February 29, 2008

In Bolivia, Canaval is Over. Now, Business as Usual.

MABB © ®

Now that Christmas, Alasaitas and Carnaval are over, it is business as usual in Bolivian Politics. It seems that the crisis is hitting back with vengeance.

What's going on?

Well, the government has apparently gotten tired of talking and has decided to "push" through its will. Yesterday, the government faction in Congress "approved" three laws, with the help of a ring of security supporters outside the parliament building. Opposition parliamentarians could not enter the building. So, the government approved the referendum law which will ratify the new constitution, the referendum law which will ask people on how large the property of land can be and modified a law which was being interpreted by the departmental governments giving them power to call for referendums. The modification of the last law, of course, is giving the central government the exclusive power to call on such referendums.

As you might expect, the opposition is going ahead with their own autonomic referenda. All of these are supposed to happen on May 4th. The opposition has also said, in unison, that they will resist the government to the last consequences. Here comes the question: violence too?

In Cochabamba, the police force is on strike. They want better wages and work conditions. Usually, when the police strikes, is when Bolivia enters dark periods. The security is just not there, and many people have no scruples on taking advantage of that.

Also, there is shortage of food, especially in La Paz. The government is trying import basic foods, such as flower, but smugglers and hoarders are making the government's plans to fail. The government is trying to crack down on smugglers, but without much success. It is also trying to control prices. Now, the bakers are in a strike and are refusing to make the basic bread in La Paz, the Marraqueta. This has been a very effective way of pressure because Marraquetas are the very basic food in La Paz and the rest of the country.

Slowly but surely, marches, demonstrations and strikes are returning to be the order of the day. hard times are coming. We'll just have to stay alert.

6 comments:

galloglass said...

Miguel: I read that Evo signed a decree soon afterwards that bans the autonomy votes on May 4th. I'll try and find the source.

Anonymous said...

Same song...

How much time before strikes and violence starts again? Two months?

miguel said...

The troubles are due to start in the next weeks.

Frank_IBC said...

Where can I read more about the food shortages in La Paz, Miguel?

If Morales is the one alleging that these shortages are caused by "smugglers and hoarders", I find that extremely disturbing - another parallel to Mugabe and Chavez.

miguel said...

La Razon has been reporting a lot about it lately. But, you are going to have to do a search over the recent weeks or go back on the archive (which can be pretty slow).

But, a direct association has not been made. It is more like the government has targeted smugglers to show its fighting stance.

As far as that happening in Venezuela, I am not surprised. Any time import goods are controlled, they tend to rise in price due to hoarding.

Gringo said...

Yesterday, the government faction in Congress "approved" three laws, with the help of a ring of security supporters outside the parliament building. Opposition parliamentarians could not enter the building.

So much for democracy and the will of the people, Evo-style. It's as if Natusch Busch never went away.