My name is Miguel A. Buitrago. Welcome to my blog. If you want to know more about me visit my personal website. Thank you! Happy readings!!!

August 31, 2006

Bolivia and Internet TV

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An online TV broadcasting company based in NY, JumpTv, will boradcast Bolivian television. JumpTv especializes in ethnic programs and as of now it has added two of the most viewed Bolivian channels to its programm, the PAT network and Bolivision. The wire from Yahoo Finance reads:

Press Release
Source: JumpTV
JumpTV Signs Partnerships With Two Leading
Bolivian Television Channels

Wednesday August 30, 12:10 pm ET

Bolivisión and Red P.A.T. Join JumpTV's Internet-Television Line-Up
TORONTO--(MARKET WIRE)--Aug 30, 2006 -- JumpTV (AIM: JTV) (TSX:JTV.TO - News) (www.jumptv.com), the world's leading broadcaster of ethnic television over the Internet, announced that it has signed exclusive Internet-broadcast agreements with Red P.A.T. and Bolivisión, two of Bolivia's leading television channels, increasing the number of JumpTV channels from Bolivia to four.


So far, only ATB and Red Uno are part of the package, but according to the company, it should soon be four. The whole package is supposed to cost US$ 9.95, and is mainly aimed at the around 1 million Bolivians living outside Bolivia, mainly in Madrid, Buenos Aires and the Washington DC metro area. Most of these people have broadband access to the net and can probably pay 10 bucks a month to get virtually closer to their country.

August 27, 2006

Bolivian Constituent Assembly: Reports from Sucre

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The Constituent Assembly (CA) has started its work in Sucre. As mentioned in this other post, the main trouble spots are organizational and the nature of the CA. According to last week's deliberations, there was still disagreement on the nature of the CA. The Morales government and its party, MAS, want to declare the CA as originaria (the source of every decision). This would mean that the assembly would be above all the branches of government and even above the laws which provided for its creation (the current Bolivian Constitution and the law convening the CA). Some of the arguments talk about the frame of reference character of the laws, which would allow the assembly to escape its force. Another argument is that the laws have many legal holes thus not being really enforceable. At the same time, the opposition, jumped on the issue going as far as to accusing the government of preparing a Fujimoresque auto-coup-de-etat.

In the days leading up to the weekend there have been news reports talking about a new agreement between the MAS and the smaller parties, such as National Unity (UN) and MNR. The posible agreement would be that the CA could be denominated originaria (or originating) and in exchange the MAS would compromise to respect the three branches of government and that the majority of decisions would use the 2/3 rule. Nonetheless, the decision is still to be made officially and within the sub-commission of conceptualization.

Now, the assembly is still working on defining its internal structure. According to some reports, the basic structure is already in form. There will be sub-commissions for new state; rights and guarantees; organization of the state; other organs of the state; territorial organization, decentralization and autonomy; citizenship and nationality; intercultural education; culture and sports; social development; natural resources; environment; land and territory and rural development; economics and finance; security and national defense; national boundaries, sovereignty, international relations and integration. There will be committees for eithics, constitutional reforms and primacy, final and transitory decisions and for the writing of the new constitutional text.

For sure this weekend is being negotiated hard, but next week we should expect a decision on whether the CA is originating, the 2/3 rule will be used and to know more about the shape and rules of it.

August 24, 2006

Bolivia in the Tube

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I've known about Youtube.com quite a long time. But, today I found some videos which I wanted to share with all, because they allow us to take a peek in Bolivia, and to look at her from the outside. The first 7 minute video hosted at Youtube is clearly made for turism, and not very well commented, for my taste. But that doesn't matter because it shows, in video, natural wonders like a salt lake, a stone tree, two colorful lakes, three kinds of Flamingoes and some folklore. Once you get to the page, you have the option to keep watching more videos made by the person who put them up there. It seems to be either a tourist or a Bolivian who lives somewhere else but visits home every year.



The next video shows the streets of La Paz through the lens of some visitors.



You can even get music videos in this guy's video site. Most of the videos are from Los Kjarkas, the most famous folk group in Bolivia. This link is making it in my links-roll list.

You can also find, in more than one place, the infamous interview of Evo Morales with the Univision's anchor Ramos.



In this link you can even find parodies made in Peru of, not only Evo Morales, but of Hugo Chavez and more.

Enjoy!

News in English on Bolivia

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There is a dylema, which is not easy overcome. When trying to get information about Bolivia, we find foreign news and local news. Foreign news are, of course, in English, but so shallow one can barely wet ones feet, eventhough they are written often on location. Local news, on the other hand are a window, albeit with a filter, to what is going on in Bolivia. The disadvantage is that, one, they are only in Spanish and two, they lack that global vision to put it all into context. So what to do? My answer, to read both. So therefore in this blog I often link news in Spanish and English. One service I like a lot is Yahoo News. Here is a Sample for you:


Yahoo! News -
Thursday, August 24, 2006 12:15 AM PDT
Microsoft to launch software in BoliviaAP via Yahoo! News Wed, 23 Aug 2006 3:10 PM PDTBolivia's president has a new ally in his quest to promote Indian languages — Microsoft Corp.
Microsoft to Launch Software in BoliviaABC News Wed, 23 Aug 2006 3:28 PM PDTBolivia President, Microsoft Executives to Gather for Launch of Software in Andean Tongue
Microsoft to Launch Software in BoliviaAP via Yahoo! Finance Wed, 23 Aug 2006 3:10 PM PDTBolivia's president has a new ally in his quest to promote Indian languages -- Microsoft Corp. President Evo Morales and executives from the world's largest software company will gather Friday in the colonial city of Sucre for the local launch of Windows and Office software in the Andean tongue of Quechua.
Bolivia's U.S. envoy a rebellious choiceAP via Yahoo! News Wed, 23 Aug 2006 0:36 AM PDTBolivia's unlikely new ambassador to the United States is a career journalist with no previous diplomatic experience and a limited command of English.
(AFX UK Focus) 2006-08-24 06:51 GMT: Petrobras, Total want to resume oil exploration in BoliviaInteractive Investor Wed, 23 Aug 2006 11:11 PM PDTLA PAZ (AFX) - Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras said it and French company Total want to resume oil and gas exploration in northeast Bolivia.
Bolivia oil minister censured over energy sector nationalizationSharewatch Wed, 23 Aug 2006 9:59 PM PDTThe move came as Morales sent his vice president for talks with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in what was seen as an effort to resolve a bitter dispute over the price of natural gas Bolivia supplies to its neighbor.
Indigenous influence on politics offends Bolivia's white minorityMiami Herald Wed, 23 Aug 2006 0:23 AM PDTThe sun-browned, indigenous farmers of this village have survived in the dry moonscape of Bolivia's highlands by sharing what little they've grown in the rocky soil.
(AFX UK Focus) 2006-08-24 06:07 GMT: Bolivia oil minister censured over energy sector nationalizationInteractive Investor Wed, 23 Aug 2006 10:41 PM PDTLA PAZ (AFX) - Already struggling to implement his controversial plan to nationalize the energy sector, Bolivian President Evo Morales suffered a further setback yesterday as the Senate formally censured Energy Minister Andres Soliz over his handling of the plan.
Petrobras, Total want to resume oil exploration in BoliviaSharewatch Wed, 23 Aug 2006 10:43 PM PDT\"Petrobras would like to pursue research operations, but it needs an environmental permit\", the company said, adding that it would have to conform to new rules laid down by the Bolivian government to obtain the permit.
Bolivian Energy Minister Gets No-Confidence Vote (Update2)Bloomberg.com Wed, 23 Aug 2006 6:21 PM PDTAug. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Bolivia's Senate passed a vote of no- confidence against Energy Minister Andres Soliz, the first for a cabinet member since President Evo Morales took office in January, after the government reversed a decision to seize the country's oil and gas fields.

August 21, 2006

The Doors for Bolivia Are Slowly Closing

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The doors for Bolivians are slowly closing. That is what daily newpaper La Razon is reporting. At least, that is, in the European Union.


The EU has planned to tighten restrictions, starting 2007, for Bolivians traveling to any of its member countries. Ten west European nations will require Bolivians visa entry. These are nations which up to now don't require any visa for Bolivian visitors for 90 days. This action is taken in response to the illegal migration trend taking place from Bolivia to the EU, mainly Spain.

I wonder if this measure will stop illegal migration!

August 18, 2006

First Deliberations of the Assembly

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After having been duly started, with every bit of ceremonial pomposity, the Bolivian Constitutional Assembly (CA) has really started its work. This first item on its agenda is the organization and the establishing the rules of the game for itself. As far as I know, the CA will adopt rules and regulations similar to those of the Deputie's Chamber. I say similar because there are, of course, some variations. Accorging to news reports the assembly is in agreement on about 90% of the document. There are, however, two contentious issues which seem to lead to paralisis. The first issue is to whether adopt a 2/3 rule to vote on each and every article. There are those, MAS for example, that want either simple majority or absolute majority of votes. The MAS and Morales have been supporting the idea of approving each article by simple majority. But, now they seem to be inclined to support the absolute majority method. Whereas, PODEMOS and others have been saying the 2/3 rule (meaning 2/3 of the members in the assembly have to vote to approve anything) assures the dictatorship of the minority does not apply.

The second issue, and perhaps the most difficult, has to do with the nature of the assambly. MAS and his camp are intent into making the assambly supreme. This would mean it has the ultimate power and does not have to watch out to comply with what the current constitution says or any other laws (even those which created it) thereof. To the contrary, even the three branches of government will be subordinated to it. On the other side of the issue we find PODEMOS and the others who argue that the assembly is a body created by the laws of the land, but it has the power to reform the current constitution in its totallity. So the choice is between a CA which is originaria or derivada.

Two issues which seem to be making even more difficult the work of the CA.

August 14, 2006

Bits of Info on the Constituent Assembly

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As you well know, the Bolivian Constituent Assembly (CA) process is well on its way. In June 2, 2006 Bolivians elected their assembly members in a well publicized and closely observed elections. Just as a reminder, there are 255 members elected and officially recongnized by the electoral court. As the results show, President Evo Morales' party, MAS, got the simple majority, but not the absolute majority, as it was their goal. The overall structure of the assembly will be dominated by MAS, but can be kept in check by PODEMOS, UN, and MNR, CN and AS (the other political groups present in the CA with some significant weight). As we can see in the graphic above, the faces of the assembly are very diverse and representative. Contrary to what I thought, there are people of all walks of life, street vendors, students, professionals and scholars.

Recently, and after a long period of negotiation, the parties agreed to make up the leadership of the CA. At the head, we find an indigenous woman, Silvia Lazarte, who has experience in union leadership and organization, and has close ties with Evo Morales.



There are already several proposals from diverse organizations. Some samples can be found here.

One of the current issues being talked about is MAS' proposal on internal regulations. Morales and his party, MAS, have expressed their preference of using a simple majority vote when voting for individual issues, and using the 2/3 rule (mandated by the law) to vote for the entire text. I am not sure what is the use of this strategy. Say, every individual issue is voted by simple majority. This would mean that MAS has not trouble at all writing the constitution by itself. Since it has the simple majority rule in the CA, and controls the presidency and other important positions. This would alienate the other groups and would put them into a position of radicalization. What would happen then when the vote to approve the whole text comes to the assembly floor? In this instance, it needs 2/3 of the vote. The only way, I can think of, MAS can get away writing the constitution alone is if it gains the support of ALL other organizations present in the assembly. And that is a serious, we'll see!

Another issue is the urging from the part of the government to the social movements, unions and other organizations, to watch closely the CA. And if the assembly members do not do as they are told, there will be trouble. Special attention should be paid to the opposition. Dangerous game, that's all I have to say. Additionally, Morales wants to put the CA above all, even above the current constitution. His argument is that the constitution cannot be subordinated to anything and it should be supreme.

Above all, the process seems to be going well. The CA will meet in Sucre, Bolivia's capital. The president and vicepresidencies, and all other positions are ready. The assembly members are too. They just need to start the work. We'll keep a close eye.

August 12, 2006

The Government Enters Familiar Territory

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The government of President Morales seems to be entering familiar territory. In the past weeks there have been more and more demonstrations against the government and its cabinet members. For example, since last Thursday military troops had to establish presence in the miner town of Huanuni. This, to calm tensions between groups of miners confronted against eachother by a decision from the Mining Minister, Walter Villarroel. This is one of the first times I read the government employs the military to mitigate conflict.

Another example is the recently reported conflict between the state and the police force. The Bolivian police has started a strike to demand a wage increase. The guards and security in and around the government buildings was at some points nonexistent. According to reports, the government has lowered the tension by promising to take a look at the many discounts on the paychecks of lower ranked police officers. However, the Government Minister, Alicia Munoz, said that currently the government places priority on the health and education sectors. Meanwhile, there is a potential confrontation with the military because they too want pay raises.

Also last week there was yet another march through the streets of La Paz. This time the teacher's union was asking the resignation of Education Minister, Felix Patzi. They were upset at the planned reforms the minister was trying to implement. According to union leaders, this is just the beginning. In the next days, it will be decided what other pressure methods will be used to achieve the goal. On his part, Minister Patzi announced there will be consequences for the teachers who do not go to work. This is a potentially escalating step the minister is taking. At the same time, there was another march from the people at the government health insurance scheme. These people were reacting at, what they called, direct government intervention. The government wants to audit them.

Finally, there was a notable dispute between the government and the Catholic Church. Evo Morales' government wanted Bolivia to have a secular state. I am not sure he wanted to apply the principle of separation of church and state, or he just wanted to end the hegemony the church has over the population. I am inclined to think the latter. In any case, the church took this advance personally and didn't think twice in entering into a direct confrontation with the government. The government rapidly responded with accusations that the church was acting in its traditionally colonialist role. In the end, Morales gave way to the church and promised not to secularize the state. At least for now.

While these are not, in any way, comparable to the conflicts between state and population in recent times, they are indeed a signal to the government that the problems are still there and will be there for some time to come. The Morales government has entered into a period of normal relations between state and people, in the Bolivian sense. In many ways, the "honeymoon period" is over.

August 09, 2006

The Wonders of Google Earth

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Google Earth, isn't it a wonderful tool? With it, we can zero in into the very objects of our interest. Thanks to friendly people who read MABB, I keep on learning more and more about the advances and virtues of Google Earth. In an earlier post, on the advice of another reader, I talked about the ability of a user to get high resolution images at a very close range. I've heard, at that time, that one could even see the houses down on the ground. In that post, I took a snippet of an image showing the city of La Paz. From another reader, I heard it was possible to see other cities, like Cochabamba or even small towns in El Alto. You can read those comments yourself in the comments section of that post.

Very recently, I got another message from a reader (Sergio) who located the compound of Manfred Reyes Villa, the Prefect of Cochabamba. Now, every public person in Bolivia has to make a "public" declaration of income and property. Where he lives is public knowledge. With a tool like Google Earth, one can even pay him a visit. Take a look. Also, I do not have 100% assurance it is in fact Manfred's Villa. But, even if its not, you can clearly see the reach of Google Earth and, of course, its potential uses.

Wow, it is hard to think that is somewhere in old dusty Cochabamba. It looks more like somewhere in Mallorca. People really know how to live there.

August 07, 2006

Interview With Key Figure Andres Soliz Rada (in Spanish)

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Dear readers, I received by email an interesting text from an interview given by Energy Minister, Andres Soliz Rada to journalist Andres Perez Gonzales from the Chilean online news magazine, Ercilla. I post the interview because I think it is important to listen or read commentaries directly from the source. An interview gives a, more or less, less filtered version of what a person means and thinks. I find this particularly important in the case of Soliz Rada, because he is such an important figure in the Morales government and there is so little information coming from his own lips. This interview can enable us to contribute to the picture we have about his person.

One thing though, for reasons of time, I am not translating the interview into English. I am hoping that the majority of MABB's readers, at least, read some Spanish. If not, there is always translation by Google. When I have the chance and the demand for it is big, I will translate the article in its entirety. Or perhaps, someone else wants to translate it. That would do it, too. :-)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Andrés Soliz Rada: “LA POLÍTICA DE ‘GAS POR MAR’ SEGUIRA SIENDO UN ARMA DE PRESION”

En entrevista exclusiva, el poderoso ministro de Hidrocarburos de Bolivia asegura a Ercilla que la reciente estadía de Joaquín Lavín en La Paz “se enmarca en declaraciones a favor de la causa marítima boliviana, que van en constante incremento”. Con firmeza, estima que su país “sí puede hablar de hostilidades que sufre desde hace décadas” por parte de Chile.
N° 3.299 del 31 de julio al 13 de agosto del 2006
No es fácil acceder al hombre clave de Evo Morales en el área estratégica de la energía. Y no porque huya de los periodistas, ya que ejerció esta profesión hasta hace algunos años, la cual ha complementado por cierto con la abogacía y, en los noventa, con sus funciones como diputado por el partido Conciencia de Patria, una desaparecida agrupación de izquierda nacionalista.
No es fácil de entrevistar sencillamente porque es el responsable de poner en marcha las primeras etapas del plan de nacionalización de los hidrocarburos, decretado inesperadamente el pasado 1 de mayo por Morales, ex dirigente cocalero reconvertido en gobernante del vecino país altiplánico. Su agenda está saturada de reuniones, pero Andrés Soliz Rada (1939) se hace el tiempo para responder nuestras preguntas.

¿Se siente más cómodo en su cargo luego del reciente respaldo que le diera el presidente Evo Morales, y después que algunas versiones anunciaran su renuncia? –Me siento cómodo no sólo por el respaldo mencionado, sino por la identificación que tengo con el presidente Evo Morales en el conjunto de la política nacional. El punto de arranque de esa política ha sido la nacionalización del gas y del petróleo, la que ha reabierto el proceso de revolución nacional boliviana, pero esta vez con la participación hegemónica de movimientos sociales y pueblos originarios conducidos por Evo Morales, convertido hoy en día en el aglutinador de la nación oprimida.

¿Cómo describiría su relación con el actual gobernante boliviano? ¿Qué tipo de liderazgo ejerce, a su juicio, el mandatario?–El presidente Morales ha construido su liderazgo en las Federaciones Campesinas del Valle de Cochabamba (centro del país), caracterizadas por adoptar decisiones colectivas, francas y democráticas. Este antecedente explica que su gestión esté signada por dos consignas sencillas y profundas: “Cero corrupción y cero nepotismo”. Si se descubre alguna de estas lacras, la destitución de cualquier funcionario, por elevada que sea su jerarquía, es inmediata. Lo anterior ha creado entre el señor presidente y yo un clima de confianza, respeto mutuo y trato amistoso del que me siento honrado.

¿Cree que prosperará, al parecer dentro de un plan mayor de auditoría, la reciente acusación judicial presentada por usted en contra del cuestionado ex gobernante Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada (refugiado en Estados Unidos tras su renuncia en 2003), por la supuesta suscripción irregular de contratos con la petrolera Enron?–El juicio que acabamos de iniciar a los responsables bolivianos que firmaron los contratos que permitieron a la corrupta Enron apropiarse gratuitamente del 40% del paquete accionario del gasoducto de Bolivia al Brasil, tiene una base de dignidad nacional y otra jurídica. No se podía tolerar por más tiempo que mi país, siendo uno de los más afectados por la petrolera norteamericana, no hubiera adoptado una medida que ya fue puesta en práctica por más de 40 naciones en el mundo. El Ministerio Público impulsará las acciones judiciales pertinentes, que deberían culminar con la condena de los culpables.

TERMOELECTRICIDAD
¿Continúa vigente de parte de Bolivia la política de “gas por mar” hacia Chile?
–La política de “gas por mar” responde al referéndum del 18 de julio de 2004, en cuya oportunidad el pueblo boliviano la respaldó en las urnas. Ese mismo referéndum ha servido de base para la nacionalización de los hidrocarburos y para que YPFB (Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos) recupere la propiedad de las acciones de empresas petroleras que estaban en manos de dos administradoras de fondos de pensiones. Por tanto, no se puede tomar del referéndum sólo una parte del mismo. Sin embargo, el Gobierno no ha asumido la fórmula “gas por mar” de manera dogmática, ya que la ha flexibilizado al ofrecer a Chile la venta de termoelectricidad, que constituirá una transacción comercial beneficiosa para Chile, por cuanto aliviará la necesidad de energía que tienen sus grandes empresas mineras, beneficiará a Bolivia porque venderá gas con valor agregado, lo que le proporcionará mayores ingresos, sin dejar de aplicar su política de gas natural por mar, que continuará siendo un arma de presión para terminar con su injusto enclaustramiento geográfico.

¿Cree viable aquella estrategia ventilada por usted de vender termoelectricidad a Chile y guardarse el gas natural para la negociación marítima?–La respuesta a esa pregunta está en manos del Gobierno de Santiago.

¿No cree que las grandes mineras del norte de Chile desecharán todo eventual acuerdo con Bolivia debido a un denunciado alto riesgo “geopolítico”?–El argumento es deleznable. Los gobiernos de Evo Morales y Michelle Bachelet se caracterizan por su estabilidad y seriedad. En estos momentos, se están realizando enormes transacciones petroleras en países como Nigeria e Irán, frente a los cuales Bolivia es modelo de solidez y confianza.

¿Considera también que, tras el acuerdo gasífero entre La Paz y Buenos Aires, Chile deberá pagar un precio “más que razonable”, en palabras del ministro de Planificación argentino, Julio de Vido?–Se ha dicho hasta el cansancio que la energía más cara es aquella que no se tiene. México acaba de ofrecer a Bolivia la compra de gas natural a precios internacionales, es decir a los existentes entre México y Estados Unidos. Bolivia ofrece vender a Chile termoelectricidad también a “precios razonables”.

¿Por qué el acuerdo firmado entre Argentina y Bolivia no debiera ser considerado como un acto “hostil” a los intereses de Chile?–Los sectores dominantes y privilegiados de Chile no tienen derecho a hablar de la supuesta hostilidad boliviana. Lo dijimos anteriormente y hoy lo repetimos. Lo verdaderamente hostil es dejar enclaustrado a un país hermano durante 127 años. Hostilidad es haber suscrito con Perú el Protocolo Complementario del Tratado de 1929, por el cual Lima y Santiago acuerdan mantener de manera conjunta el despojo de la costa marítima boliviana. Hostilidad es utilizar gratuitamente por más de 102 años las aguas de las vertientes del Silala (mal llamado “río internacional”). Hostilidad significa predicar una política de apertura comercial, pero cerrarla a la compra de artículos de verdadera significación económica como la carne de res, el azúcar o la soya. Hostilidad es mantener minado el territorio fronterizo sin causas que lo justifiquen. Bolivia sí puede hablar de hostilidades que sufre desde hace décadas.

Desde su perspectiva, ¿es realmente un paso adelante el anuncio de los subsecretarios boliviano y chileno, Mauricio Dorfler y Alberto Van Klaveren, respecto a la inclusión del tema marítimo en la agenda bilateral, en circunstancias que las anteriores administraciones ya hablaban de un diálogo “sin exclusiones” y la parte chilena ha aclarado que no se habló de cese de soberanía?–Estimo que por parte de Mauricio Dorfler hubo buena fe, buena voluntad y una sincera esperanza de resolver nuestros problemas comunes. Espero que las acciones del Gobierno de Chile demuestren similares propósitos a los de Bolivia.

¿Qué opinión e importancia otorga a la reciente visita a La Paz de Joaquín Lavín, ocasión en que declaró que “para mí es obvio que el tema marítimo tiene que estar en la agenda de Chile y Bolivia”?–Lo que pasa es que el mundo se mueve, pese a quienes se empeñan en negarlo. La actitud del señor Lavín se enmarca en declaraciones a favor de la causa marítima de Bolivia que van en constante incremento, desde las vertidas por un alto Jefe de la Fuerza Naval (probablemente se refiere a los dichos del senador UDI y ex jefe de la Armada Jorge Arancibia) hasta las expresiones de movimientos sociales que acudieron al Estadio Nacional de Chile para expresar su solidaridad con la causa marítima de Bolivia y Evo Morales, el día en el que la señora Bachelet asumió la presidencia de su país. En este punto, no puedo menos que manifestar mi admiración y respeto a personas como Pedro Godoy y Leonardo Jeffs, quienes siguiendo la tradición de Gabriela Mistral y Oscar Pinochet de la Barra, luchan, a través del Centro de Estudios Chilenos (Cedech), por el desenclaustramiento de Bolivia.

EJES
¿Participará Bolivia en el proyecto del Gaseoducto del Sur (la iniciativa del presidente de Venezuela para construir un gasoducto de unos 6 mil kilómetros, que saldrá de territorio venezolano y atravesará Brasil para llevar el energético hacia Argentina, Paraguay y Uruguay)?
–Participará con tres condiciones: primera, que parte importante del gas boliviano sea industrializado dentro de Bolivia; segunda, que el negocio esté dirigido, de manera hegemónica, por empresas petroleras estatales de los países que usted menciona; y tercera, que se reconozca al país productor una utilidad de los beneficios que produce el gas en los países de destino.

¿Mantiene sus declaraciones de que Brasil actúa como un “duro” negociador ante el pedido de su país de subir el precio del gas, porque el presidente Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva “no quiere perder votos” de cara a su campaña para la reelección? ¿Cómo prevé la continuación de esas negociaciones, dado que a mediados de agosto se debiera llegar a un acuerdo para no recurrir a un arbitraje internacional?–Es difícil negociar con Brasil antes, durante y después de sus procesos electorales. Bolivia hará todo lo posible por no resolver el problema de precios por la vía del arbitraje. Esperemos que Brasilia haga lo mismo.

¿De qué forma la supuesta configuración de un eje La Habana-Caracas-La Paz facilita un acercamiento en las relaciones entre Bolivia y Chile, teniendo en cuenta que la Moneda mantiene legítimas diferencias con el modelo del mencionado eje?–Bolivia y Chile tienen el legítimo derecho de mantener sus propias visiones sobre la economía y sus alianzas internacionales, lo que no debe impedir que encuentren sus propias coincidencias.

¿Cuáles son, desde su perspectiva, los caminos que debieran recorrer tanto Palacio Quemado como La Moneda, y especialmente sus respectivos pueblos?–El presidente Evo Morales ha reiterado el carácter fraterno de los pueblos chileno y boliviano. Han sido las oligarquías y los centros de poder mundial los que atizan las contiendas que nos debilitan y enfrentan. Soy un militante de las ideas bolivarianas y de la Patria Latinoamericana, a la que considero una utopía socialista, pacífica, humanista y democrática, capaz de señalar rumbos nuevos a un mundo que se desintegra por el ecologicidio, la guerra y el armamentismo practicado por centros de poder mundial que se creen dueños de la verdad, de la racionalidad y del sentido común.

Andrés Pérez González

August 06, 2006

Bolivia Starts Its Re-founding Process

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Today, August 6, 2006, Bolivia does not only celebrates its 181 years of independence, but also starts the one year process to, as its president Morales says, "re-found the country". Today in the official capital city of Sucre, the 255 member Constituent Assembly is being inaugurated with all the ceremonies it deserves.

Take a look at this almost live photo stream from Yahoo! (click on the image)



On Saturday, Morales spoke to the Congress (joint session) and gave a sort of state of the union address. In his speech, Morales highlighted what his government achieved in its first six months in power. He said his government implemented a policy of austerity, which reduced the salaries of the members of government, including the president's, congress and the judiciary, not to mention high functionaries in the bureaucracy. A second achievement was the so called alphabetization. This meant that many Bolivians were taught to read and write. At the same time, many others in the urban areas will be taught to read and write in an indigenous language. On health he highlighted the work of the Cuban doctors who came to Bolivia to offer free care. Fourthly, he mentioned the around 8 tons of cocain confiscated. And finally, he assured Bolivia would continue to have stable growth, mainly due to the forgiveness of around 70% of Bolivia's foreign debt by the international community.

At the same time, it has been reported by the media, that Morales will travel to the USA in September this year. Taking advantage of an invitation from the UN for Morales to attend the meeting, the president wants to meet with "people" (we don't know who yet) to talk about the ATPDEA and its importance for Bolivia. This trip will build on Linera's last trip to the US.

As I write this, the events in Sucre take place and thus the reports coming out are few still. Here is list of link of news about it. Courtesy of Yahoo News, of course. :-)

Bolivia prepares to rewrite constitution
AP via Yahoo! News - Aug 05 6:44 PMPresident Evo Morales' drive to reinvent Bolivia takes a big step Sunday with the opening of a convention to write a new constitution aimed at ending the centuries-old supremacy of the European-descended minority.

Bolivia starts assembly to rewrite constitution to give more power to Indian majority
Khaleej Times - 38 minutes agoSUCRE, Bolivia - President Evo Morales launched his ambitious drive to give more power and opportunity to Bolivia’s Indian majority on Sunday when he officially opened a Constituent Assembly to rewrite the nation’s constitution.

Divisions clear as Bolivia starts new constitution
The Plain Dealer - Aug 06 4:46 AMSucre, Bolivia -- President Evo Morales' drive to reinvent Bolivia is taking a big step today with the opening of a convention to write a new constitution aimed at ending the centuries-old supremacy of the European-descended minority.

Bolivia working to unify country
San Jose Mercury News - Aug 06 3:34 AMThis quiet, colonial city nestled in the Andean mountains has hosted some of this country's most auspicious moments, from economic booms fueled by nearby silver mining to the declaration of Bolivia's independence in 1825.

President congratulates Bolivia, Ivory Coast on independence days
Islamic Republic News Agency - Aug 06 7:29 AMIran - Bolivia - Ivory Coast President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a massage unday congratulated Bolivian President Juan Evo Morales Ayma as well as the Bolivian government and people on the country's Independence Day.

Bolivia Ponders Changes to Current Constitution
Angus Reid - 35 minutes ago- Adults in Bolivia are divided on the issues that should be tackled by the National Constituent Assembly, according to a poll by Apoyo, Opinión y Mercado.

Bolivia set to write new constitution
Arizona Daily Star - Aug 06 12:24 AMSUCRE, Bolivia — President Evo Morales' drive to reinvent Bolivia takes a big step today with the opening of a convention to write a new constitution aimed at ending the centuries-old supremacy of the European-descended minority.

Bolivia Prepares to Rewrite Constitution
ABC News - Aug 05 9:28 AMBolivia Prepares to Rewrite Constitution Aimed at Improving Lot for Indian Majority

Drive to reinvent Bolivia
Worcester Telegram & Gazette - Aug 06 1:31 AMSUCRE, Bolivia - President Evo Morales' drive to reinvent Bolivia takes a big step today with the opening of a convention to write a new constitution aimed at ending the centuries-old supremacy of the European-descended minority.

High hopes as Bolivia rewrites constitution
Seattle Times - Aug 06 12:19 AMThis quiet, colonial city in the Andean mountains has hosted some of this country's most auspicious moments, from economic booms fueled...

August 02, 2006

Approval Rating for Morales Goes Down

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The latest polls indicate a downward trend in the approval numbers for Evo Morales and his government. Worthy of highlighting is the poor ratings on his handling of Bolivia's international relations.

Source: La Razon