Tag Archives: Bolivia

San Pedro Prison In Bolivia To Be Closed

San Pedro prison in La Paz is famous throughout the world as among the most interesting sights to visit while on a tourist vacation in the capital city. The prison is unique in that tourists can pay bribes to enter, shop at stalls run by the prisoners, stay for dinner inside with the inmates and even purchase some crack, cocaine or marijuana. A British couple were told they could not enter and Matt responded by saying, “what a bummer. This was one of Bolivia’s main attractions. Well, at least let’s take a picture of the gate.” Many Latin American prisons are notorious for violence and fear that result in gang killings and sexual attacks on new prisoners. But, San Pedro is like a small village. Laura Gonzalez, whose husband is a prisoner, expressed regrets at the news of prison changes. “We are very happy here. We have work, we have a home. Outside there is nothing.”

There is something sad when a nation has a prison which offers the only opportunity for many of its people to have work and a home. There is something sad when it is less violent inside than outside the jail. However, the government wants to make clear this prison is a prison. The prison head, Jose Cabrera, let inmates know: “the prisoners have to understand, that this is a penitentiary.”

So, what does the world term the state of Iran?

Bolivian President In Hunger Strike

Bolivian President Evo Morales has undertaken a hunger strike in order to force opposition leaders to support his planned changes in the nation’s electoral law. “Christ gave his life for the poor, and we’re here to give our lives for the poor” was the message sent by by the president to the nation. The opposition fears the changes will strengthen the party of Morales and allow them to get an overwhelming majority in the legislature. Opposition members believe if the changes go through, Morales will be able to obtain a two-thirds majority and do whatever he desires in the legislature.

President Morales has come up with an interesting idea that might well be applied to other world leaders. Imagine if Don Rumsfeld has threatened to stick his head in a barrel of water until terrorists agreed to speak the truth? Or,George Bush could threaten to go on television and speak nonstop for twelve hours, surely, the country would give him whatever he desires to avoid such an event. Sarah Palin could threaten to give her speech about the virtues of small town America for twenty four hours nonstop.

This is definitely an innovative way to get your message across.

Bolivia Hails New Constitution

The people of Bolivia adopted a new Constitution by a vote of 59% to 41% under which the indigenous population of the country secured new rights. President Evo Morales strongly supported the new document despite encountering strong opposition in five of the nine states where the more numerous mestizo and European descended inhabitants rejected his call for equality. “Here begins the new Bolivia,” he said. “Here we begin to achieve true equality.” Even as he spoke leaders of the five states which rejected the Constitution are prepared to oppose the proposed changes which include limits on land ownership and creation of 36 indigenous “nations.” People of indigenous backgrounds will also secure a fixed number of seats in the legislature.

The creation of a nation which contains divergent views can either lead to a new sense of citizenship or a divided land in which violence may well result. Morales is echoing the rhetoric of his friend, Hugo Chavez, which is nice when running for office, but could prove disastrous in governing a nation.

It is time for Morales to achieve his dream of equality, but it must proceed in stages that incorporate divergent views. The United States just elected an African American president as a result of laws, education, and recognition a nation can be diverse, but also united. Can Morales reach out to the opposition and avoid bloodshed?

Russia Courts Bolivia And Challenges US

President Bush has challenged Russia directly by pushing for construction of missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic as well as giving Georgia his unqualified support after their failed invasion of South Ossetia. Prime Minister Putin intends to stick it right back to America by working for close relations with nations like Venezuela and Bolivia. Russia is selling planes to Bolivia as a “first step” in building closer relations. Russian Ambassador to Bolivia, Leonid Golubev, made it even clearer by saying, “we want to show up the United States that Latin America is not their backyard. We also have interests in various spheres, including military ones.”

Although modern Russia is capitalist, its leaders are courting socialist governments in Latin America mainly to make clear to Bush if he wants to exert military pressure on their border, then the same can be done to American borders. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, who has become America’s number one opponent in Latin America, has purchased about four billion dollars worth of military equipment since 2005 from Russia.

Bolivia Confronts New Violence And Unrest

Bolivian President Evo Morales defied right wing opponents by vowing to introduce reforms that are opposed by many in the nation even though there were signs of a possible compromise emerging in the wake of violence that resulted in the death of 26 people. Morales accused his opponents of being against the rights and needs of the Indian majority in the nation. “They are conspiring against us with a fascist, racist coup…Their plan is to topple the Indian. They may topple the Indian but they will never topple the Bolivian people.”

The incident which led to the death of innocent people arose when the opposition regional governor of Pando, Leopoldo Fernandez, had his troops clash with pro-government peasants and the result was the death of many people. Many Indian groups are engaged in protests as part of their demands for a better life and to show support for the Morales government. There was hope earlier in the day, Morales might be willing to compromise and offering to review and discuss the proposed constitutional changes with his opponents, but his fiery speech most probably made that possibility and impossibility. The proposed dialogue for peace has been transformed into a dialogue over death.

Evo Morales might benefit by inviting former South African president, Nelson Mandela, to serve as a consultant on how native people confront a hierarchy in order to avoid violence and destruction. Unfortunately, he leans toward the flamboyant Hugo Chavez rather than the calm analytical thinking Mandela. It is a poor choice for Bolivia.

Evo Morales Wins Bolivian Vote

Bolivian President Evo Morales easily won a recall referendum and promised to press ahead with his plans to nationalize business and to create a socialist centralized state such as exists in Venezuela under his good friend, Hugo Chavez. Morales said he would work to redistribute land and take over large business corporations. “We’re heere to move forward with the recovery of our natural resources, the consolidation of nationalization and the state takeover of companies.” Morales is the first leader of Bolivia who comes from the indigenous majority of the population. However, the voting also witnessed the re-election of regional governors who oppose his reforms and want autonomy for their resource-rich provinces. Each side now believes it has won the support of the people of Bolivia.

If Morales follows through on his program of change and centralization, he is bound to create conditions for civil war. Eastern sections of the country will not stand by idly and allow Morales to take over business and farm operations. There is bound to be fight which might result in open civil war.

There is no question reform is vitally needed in Bolivia but a civil war would tear apart the nation and if Morales won, there would be a mass exodus of skilled people and their money. Hugo Chavez has money to throw around, but that money is not infinite and any sharp decline in oil prices will leave Chavez with promises made that can not be kept. Morales should seek a middle way in which poor people finally attain greater access to wealth, education and power, but not at the expense of tearing apart the nation.

Morales should not ignore what happened to Cuba.

Fragmentation Of Bolivia Accelerates

The region of Santa Cruz in Bolivia represents the more industralized and modern part of the nation. It has a high percent of people who take pride in their European ancestry in contrast to most of Bolivia which contains a high number of those from indgenous heritage. The past weekend, a referendum was held in Santa Cruz which produced an overwhelming majority voting in favor of some form of autonomy from the central government. Reuben Costas, a self proclaimed “governor” of Santa Cruz heralded the vote as representing a blow against the central government of Morales which he believes is attempting to tap the rich resources of the area as part of a plan for redistribution of wealth.

Evo Morles represents an important turning point in the history of Bolivia being the first one of indigenous background to gain the presidency. He most probably made serious tactical mistakes by cozing up to Hugo Chavez of Venezuela who frightens many parts of the Bolivian middle class as well as intellectuals who ware witnessing the growing destruction of democracy in Venezuela. Morales failed to reach out to reasonable elements of the Santa Cruz middle class who were turned off by his rhetoric.

The result is a fragmentation of Bolivia. Morales might well back down from some of his demands and create a new coalition of those supporting some form of redistribution of wealth in Bolivia. It might not be exactly what Morales desires, but it would avoid creating conditions of chaos and disunion. Chavez is not a model who will gather support within the Bolivian middle class.

Bolivia Boils Over In Confusion

Evo Morales, the first indigenous president of Bolivia, hoped his administration would be abl to make serious economic inroads into poverty that besets so many living in poverty. Tomorrow, May 4th was supposed to be the day for constitutional referendum, but voting has been suspended. Instead, the region of Santa Cruz, home to his conservatve opposition, is poised to vote for autonomy from the central government and end the Morales goal for social and economic revolution. Many had hoped Morals would usher in new era in which all sectors of society worked together to revamp the economy and ensure a better life for the poorer component of society, those of indigenous backgrounds. Instead, the nation is being torn to pieces as the more developed Santa cruz region, seeks to gain greater local control over rich resources.

Morales insists the referendum is illegal and has urged a boycott which will only result in an even wider victory majority for conservatives. After the referendum, the conservative oppostion is expected to lclaim the right to control local government, taxes, police and natural resources, but will probably stop short of secession.

Morales may have attempted to go too quickly and ignored the need to seek allies within the ranks of the middle classes and moderates. His flirtation with Hugo Chavez only served to frighten the middle clas which feared Morales would assume a dictatorial attitude similar to that of the Venezuelan president.

Bolivian President Morales Attacks Bush!

Presdient Evo Morales of Bolivia asked his Brazilian counterpart, President Lula da Silva, to intercede on his behalf with President George Bush in order to halt what he claims is an American sponsored campaign in support of Bolivian opposition groups. “There is brazen participation by the U.S. embassy in the organization of the autonomy movment,” according to Morales. Morales accused the United States of providing funding for groups supporting the May 4 referendum organized by the government of the Santa Cruz region whose goal is estalishing autonomy from the central government.

An issue separating the Bolivian people revolves over concern from some elements of Bolivian society that President Morales seeks to impose his political and economic views on areas that are more focused on a capitalist than a socialist belief. Morales represents the emergence of indeigenous groups to leadership in Bolivian society which is a break from the past. Many members of the Bolivian middle class fear Morales will impose a Venezuelan or Cuban style government.

There is no doubt Bolivia is a divided nation in which the underclass lives in poverty and a middle and an upper class enjoys the life style found in more economically developed nations. Isn’t the question how the needs of lower classes can be met without adopting the authoritarian aspects of Veneuzuela or Cuba?

Hugo Chavez Upsets XVII Ibero-American Summit Mteeting

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez created a turmoil at the Ibero-American summit meeting in Chile by proposing drastic changes in Latin American borders. “Bolivia has a right to the sea. You know my position, and we all know the history. Bolivia had access to the sea, and that was just and legitimate.” Bolivia lost the territory in a war with Chile. Chavez also blasted the Summit because of its theme of “social cohesion” claiming that idea was a “very conservative, static concept.” He preferred that the Summit adopt at its theme, “social transformation.”Chilean officials were furious at their guest’s comments pointing out Chile had gotten rid of the dictator, Pinochet, and was in the process of creating a modern democratic society which was also addressing issues of poverty. Chavez was supported by Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua who went further in suggesting the Organization of American States should be replaced with a new organization of Latin American nations that would exclude the United States.

There were several raucous incidents during the meetings. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zaptero was delivering a speech when Chavez interrupted him and began denounced the Spanish leader for taking part in a coup that attempted to overthrow the Venezuelan government. After the fourth interruption, the King of
Spain, Juan Carlos lost his temper and told exclaimed to Chavez, “Why don’t you just shut up?” Midway through a speech by Daniel Ortega, the pro-Chavez supporter, the King stormed out of the meeting. During quieter moments of the meeting, President Bachelet of Chile met with Bolivian leader Evo Morales and she offered to discuss possibilities of finding ways for his nation to get access to the sea.

Chavez is quite testy when it comes to denouncing US imperialism, but appears much quieter when discussion shifts to his efforts to stifle free speech in Venezuela and to allow himself to be president forever.