June 24, 2007

Really Light Blogging

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Back, alive and kicking!

Boy, that was a week to remember. I spent the last six days in a horse-drawn wagon riding through the German hinterland, even though I had no idea how to get along with a horse and much less, how to take care of it. It was an experience I won't forget. The name of the horse was Rosi, she weighed 850 Kg (1870 pounds) and was one of the most patient horses I ever met.

That was the reason I did not have a chance to post anything. I really thought I would have at least one chance to post something during the week. After all, we are in Germany. But, no, the trip took us through the most isolated, idyllic and smallest villages in Sachsen Anhalt.

Here, take a look at the company with which I booked the trip. The people there are first class, and they really take care of you. If you ever decide to do a trip like that, tell them I recommended you.

Here is a link to my Flickr set where you can look at some more pictures. And, here you can take a look at one of the places where we stayed, Altmarkhof.

In Bolivia, things pretty much are still the same. Copa America is in full progress and Bolivia plays against Uruguay today, after having tied with Venezuela 2-2.


Dear Readers:

I will be taking off next week, blogging will be very light. Where I'll be I expect to have very little access to a computer, thus I will not be able to post regularly. I will be spending the week riding around the country side on a horse drawn carriage, enjoying the fresh air and the tranquility the country side has to offer.

Best regards,


June 23, 2007

Coup D'Etat Rumors in Bolivia

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Several Bolivian newspapers have reported about rumors of a coup d'etat on the works (Erbol, Los Tiempos, Hoy Bolivia, and ABI, the Bolivian Information Agency). These reports cite Armed Forces General Wilfrido Vargas warning of "irregular movement of certain groups in some regions of the country". He said intelligence reports indicate that there were arms entering the country through some border points. At the same time, Army General Freddy Bersatti warned about "irregular movements" as well. Bersatti also noted that "some groups" were paying university students to organize demonstrations.

There could be two reasons for these reports, at this point in time. The most obvious would be to think the government, because of the Autonomic Junta's planned "mobilization", has decided to give itself some leeway to start mobilizing army troops. That way Morales would have an excuse if it were necessary to repress the mobilizations or demonstrations. They have already been qualified as extreme right motivated. Today, the President called on the civics not to divide Bolivia and not to err on their actions (he means the events next Thursday). Also, it sends a signal to the people of the Civic Committee that the government is getting ready. Perhaps, the civics will have a bit of fear.

Of course, it could also be that there really are some "irregular movements" along the borders and regions. I would think if push comes to shove, the opposition wants to be prepared. At some point, they have to start getting armed if their intentions are serious. And they seem serious.

June 22, 2007

Multinational or Multicultural

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The Bolivian Constituent Assembly (CA) is going through a critical phase. All the commissions are rushing through to finish up their proposals to meet the July deadline. The constitutions must be ready by August 6. At least that is what the law calls for. Nonetheless, the work is tenuous and slow. There are very few commissions ready with their texts.

The commission which is supposed to come up with the 'vision' of the country is having very public problems. The members cannot agree on whether Bolivia should be a multinational or a multicultural country. That is why there are basically two very different proposals. The commision is supposed to present two proposals, one belonging to the relative majority and the other to the minority. After the votes were counted at the time of approval, the opposition (Podemos, MNR and others) complained that MAS, which has a relative majority, concocted a scheme to leave the opposition's proposal out of consideration. Allegedly, MAS and its allies drafted two proposals, and presented them as two separate groups, one with enough votes to call it majority and the other with enough votes to be called minority. Apparently, the two proposals are remarkably similar.

It is for that reason that this commission is making headlines. The opposition is very angry because they feel they were left out. They are even threatening with legal action if they are not taken into account. As a result, the work of this commission has been put into doubt. Will it finish its work on time? The MAS says yes, the opposition cries foul!

But, what is wrong with a multinational country? Apparently nothing, other than at the same time Bolivia will be defined as a unitary country. These two definitions seem to be in contradiction. How can a Unitary country be multinational? Specially problematic is if we consider that Bolivia is already a pretty decentralized country. Additionally, let's assume decentralization is reverted (any law can be reverted, right?). There is not doubt that there will be autonomic regions, departments, nations, tribes, etc., etc., etc. We know that because there is a commission working on the issue of autonomy as well.

Also, what is wrong with multicultural. It is a concept that encompasses diversity, period. Multicultural and autonomous does not contradict each other.

June 21, 2007

Evo Morales in Democracy Now

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Just found this interview of Evo Morales by Democracy Now on September 22, 2006.

Terrible translation, if you watch the 50 min. video, concentrate on Morales and forget about the translator.

Also, I find a contradiction between Morales interpretation of what he calls the "indigenous culture" and reality. To contrast what he says read the book by Daniel Goldstein, The Spectacular City.

June 20, 2007

Bolivia Update: Things Are Heating Up

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Update 1: Under this link you'll find the source of discord. This is the text the commission on vision of a country came up with. It's in Spanish.

This is the Bolivian Democratic Autonomic Junta, the group leading the autonomic effort in Bolivia. It is made up of the Prefects (departmental heads of governments) Ernesto Suárez (Beni), Leopoldo Fernández (Pando), Mario Cossío (Tarija) and Rubén Costas (Santa Cruz), as well as the civic committees from each department, other civic organizations and some indigenous groups. At the center is Rubén Costas.

The Junta decided, yesterday, June 19, to move from a 'state of emergency' to a 'state of mobilization', whereby it called on to all their supporters to start acting "in defense of democracy". The Junta is vehemently against the government's proposal to bring autonomy to the indigenous territories. According to the Junta, Bolivia will end up with 36 territories and 42 regions. This would lead to a brake up of Bolivian territory. Leaders also accuse the government of implementing its policy to cope power and become authoritarian (as with Venezuela or Cuba, for example).

The decisions taken in this occasion do not bode well, neither with the government nor with the military. For the first time in a long time, the military voiced its concern with such calls. The commander in chief, General Wilfrido Vargas, stopped short of condemning these acts, and said that the military WILL defend the UNITY of the country.

The Junta wants to start its mobilization next July 7, and on July 2 it wants to put forward its proposal for autonomy.

June 17, 2007

Tempers Are Once Again Rising in Bolivia: Short Update

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Tempers are once again flaring in Bolivia, and the temperature is once again rising. The problems seem to come from all fronts. I can only imagine how does Morales' day start.

First, and foremost, the Constituent Assembly is currently deliberating (rather fiercely debating) the new text. There are deep divisions and bitter arguments. One argument that is making national news is the proposal of the security commission. They (former policemen), have put forward a text where they seem to make the police force the guardian of the constitution. This does not sit well with the Army, which has traditionally been the jealous guardian of the constitution. Now, the Army has spoken against this text and have warned they will not let it stand. Considering Bolivia's history, that is a warning to take note.

Over in the vision of country commission, tempers are really flaring. Physical confrontations were the result of a dispute among the two opposing factions. MAS, had approved a portion of a text defining Bolivia as a plurinational nation. The opposition does not agree with this definition and are complaining about the tricks used by MAS to approve this motion with simple majority, rather than absolute majority, as it was accorded before.

On another flank, proposals by the commission on education have sparked violent university students protest. The proposal would give the control of the universities to social organizations. Bolivian universities, up to now, autonomous entities, have reacted strongly. They are reluctant to loose that autonomy, which was not easy to win.

Those are just a few of the problems from recent weeks.

June 15, 2007

The 'Vision' of MAS, in English

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Federico Fuentes, at Bolivia Rising, has taken the trouble of translating part of the report issued by MAS about its 'vision' of a country. The translation is commendable because it helps bring, in great detail, what does MAS mean when it says: "we want to re-found Bolivia".

To read the post, visit Bolivia Rising....

June 10, 2007

Bolivia's Plan for Development

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Many of you might have 'heard' me, many times, that I could not find anywhere in the net the government's plan of action. Recently, however, I found the web page for the Ministry for Development Planning. In this page I did find the document (click on Plan Nacional de Desarrollo) I was looking for. It outlines Morales' plans and policies for development. The document discusses the government's conception of development and what kind of country should be constructed.

Furthermore, the document explains the policies the current government is following to address the issues of health, social security, communal development, education, justice, citizen security, national defense, culture, basic needs, international relations, foreign policy, economic policy and more.

My first impression is that the plan, on the one side, is conceptually loaded. On the other side, it has some practical policies for development. This post is FYI. Enjoy the read.

PS: I am constantly finding new websites, which I think the Bolivian government is creating as soon as it can. Some are really useful. As usual, I place them in my links section under Bolivian Government. Don't forget to take a look.

June 08, 2007

A First Proposal for a Constitution

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The self denominated Pact for Unity (Pacto por la Unidad), which includes several indigenous organizations have put forward their proposal for a constitution. On May 23, these organizations met in Sucre where they debated and came up with the text.

The text is in Spanish and 65 pages long, so I won't even try to translate. :-) However, those who are interested can take a look at it here.

My first impression, it is evident that it comes from the indigenous organizations. It has a very strong ethnic component. It should be a good basis for drawing up the one which will include everyone.

International Consultants in the Morales Government

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FYI: It is not new that governments employ foreign consultants to give them advice. Here is a graph showing some of the consultants in the Morales government who have or are working with it.

Notice the amount of Spaniards and Argentineans working (worked) with the government. A conspicuous absence of Venezuelans is also to note.

June 06, 2007

New Link on Bolivia

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I just found this place with information on Bolivia, in Spanish. I found this map, which graphically shows the lack of infrastructure, namely roads. It is an interactive graph. Just click on the link that reads "caminos" and you'll be able to see how 'well' connected, by land that is, Bolivia is. If the map is accurate, you'll be able to appreciate one of the many major objectives to work on.

June 04, 2007

Nobody Died From Playing Soccer at 3600 Meters

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As reported everywhere now, the FIFA has banned international soccer matches at high altitudes (2,500 metres (8,200 feet)). I concur with my fellow blogger in this opinion. Miguel, from Pronto*, has said it best: "...And, yes, soccer is in large part a game of playing in adverse conditions & trusting in fate (so playing in altitude shouldn’t “matter”)."

Personally, I also think it shouldn't matter. Players should have the physical ability and condition to withstand these matches. I think Miguel is right when he points out that, "There’s no doubt that FIFA is notoriously corrupt." Pressures and other factors have long played a role in FIFA's decisions. I also tend to agree with Miguel when he says that the matches can be played in Santa Cruz or Cochabamba, for that matter. Why not? Why should La Paz have that honor to itself? (note: I am paceno).

However, it is a matter of principle in this case. I think the decision is discriminating and should be overruled. That is why I am joining the campaign La Razon and other newspapers have started. The goal is to send 1 million letters to Mr. Blatter to let him know it is not right. You just have to sign the letter and send it!