Wry Exchange

Bolivia in the News
09-11-08, 2:23 pm
Filed under: Culture, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: , ,

 Bolivia hasn’t been in the news much lately.  That’s changed this week.  Morales has declared the US Ambassador “persona non grata” and ordered him expelled from the country.  The charge is ‘supporting the opposition.’  Ambassador Phillip Goldberg was accused of ‘conspiring against democracy.’  (This from a president who wants to steal distribute land to poor people.)

Santa Cruz is all fired up again.  The Federal government wants a lot of the gas tax money from the state.   The state thinks they should have more of a voice in how the money is spent. Cruceños broke into a regional tax office,  government run ENTEL phone company, and a government run television station.  As always, the opposition wants greater autonomy and more control over spending the natural gas income.  Morales wants to give more money and land to the poor indigenous people.  What one side calls ‘land reform’ the other side calls ‘theft.’  Racial conflicts are a big part of the problem, too.  The poor indigenous population is uneducated, supports Morales, and outnumbers the educated citizens of Santa Cruz who are of mixed race.

I have three students in Santa Cruz this year.  I’ve spoken to two parents in the last day reassuring them their children are fine.  The kids are with savvy, well-connected families who understand the problems and will protect them if needed.  My kids don’t understand Bolivian Spanish that well yet; they don’t get the nuances of conversation or news reports.  (Bolivian television news isn’t sanitized like it is in the states.  If there is a traffic accident, they’ll show the victims and pieces parts, not bodies covered by a blanket.)  My kids called their parents to tell them not to worry, so of course the parents are worrying.

If all hell would break loose, my students would be evacuated to Chile.  They’d be driven over the border.  I don’t think it will come to that.  I think this is just another flare-up and posturing.


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