September 23, 2008

The Siege to Santa Cruz

MABB © ®

The siege to the city of Santa Cruz is reaching high levels of tension. This siege was put into place by MAS supporters in order to pressure the opposition into an agreement. It consists of road blockades and a gradual march into the city center. As you can see in the below La Razon graph, the blockades close almost all access roads in and out of the city. So far there are no official numbers, but leaders say there are around 20 thousand people and the goal is to increase this number to 50 thousand. The people are armed, not only with sticks, stones and metal bars, but also with fire guns. Old, but functioning, I guess.

This is the latest government strategy to pressure the opposition into an agreement. The people are there with government consent. Interior Minister Rada said there are no plans for the police to intervene.

This is the kind of strategy Bolivia doesn't need at this moment. The government seems to want to bully the opposition into signing the proposal it laid on the negotiating table last weekend. As expected, the opposition did not accept and has now decided to ask for more time.

In the same manner that the opposition managed to bring the government in to the negotiating table. That is, staging those violent demonstrations and the occupation of public buildings, the government now wants to force an agreement by closing up the city of Santa Cruz.

One doesn't need to be a rocket scientist to know this way of negotiating will not work.

See below links to some international reactions:

South American leaders to meet on Bolivia crisis
Reuters via Yahoo! News Mon, 22 Sep 2008 3:14 PM PDT
Leaders from several South American nations will meet in New York this week to discuss resolving the political crisis in impoverished Bolivia, Chilean Foreign Minister Alejandro Foxley said on Monday.

After Violence, U.S. Role in Bolivia Questioned via Yahoo! News Mon, 22 Sep 2008 4:21 PM PDT
NEW YORK, Sep 22 (OneWorld) - As tensions remain high between government and opposition in Bolivia, where more than 30 people have been killed in politically motivated attacks in recent days, a group of Latin America experts are calling for Washington to clarify its engagement in the internal affairs of Bolivia.

U.S. Diplomat Tells Why He Was Ousted From Bolivia
Newsweek Mon, 22 Sep 2008 3:10 PM PDT
Q&A: An ousted U.S. diplomat says that Bolivia and other Latin American countries are distancing themselves from the direction that the rest of the world is taking.

LDS missionaries leave Bolivia
Deseret Morning News Mon, 22 Sep 2008 4:36 PM PDT
The LDS Church announced Tuesday that some 102 North American missionaries serving in Bolivia have been transferred to Peru in the wake of political unrest within the Bolivian government.

Burton battles to box out Bolivia
The Herald-Press Mon, 22 Sep 2008 10:27 AM PDT
Congressman Dan Burton (R-Indiana) issued the following statement recently asking his colleagues in the House of Representatives to refuse extending the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) exclusively to the county of Bolivia while continuing the ATPDEA program to the countries of Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador.