June 22, 2008

The Autonomic Referendum in Tarija

MABB © ®

The autonomic referendum in Tarija is underway as I type these lines. So far there are no reports of violence, other than road blocks in and around the towns of Yacuiba and Bermejo. The blocks however, are not necessarily and/or exclusively related to MAS supporters. The problem in Yacuiba is twofold. The first problem arises from the MAS supporters refusing to allow the vote to take place in the town. The second problem arises from the discrepancy with the prefectural government. The town wants (and has, last weekend) to elect its own head of the local government, and the Prefecture does not want to recognize this. In fact last weekend, the town elected Marcial Rengifo as the town's new head of local government, known as Subprefecto. This vote has its own problems, because it was not organized by the regional electoral agency, but then again, similar problems has todays referendum. So, intead of delving into details, I will limit myself to just reporting the facts.

As I said, I have not hear of any significan violence, much like in Santa Cruz, going on and so far even the in the problem towns the vote is taking place.

Yacuiba has been however the center of news these last weeks. Just yesterday there was an bomb attack on the offices of the local Channel 4 (Red Unitel). To the detriment of the central government, which was busy acusing two young men of trying to assassinate the President, the perpetrators of the bombing got into a car accident as they tried to get away. According to reports, one of them escaped, while the driver was found unconcious behind the wheel. The police, after investigating, found the car loaded with weapons, munitions, and other materials which indicated they could be used to cause material damages. In addition, the driver "confessed" that he set up the bomb, that he worked in the Office of the Presidency, and that he was there accompanied with a busload of young people from the Santa Cruz Plan 3000 neighborhood. The latter is a neighborhood where Morales and MAS has majority support. On top of that, one reporter from La Razon, called the Office of the Presidency confirming thus the alleged perpetrator worked there.

At the same time, and as I reported last week, the miners in Potosi are increasing their violent acts to force the government to exempt them from making them pay taxes. Yesterday, they have attacked various local government buildings, including the offices of the regional electoral court, the Prefecture building and the offices of the tax agency. They occupated the offices of the regional electoral court and detonated dynamite destroying its facade; they vandalized many offices in the Prefecture and they burned offices in the local tax agency's building.