December 15, 2006

Showdown Between Opposition and Government Forces

MABB © ®
The departments of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and Tarija are showing their determination to put a stop to what they call, government rollover. The four departments are holding simultaneous townhall meetings (cabildos) to assert (and kick start) the autonomic process and show their support for the 2/3 voting system in the Constituent Assembly. The four meetings are being held in each capital city, and as you can see from the image on the left, the Santa Cruz meeting, which is the most important, is already well on its way.However, the four townhall meetings are no the only concentraltion of people in the country. The other departments are also holding their own versions of demonstrations. As you can see from the next graph, there are concentrations of people in the departments of La Paz, Potosi, Tarija and Sucre. These last ones are in support of the simple majority voting system.

Reports are already reaching the media. If you want to see up to the minute images, you can visit the Yahoo section for Bolivia. It has the most up to the minute images I have seen. It also has current news. You can also find more images in Getty Images repository. Visit the section for Bolivia.

At present time there are reports of around 22 people injured in confrontations in a locality near Santa Cruz. Boomberg says: "Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Clashes between protesters and government supporters in Bolivia's eastern state of Santa Cruz have left 22 people injured, a government spokesman said. The injuries are not serious and the violence in Santa Cruz is ``absolutely under control,'' government spokesman Alex Contreras said in a telephone interview from La Paz." And AlertNet reports: "By Eduardo Garcia, SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Supporters of leftist President Evo Morales clashed with protesters going to an anti-government rally in eastern Bolivia on Friday, leaving about 20 protesters injured, a state official said. The protesters were traveling to Bolivia's wealthiest city, Santa Cruz, where local leaders planned massive street protests on Friday afternoon to demand greater regional autonomy."

The organizers of the townhall meetings are expecting to have one million people come together. Hoybolivia.com is reporting 600,000 people in Santa Cruz alone. Hoybolivia will have constant updates throughout the meeting. The newspaper El Nuevo Dia has reported a demonstration held yesterday in support of the 2/3 voting system in Evo's own turf, Cochabamba. It says that Prefect, Manfred Reyes Villa, wants to call to a townhall meeting due to respond to citizen's demands.

If there is one thing evident, and you can see it clearly in the graph and the picture above, is that Bolivian society is divided like never before. The clashes between government supporters and opposition suporters is one worrying indication that the split is serious and neither side wants to yield an inch. CNN's dramatic account says: "SUCRE, Bolivia (AP) -- The battle to rewrite Bolivia's constitution has come down to a math problem, and the question is anything but academic. Hanging in the balance is not only the direction the nation takes, but perhaps whether it remains a whole country at all."