they will try to march to the souther neighborhoods to "persuade" these neighborhoods to support the "just causes" of the alteno people.

Meanwhile, there are more and more reports bringing to light how the FEJUVE gains support from the alteno people. La Razon, reports that various alteno residents expressed their anger at the FEJUVE and its leaders for coercing them into attending all the marches and protests. They say the civic organization hands out attendance tickets at the end of every march. These tickets are then collected by FEJUVE thugs from each household. If a household doesn't have a ticket, they mark their house with an X on the door. That means that house does not support the cause and is a probable target for ........something. Furthermore, the residents say they are threatened into going outside and blocking streets.

So, after the relative calm weekend, La Paz is bracing for another day of marches and protests. This time, however, might be more violent if the residents of El Alto and the southern neighborhoods confront eachother on the streets. The police forces have said they will make sure they provide a peaceful way for the marches. That is no guarantee that confrontations will not happen.

As far as the government is concerned, the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branch have already met and have quasi-decided for early elections. Among the people interested to take the lead of the government until then, are Carlos Mesa and Hormando Vaca Diez. Hm, let's see what happens later when the church talks with the movements. The Church has issued a request to the movements to stop all protests until the new elections. As mentioned earlier, the protests will not stop.