January 03, 2007

Observations to Inconsistencies

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Over the last three days, I have been perplexed (once again) by reading about some latest governmental decisions. On this post, I just want to make some observations and point out to some things that I consider inconsistencies. For example:

On today's La Razón, I read more about the government's decision to start asking US tourists for a visa when entering Bolivia. I also wrote a post about it yesterday (just scroll down). But the details are slowly coming out. The requirements for this visa are, passport, yellow fever vaccination, a bank account, invitation or residence permit and it should be approved by Bolivian immigration. What is curious is that the principle of reciprocity, on which this decision is being applied, does not apply to Venezuela or the EU, for as Venezuela also asks Bolivians to obtain a visa when entering this country and the EU will start all too soon.

I also talked yesterday about the consular id for Bolivians living in the US. It turns out I correctly guessed that the document has not been discussed with the US government. So, it is not sure if the US government or any of the states or local governments will accept this consular id as a form of identification.

Now about the government itself. I just found out the president will travel outside the country without parlamentary permission this January. That is, Morales will not ask the Parliament if he can visit all those countries he is going to. On the 10 he will be visiting Venezuela (I hope he has his visa) and Nicaragua; on the 14 he'll be visiting Ecuador; and on the 16 he'll be in Brazil. The government argues that since the trips are not longer than 5 days, the President does not need to ask congress for permission.

On the issue of political advisors, last year I read in various news reports that Mr. Morales had a number of Venezuelan nationals as advisors around him in the government palace. Today I read about another foreign political advisor. Mr. Walter Chavez, official political advisor of Morales, is Peruvian and has been living in Bolivia in political asylum. The opposition has Mr. Chavez in the scope since the government is trying to deport cuban dissident Samartino.

The massive firing of non-MAS supporters is underway. Even though, the government assures this will not be a "white massacre", and under the banner of austerity, it will fire all individuals that did not support the government's policies and those who do not agree with MAS' principles. The government's speaker assured that the positions will not be filled with MAS' supporters. However, these have been publically calling for more jobs in the government aparatus. It seems to me, that from now on, he who is not MAS supporter will have to look for another job. So, nothing has changed in this respect.

Again, on today's La Razón, I read that Morales, in his speech opening the judicial cycle, blatantly criticized the members of the Supreme Court accusing them of being the product of political quotas. He asked them to take part of his government's policies and aims. I don't know about you but to me this feels as he is asking them to step down, so he can place MAS judges in their places. This comes on the back of criticism the government received by many after Morales appointed by decree four magistrates. Usually, they have to be appointed by Congress.

4 comments:

Josh Renaud said...

Hey Miguel, great post. I also wrote something about this visa situation on my weblog. My wife is Bolivian and we live in the U.S. This whole thing is so frustrating for us.

Thanks for pointing out the hypocrisy on the reciprocity issue. I was fairly certain that there were other countries that required visas from Bolivians, but I didn't know which. But Evo won't do the same to them. This is all about antagonizing the U.S.

Also, do you think you can explain a bit more about the visa requirements? For instance, what is this "invitation or residence permit"? Tourists have to have an invitation?

--Josh

Anonymous said...

Lets hope he antagonizes the U.S. enough that he inadvertently causes the free trade status with the U.S. to not be renewed after June 2007. Then, the nearly 100,000 people that have jobs due to the increased trade with the U.S. will blame Evo & likely become as upset as they did in October 2003. Interestingly the majority of those jobs are in El Alto, the same vortex of people that caused Goni to flee the country.

Making all U.S. visitors and Bolivian expatriates pay because Evo was "insulted" that one of his MAS supporters was denied entry to the U.S. is childish.

-sergio

miguel said...

Hi Josh, good post. Precisely of the same things you talk about I am being affected. It is not against the US government that policy has its effects, it is on regular citizens of Bolivia and US (particularly on Bolivian-Americans). The current constitution says it, if a person is born in Bolivia, it doesn't matter of what country he or she is citizen of, he or she is still Bolivian. That status is never lost. People who were born there do not have the same status as a person who lives there anymore.

About the requirements, I am thinking the government has just turned the US requirements around. So, an American tourist would need to show he has an account in a US bank and show regular activity. I imagine also that electric, telephone or gas bills would have the same use. Also, a letter of invitation from a Bolivian citizen saying that she will take care of the visitor (s) while they stay in Bolivia, is another possibility. On the American requirements, this letter is to shift the burden of the person to the one making the invitation. In essence this person is making him- or herself responsible for the visitor. Of Course, rarely American tourists come to visit family in Bolivia, Bolivians do.

AS for the residence permit, an American who wants to reside in Bolivia has to have a residence permit. Just like the green card in the US. The question is if the Bolivian government is currently issuing such documents. It could be that they are using the same requirements as the US is using (reciprocity) but don't have all the other components to make it a coherent legislation. Or it could still be in development.

miguel said...

Sergio-

Yes, that is one way of looking at it. :-D

Thanks for visiting!