November 26, 2005

Short Brake

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Starting Sunday, I will take a short brake from Blogging. I will be in Toulouse for about a week. No work, just relaxing.

I will resume posting as soon as I get back.

See you in a week. :-)

Btw, that in the picture is the famous Bolivian beer, Pacena. Thanks to jenifrog's flickr stream.

November 25, 2005

The Chavez Connection

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As recent as two days ago, the Chavez government machinery has managed to include itself in the electoral debate in Bolivia. Chavez has been very keen on remaining a pivotal issue, not just in Bolivia, but in all Latin America. It seems that when there is no relevant chance to make the newspapers, he chooses to pick fights such as the one he recently picked with Vicente Fox.

Chavez's plans include Bolivia. Rather shall I say, Bolivia's natural gas reserves are the important piece in his plans. One part of those plans is to build a pipeline from Venezuela to Argentina, to make sure Kirchner has enough energy. For that, Kirchner is showing his greatfulness!

A commentary from El Pais says: "So gaudy is the decor with which the inventor of a new and undefined Bolivarian revolution surrounds himself, that it is hard to see what middle-term advantages, other than oil favors, Buenos Aires can obtain from this association with Caracas. Luiz Inácio da Silva, who came to the presidency of Brazil with better left-wing credentials than Néstor Kirchner, is treating the embryonic alliance with great caution, smiling toward Bush every time he has his photo taken with Hugo Chávez."

Chavez's real plans are to use the Bolivian natural gas reserves, the second largest in Latin America after Venezuela's, to expand its geopolitical influence. Chavez can effectively, for the moment, rely on the US$60 a barrel oil prices to push for his agenda in Latin America. Additionally, Chavez is counting on the upcoming and pretty busy electoral schedule in Latin America. According to a report from the Herald, at least 11 elections in the region are to be carried out between end 2005 and 2006.

(graph from The Economist)Chavez is expecting that the majority of these elections go his way. That way he would consolidate his influence if the governments turn out to the left, as the Latin American trend has been in recent times.

If these were the results, the Bolivarian Republic would have won an important battle and would be a step closer to realization. At least, that is how I would tend to see it.

November 24, 2005

Corruption Measured

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Here is a hot button for me, corruption. This time there was a very interesting report of a courruption study publshed by La Razon.



The report says that the level of bribes in Bolivia is roughly equal to half the budget deficit, 25% of government investment, 5% of exports, and about half of what Bolivia owes to the IMF. The study measures the cost of corruption to Bolivian households. Furthermore, the average Bolivian spent around Bs$400 (US$50) a year.

However, what the report forgets to mention is that the cost to Bolivian households represented by these quoted amounts, represent at the same time income for some of the same households and by virtue of taxes, is also income for the government. How's that!

November 22, 2005

Fresh Polls

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Here is a table, I hope you like. Fresh polls indicating a lead by Evo Morales, but being very closely followed by Jorge Quiroga. From this picture, one can see that Samuel is not that irrelevant. The table brakes the polls by department.

The source is the television network PAT and the company conducting the study is Grupos Mori. I found the data in the Bolivia.com site, but created the table myself.

In the blank-don't know-other column you can include the undecided and the supporters for other candidates, such as MNR's Michiaki Nagatani.

National Poll by Red PAT

National Results


Evo Morales

Jorge Quiroga

Samuel Doria

Blank-Don’t Know-Other


33%

27%

12%


Per Department

La Paz

51%

18%

9%


Oruro

40%

19%

8%

23%

Potosi

30%

28%

8%

16%

Cochabamba

40%

24%

7%

7%

Sucre

19%

34%

15%


Tarija

10%

52%

14%

9%

Santa Cruz

16%

33%

21%

12%

Beni

11%

36%

9%

27%

Pando

19%

45%

15%

10%

What is interesting to note when looking at Morales' numbers is that they decrease geographically from West to East. Strongholds are La Paz, Oruro, Potosi and Cochabamba, but still in the double digits in the rest of the departments. Quiroga's numbers reveal two weaknesess. First, Cochabamba, his hometown, shows pretty weak numbers for him compared to Morales' numbers. Second, I would have expected Quiroga to do better in Santa Cruz. I think, Doria is taking votes away from Quiroga. Strongest supports are Tarija and Pando. Doria hasn't been able to capture more votes. He's been polling in the same range consistently. His best numbers and stongholds are Santa Cruz, Sucre, Pando and Tarija.

One interesting feature from this table is that there seems to be a good chunk of votes up for grabs in Beni and Oruro. Not sure why. Anyone?

Also, according to the report, the way things are looking, Podemos is set to get 15 senators, MAS will get 9, UN will get 2 and MNR will get 1. Assuming Podemos, UN and MNR make up a government alliance, that would give 18 senators for the government and 9 for the opposition.

I'd like to see the reaction of MAS if the elections don't come out the way they think they will.

Update: I just wanted to place the same poll but from different medium (La Razon). We got the like thanks to Alvaro.

We can compare and perhaps see what difference does it make the medium of publication.



Bolivia, Chile and the Sea: The Ever Lasting Cycle

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There is a very discernable pattern to observe when it comes to the issue of sea access for Bolivia. For starters, I am sure you know that Bolivia lost its sea shores in the 1879 Pacific War. This war confronted Bolivia and Chile, where in the end, Chile gained not just Bolivian territory but Peruvian as well. More recently, the two countries have not had official diplomatic relations since the seventies. Throughout this time, Chile and Bolivia have, nevertheless, sought to look for a solution. This is the pattern I am talking about.

It starts with some sort of conflict arising. First, the media starts speaking of meetings between high official from both governments. Then both governments start making statements. On the Bolivian side, this last time, the media started quoting high Chilean officials as saying that their government would meet with the Bolivian government to speak about the issue, and later about ceding sea access.

Then Peru stick its nose in the middle and usually say or does something that scares Chile. More negotiations follow and then the traditional "hug" happens (between Bolivia and Chile). And last comes the hammer: Chile categorically discards giving Bolivia any access to the sea.

How do you like that?

(it sould be taken with a bit of humor :-))

The links reflect this month's Bolivian activity sparked by the controversial law passed by the Peruvian Congress. Sorry, it is all in Spanish.

November 19, 2005

Bolivian Elections: The Inevitable Outcome

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As I have been saying since many months now (no prediction, no foretelling, no divination, just plain observation) the Bolivian elections are on track and headed toward its inevitable outcome. The outcome will be that Jorge Quiroga and Evo Morales will face-off in Congress, as the Constitution clearly states. It will be there where the new president of Bolivia will be elected.

So, as one could expect and as the elections aproach on December 18, the topic of the exchange between the candidates is slowly changing to include speculations about who will ally with who. The press and many analysts speculated that an alliance between Jorge Quiroga and Samuel Doria would be natural. The most important aspect supporting this speculation is that both of them are pretty much in the same area of the political spectrum. Whereas, an alliance between Evo Morales and Samuel Doria would not be easy to put together and much less would be a MAS-Podemos alliance. In this context, Doria has become a very important player. Everyone is looking for a signal showing with which political party will UN go to government to.

In recent times, though, I have observed Samuel Doria leaning more towards the left rather than the right. For example, Samuel has been talking about nationalizing Bolivia's natural resources and the redistribution of land. These outbursts of Samuel, I attributed them to his party's efforts to attract more votes. However, these comments opened the, small but much real possibility, of Samuel forming an alliance with Evo, thus enabling Evo to become president. It is not crazy to consider an outcome like this. I think it would do wonders for Samuel's party in terms of support and legitimacy. But, he must have different poll numbers than me because, recently he came out and rules an alliance with Evo Morales right out. He said "I will not make any deal with Evo".

Today, Samuel and his vice-president, Carlos Dabdoub, came out again and made more of these absolute statements, which I think they will have to "eat" after December 18. The press quoted Dabdoub as saying "UN will not vote neither for Podemos nor for MAS in case it comes out third". Samuel is convinced, at least for now, that Quiroga and Morales are polarizing the country and that UN will be government. In his oppinion this polarization is not good for Bolivia. So naturally, he offers an alternative.

In essence, the refusal of Samuel Doria not to commit to an alliance with any of the leading parties could potentially result in a new Congressional crisis because it would be impossible to elect a new president. This deadlock would be desastrous for the country. However, it is too early to speak of crisis or deadlock. I am assuming that Samuel is being a good democrat and he is fighting for every single vote he can get out there. His seemingly inflexible position might be a strategy to gain voters. After all, as candidate, one must project decisiveness and conviction on one's candidacy. He must think, these comments are helping him gain votes. Deep down, Doria thinks (has to think) he has a chance at the presidency. Nonetheless, I would expect him to eat his words and pick a side after the elections. One thing is clear, he will come out being the most important person in the aftermath of the elections.

Now, one more speculation. Let's not count Samuel out of the presidency just yet. What happens if there is really a deadlock in Congress?, and MAS and Podemos, both need Samuel to make a majority. Assuming Samuel hangs on to his pants long enough, if there is no consensus in Congress on whether Evo or Tuto should be the next president, a different solution could involve Samuel as president as consensus candidate. I don't remember well, but I think this has happened when Paz Zamora became president. Now, for that to happen many things have to come together. One, MAS and Podemos cannot make a grand alliance (more or less proven). Two, there has to be a deadlock in Congress. Three, UN has to hold on and not budge in. Four, pressure has to be tremendous on Congress (time must run out). Five, UN's votes have to be a significant number. Six, MAS and Podemos have to ceede their polarizing positions and agree for a neutral one. What I am saying is, if the conditions are right and Samuel plays his cards well, he could end up sitting in the presidency and not Evo or Tuto.

While it is almost certain that Quiroga and Morales will face-off in Congress to see who gets the presidency, the decision is practically in Doria's hands. Samuel Doria will be the "president maker". He's unique position gives him the power to choose the next president of Bolivia. Unless, of course, he decides to make himself president. Then, all bets are off. But, before any of the above happens, we have to get to December 18 and see the Bolivian people go to vote. These elections have to be clean and legitimated. After that happens, we can start speculating all we want about what alliance will be formed.

November 17, 2005

The First Bolivian Bloggers "Summit"

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Why not? It was comming. It was only a matter of time until the first Bolivian bloggers meeting was going to happen. Well, it's here and it's called:


Yes, Pacenas, Fricachos and Blogs is an initiative of two, by now old time, Bolivian bloggers, Carlos Quintanilla of El Quintacho y su rincon and Rolando Lopez author of Rocko. These two currently live in La Paz and thought of giving birth to perhaps something that could turn into a yearly event, the way it is already in other countries.

The plan is tentative and seeks to meet, somewhere in La Paz, the last Saturday of November. I guess more details will come later. The topics will of course be blogging and the sharing of ideas about it. As an additional topic the bloggers will discuss the creation of cultural campaigns, such as the Liberation of Books campaign started by mundo al revez and of which Carlos also actively participated.

A brief explanation of the name for the meeting. Pacena is a pilsner beer brewed in Bolivia. It is one of the best tasting beers in Bolivia. Fricacho or Fricase comes from the french Fricasse and is a fricase of pork meat with potatoes and white giant corn. It is very spicey and could potentially bring people from the brain dead state.

So, we'll be looking out for the event and the report of how did it go and what was talked about. Don't forget to take lots of pictures guys!

November 16, 2005

Revolution Through Elections

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Alvaro Garcia Linera and Evo Morales Aima, vice- and president candidates for MAS in the December 18 general elections in Bolivia, are leading what seems to be a revolution through elections. A revolution, because they pretend to radically change the nature of the Bolivian state. And, so far it is being done with in the framework of democratic principles, like elections.

There are four main objectives in the plans of MAS to re-make Bolivia. The first objective is to get to become government. So far, MAS is trying the democratic way. Morales and Garcia are participating in the general elections, where they have a good chance to win the popular vote. However, Morales and Garcia have been making very unsettling comments regarding their chances to win. Both, vice-president and president candidates seem to be using scare tactics to influence people to support them in the elections. They have been quoted calling their supporters (specially in El Alto and the aymara towns in El Altiplano where most of the demonstrators come from) to rise up to defend a MAS victory at the ballot boxes. Esentially, Garcia has called for an armed struggle to make sure MAS is government after the elections. Of course, later the comments are tamed by Garcia when asked about them by the press. But, the comments and the message is already given.

Since MAS is expecting a first place in the outcome, it is taking for granted that Morales and Garcia will become government. The threats are in case they come first place and through negotiation among the forces in Congress the second or third place winners are elected president. This situation is very common in Bolivian elections. In such case, one can expect trouble coming from MAS supporters.

The second objective, once MAS is in government, will be to re-invent a new country by convening to a Consituent Assembly as soon as possible. This assembly will become the single most important issue after the elections. I expect also, it will become the instrument of discord among the different regions in Bolivia. Simply because the idea of a nation state is so different among them. The widest differences are between the MAS and the Santa Cruz civics.

How will this new state will look like? are the third and fourth objectives. For one, MAS wants to detract completely from a free market economy or what they call a neo-liberal economy. So the basic law giving birth to the free market economy in Bolivia, the law number 21060 will for sure be scraped from the books. What kind of economy does MAS intends to place instead? I am not really sure. I have not seen any details on this topic. The fourth objective is the nationalization of the natural resources. I have also not seen details on this plan, but I have heard some comments. It seems that MAS would nationalize the resources but would stop short of confiscating private property from the big companies. It seems that MAS does realize it cannot isolate itself as a country. But, one thing I am sure, MAS is thinking of its frienship with Chavez and his petrodollars to give him an initial push. Also, MAS must be thinking about China becoming a more important player, since China wants to.

Whether or not MAS winns the elections, I would be willing to bet that it will make a serious attempt to become government. That is, even using force. If I were in Bolivia, I would be taking Morales and Garcia at their word. Since, as we have seen, these two individuals have a proven record of going at it by any means.

November 15, 2005

Latest Poll

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IPSOS Captura has published its latest poll numbers last Monday. In them, it reports that Evo Morales leads the polls with 30.7 percent support and Jorge Quiroga closely follows with 28.7 percent. Businessman Samuel Doria Medina lags with 13.9 percent. These results show a seemingly neck-to-neck race between Evo Morales and Jorge Quiroga.

However, according to La Razon, the real winner is Jorge Quiroga. The IPSOS report shows that Quiroga has the lead in six of the nine deprtments, as follows: Quiroga leads in Beni with 37.5 percent vs. 9.4 percent for Morales; in Chuquisaca (Sucre) Quiroga scores 37.5 pecent, that would be 10.8 percentage points more than Morales; in Pando, Quiroga has 60.7 percent of the vote, while Morales has 13.4 percent; in Potosi, Quiroga again scores 36.3 percent, which represents 11.3 points more than Morales; in Santa Cruz, Quiroga has a lead where he has 33.8 percent, leading MAS with 20 percentage points and UN by 7.3; in Pando, Quiroga has a commanding lead of 51.6 percent, which represent 37.5 percentage points over Morales.

Morales, in turn, leads Quiroga in La Paz by 29.2 percentage points; in Cochabamba with 33 percent and Oruro with 36.5 percent.

All this means that Evo Morales has a lead in the national polls, but Jorge Quiroga has the real chances of becoming the next president of Bolivia. According to the La Razon article, Quiroga's leads in the particular departments will give him a majority in the upper chamber, the Senate. The Senate has 27 members, three per department. If Quiroga carries six of those, then he ends up with 18 Senators. That would represent a majority in the 27 member chamber. The calculations are not that easy in the lower chamber due to the proportional representation rules.

Sources: AP, La Razon, El Deber, Los Tiempos.

Addition1: See, this is what's good about the blogsphere. One can get a discussion going, even if it is not on the same place. Here is another perspective by boz on the polls released by IPSOS. It is a must read!

Addition2: Ciao! has thrown his insighful oppinion on the topic. Read it here.

November 13, 2005

Samuel: I Will Not Make Any Deal With Evo

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People who know the new president of Bolivia will be elected in Congress are constantly observing signs showing the possible alliances to emerge after the elections. I, for one, haven't seen any, until now.

This interview published in La Razón gives a clear sign that Samuel Doria Medina of UN has no intention of joining Evo in a new government.

Samuel directs most of his criticism towards Tuto quiroga. He argues that Tuto has never and will never be in the center-left. He says that Tuto's words are just words. One of the questions is whether he will form an alliance with Evo to govern. Samuel answers that is a dirty trick from Tuto who is spreading that lie to scare udecided voters. Samuel believes he will be government and clearly discards an alliance with Evo and MAS to form a government. His position towards Evo is to "block the blocker". That is, to block Evo Morales from getting to the presidency in the elections with the vote.

In my opinion these might be words Samuel might have to eat once the elections are over. Realistically looking at UN's position, the only way this party would get to government is in alliance with one of the aforementioned parties, Podemos or MAS. And, if he is so quick to write off a possible alliance with MAS, will he then consider an alliance with Tuto? That is the pressing question.

In recent times, I have seen Samuel getting closer and closer to MAS, rather than Podemos. For once, he is advocating the nationalization of the natural resources. A thing that Tuto is not. At least, not in the same sense as Evo. But, somehow Samuel's rethoric does not make sense. He comes from a business background, he owns one of the biggest industries in Bolivia. He has to be business friendly. It is his livelihood. He says he is for the small entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs only trhive in a business friendly environment. There are many questions still that Samuel has to make clear. His project is not really clear and does not offer many insights on the details.

But, the relevant question still is with whom will Samuel find more things in common? Who'll be his preference for an alliance? He is an important man.

Musical Meme

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Once every so often one of these comes around. This time is a meme about music, elegantly passed on by Mariana Ruiz, from Marea y Cielo. The idea is simple. Just have to list, alphabetically, pieces of music I like. What I'll do is to list what I am currently listening.

However, many of you who visit MABB for a longer time would know that I used to highlight Bolivian blogs. I haven't done this for some time. Now, I want to take this opportunity to suggest a visit to Mariana's blog. Marea y Cielo is an interesting addition to the Bolivian blogsphere. Well, it is an excellent addition to the literary kind. Those visitors who would want to experience a bit of poetry and literature coming directly from Bolivia will do well in visiting Mariana. Her stories are thought provoking and well written. And if that were not enough, she also has some skill with the camera. On her flickr account she posted some interesting photographs where she shows here ability to play with shadows and light.

Since I am already doing this let me suggest other blogs that I read as well: De Reojo (Pablo Mendieta); Rocko; Su Vida; and if you want to really get into the Bolivian blogsphere there is now a blog dedicaded to provide links to all these blogs, Blogs de Bolivia.

Naturally, the majority of these blogs are written in Spanish. But, for those English speaking visitors who are learning Spanish or already speak Spanish, a visit to this blog is well worth the time. You don't only practice your reading and learn more vocabulary, but you also get a glimpse into the Bolivian culture.

Here we go:

a: Aerosmith
a: Astor Piazzola
c: Creedence Clearwater Revival
d: Dean Martin
e: Evanescence
f: Frank Sinatra
g: Good Charlotte
l: La Oreja de Van Gogh
l: Luis Miguel
j: Juan D'Arienzo
m: Mellencamp, John
n: Nickelback
r: Roberto Goyeneche
r: Ricardo Arjona
t: Tom Jones
s: Sevillanas
u: U2
v: Vives, Carlos

This is harder than I thought! Let's see, who to pass it on? Let me try Alvaro from Off Topic; Nick from Open Veins; and Rocko. Of course, this is entirely optional. There is no obligation to follow. Have fun!

November 10, 2005

MAS and Podemos: Their Proposals

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Here is a rough translation of an article including the interviews La Razon made to the two vice-president candidates from MAS and Podemos. It sheds some more light on what'll it mean if Evo or Tuto become the next president of Bolivia.

On natural gas exports to Chile

MAS says it plans to concentrate on regional markets. That is, selling natural gas reserves to Paraguay and Uruguay and expanding sales to Argentina and Brazil. Also, MAS will continue with the policy of "gas for sea access" when dealing with Chile. That means, only when Bolivia has a sovereign access to the sea through its former territory will the government sell natural gas to Chile and become part of a regional energy integration strategy.

Podemos says it will also follow the "gas for sea access" policy against Chile. If there is no sovereign sea access for Bolivia, a Podemos government will not talk of diplomatic relations with Chile.

The Coca leaf issue

MAS proposes no free cultivation of Coca. It wants to make a study of how much Coca is needed to supply internal traditional use. That study will determine how many hectars will be allowed to be cultivated. At the same time they plan to engage in a crop substitution strategy to deal with the other farmers. MAS also wants to push for the legalization of the Coca leaf worldwide.

Podemos will basically continue with the current policy of 12 thousand hectars allowed to be legally cultivated.

The Blockades issue

The blockades which are the source of instability are the result of social dissatisfaction. MAS intends to deal with this problem by attending to the demands. They plan to make sure there is equality on the distribution of resources, equality between peoples and cultures and employment generation. Alvaro Garcia adds three issues MAS will carefully observe: a new economic model, inclusion of the indigenous population in the decision-making process and deepening of the decentralization process.

Podemos plans to penalize certain actions which interfere in the liberties and rights of the citizens. Additonally, they also propose attention to the demands, a new economic model focused on poverty alleviation and to increase citizen inclusion.

The regional issue

MAS will make it a priority to attend and include all the demands of all the regions and all the social and civic movements.

Podemos, through a two year exercize of conversations with people from all regions, developed a government plan which includes all the most important demands.

(neither party states what those demands are)

The territory or land issue

MAS plans to work on land redistribution. It will confiscate unproductive land (big farms) and will redistribute it to the people who don't have any land. In a MAS government there is no place for huge farms nor for illegal settlements. MAS will continue with the INRA law (current law in charge of land redistribution) and will guarantee social and productive private property.

Podemos plans to also confiscate unproductive land according to the social and economic function of the agent. INRA also plays an important role in applying this policy.

USA or Venezuela

MAS guarantees absolute and total independence of decision making. Good relations with all nations, including USA.

Podemos also guarentees independence and good relations with all nations of the world. Additionally, Podemos would work to provide more support for expats.

The Goni process

MAS will work to bring Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada to justice for the deaths during the October 2003 disturbances. A MAS government would carefully observe the work of the Judicial branch. MAS will also rely on the social movements to observe the Judicial branch.

Podemos plans not to intervene in the judicial process. In essence, it would leave the Judicial branch to carry its work without givernment interference.

The power distribution issue

MAS plans to fill its bureaucratic ranks through merit and tests. There will not be distribution of official posts based on politics. No clientilism.

Podemos proposes the second round elections or respect to the first majority to prevent the distribution of political posts at the time of alliances in parliament. This would prevent that alliances would redistribute embassies and ministries, among other posts. Internally, Podemos will tap into its alliance members to fill posts.

November 08, 2005

Evo y el Pibe

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You know that I like to share with you all not just my opinions and news about Bolivia, but also funny things I find in my roaming around the cyberworld. This time is a cartoon I found in La Razon. Trust me, it's very funny.


For those of you who don't know the background, here is a brief fill in and translation. In the world cup Mexico 1986, the quarter final game Argentina vs England, where Argentina won 2 to 1, Diego Armando "El Pibe" Maradona scored two goals for Argentina. One was the most amazing goal in the history of world Soccer. Maradona advances by himself around several defenders and the goalie and scores. The other goal, as Maradona admits, was scored with his hand as he jumped against Shilton (1,86 mts tall) and, with his hand, slaped the ball over the goalkeeper, without the referees noticing. This second goal has been since then known as "la mano de Dios" or the hand of God. Maradona has admited he intentionally used his hand and he did not regret it. Thanks to that goal, Argentina went on to win the cup. Mexico 86 was dubbed the Maradona show.

At the Anti-Summit of the Americas, this past weekend, Maradona met Evo Morales in the march against Bush. Maradona thanked Evo for supporting the Argentinean nation.

Now, in the cartoon, Diego Maradona asks Evo if he could teach him play the trumpet. If you read this post of mine, you know Evo used to play the trumpet. Evo then answers yes, if Maradona would teach Evo how to pull a "mano de Dios".

November 05, 2005

The Summit of the Americas and the Anti-Summit in Pictures

Thanks to the Yahoo photo stream we can follow the IV Summit of the Americas and the Anti-Summit of the Americas as they happen. The actions is taking place in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

President Bush listening to Hugo Chavez speak during the first meeting of the Summit of the Americas on Saturday, November 4, 2005. Perhaps he is wondering what went wrong.


Hugo Chavez speaking at the meeting on Saturday. Hours before that speech he attended the Anti-Summit of the Americas where he denounced Bush, his policies and his government. This guy is becoming a real problem for the Bush administration.


Diego Armando Maradona y Hugo Chavez in the Anti-Summit. Both uttered harsh criticism against Bush during their demonstration. Maradona has said he hates Bush and if he sees him he would rip his head off. This is a duo who for sure is giving Bush much to think about.


Completing the list of celebrities attending the Anti-Summit, Evo Morales showing his disapproval of President Bush. Barrio Flores has an interesting post on this too.


Here is a visual of how leftist Latin America is becoming. The photo shows the leftist presidents of the Americas. From left to right, Fidel Castro (Cuba), Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), Nestor Kirchner (Argentina), Luis Inacio "Lula" da Silva (Brazil) and Tabare Vazquez (Uruguay). Many are working to add Evo Morales to this list.


President Bush's presence has sparked mass demonstrations (about 40,000 people on Saturday) and violence. People are demonstrating against the Free Trade policies the US government is trying to further. I ask myself, is this representative of what Latin Americans think about free trade?


The Bolivian president, oddly enough, is pictured like no other time, often at the side of President Bush. The usual place for the Bolivian President is besides Peru and on the back row. Is Bolivia gaining presence?


For sure Bush must be asking himself and his staff what is going wrong when it comes to Latin America. It seems that the US government's policies and the government itself is pushing LA towards the left. It is evident that Chavez is having an impact with the money he is getting from high oil prices.



November 03, 2005

Goni Got Served

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Excellent post by Eduardo from Barrio Flores. He describes how Goni got served legal papers in Washington DC. He is being summoned back to Bolivia to testify in the investigation against his government. He is being accused of murdering citizens, of all. Eduardo has a link to a website where pictures of what happened are posted. There is a very expressive photo of Goni at the moment he is being handed the yellow envelope. Very telling. Don't miss it!

November 02, 2005

Elections Are On Again: December 18

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President Rodriguez issued a "special" Supreme Decree to guarantee next December elections. Decree number 28429 establishes the date of the elections (December 18, 2005), provides for the distribution of the Congressional seats and establishes January 23 as inauguration day.

In light of Congress' miserable failure to come up with a compromise to re-distribute the seats according to the Constitution, President Rodriguez took the bull by the horns and did it himself. I have the impression he really doesn't want to be President beyond January 23. El Diario has a nice table showing how the distribution goes. In summary, Santa Cruz got 3 seats more and Cochabamba got one more. La Paz lost two and Oruro and Potosi, each lost one seat.


Distribución de escaños

Departamento

Ant.

Act.

Dif.

La Paz

31

29

-2

Santa Cruz

22

25

+3

Cochabamba

18

19

+1

Potosí

15

14

-1

Oruso

10

9

-1

Chuquisaca

11

11

Tarija

9

9

Beni

9

9

Pando

5

5

Total

130

130





There is a good chance the elections will take place in the said date. The three major candidates have said they will back up Rodriguez's decision. Most importantly, Evo Morales has stopped threatening to go to war (better said, armed conflict) if there were no elections. Moreover, the radicals in El Alto have also said they will not interfere with the elections date.

So, It looks the elections are on. Or not? Well, there is a small chance the Santa Cruz faction files another legal suit to force Congress and the government to give them 4 seats instead of 3. We'll see.