Let the dick waving of imperial vs. Latin American politicos begin! Yesterday both Venezuela and Bolivia ordered the U.S. Ambassadors in their countries “fuera”.
Hugo Chavez accused the U.S. diplomat of conspiring against his government and saying he would also withdraw his own envoy from Washington immediately.
Chavez had been threatening to kick out U.S. diplomats for some time. Seems the straw that broke Hugito’s back was Bolivia’s expulsion of the U.S. Ambassador, accusing him of aiding violent protests that as of last night have claimed eight lives.
Al-Jazeera has a really interesting video story about the struggles of the Indigenous communities against land/power owning mestizos and those of European descent.
I do have to question the choice of the opening sequence of the statue ripping out the heart of a European. Seems like the story is trying to link the current struggle as a continuation of a long history.
According to the most recent exit polls, a referendum in Santa Cruz, Bolivia has given that largest state autonomy from the central government. While supporters of the effort hit the streets to celebrate a victory, the election was colored by violence between the two sides. President Evo Morales declared the vote a failure.
This illegal and unconstitutional poll has not had the success that some families and groups in the state of Santa Cruz had hoped for,” Morales said.
The president said nearly 40 percent of eligible voters did not go to the polls — and that their absence amounted to a rejection of autonomy effort, which pits an eastern state rich in oil and natural gas with a central government led by a leftist president.
There was much uproar in Bolivia late last month when it was announced that a new constitution was approved in that country. Among the amendments to the document was a stipulation that seemed to go unnoticed until now; one that writes discrimination into the constitution by defining marriage between a man and a woman.
The Bolivian LGBT community is outraged, while the Bolivian government defended itself saying they “haven’t received any requests” on the part of the gay community to include gay marriage as a right in the new constitution and alleges that such a proposal wouldn’t have gone anywhere since “Bolivian society is conservative”.
15 LGBT groups in Bolivia are fighting back with a document outlining their demands, among them the right to education and employment regardless of sexual orientation.
My friend Mariano Amartino over at the Clarin newspaper’s “Blog about Blogs” reports that Bolivia’s first citizen-produced online newspaper has just launched. It’s called AhoraBolivia.com.
Founded by two young journalists, the project — apparently the first of this kind in Bolivia — has a noble mission:
We want to, in a selfless and free way, create an authentic citizen newspaper in which the voices of the citizens of Bolivia may be heard; free voices and voices committed to freedom. Voices that create unity in a country rich in resources and culture.
As Latin American countries such as Bolivia continue to struggle through political strife, this is a refreshing departure from mainstream media’s reporting of the issues. Let’s hope this is just the first of many citizen journalism initiatives in Bolivia.
In an interview yesterday with AP, Bolivian President Evo Morales said that upon losing a recall referendum he is currently proposing as an out of the current crisis in the South American country, he would call immediately for new presidential elections. But what’s good for the goose, as they say, is also good for the 6 out of 9 governors who have rallied against Morales and his proposals that would redesign the government and redistribute land.
Afro-Bolivians tired of a lack of representation in their country have ushered in a new leader: they’ve crowned a king to lead their community and fight for their interests:
Dressed in a red cape over a white tunic, Piendo promised to “take care of the happiness and the well-being of all Afro-Bolivians” after receiving the crown and scepter from the governor of La Paz, José Luis Paredes.
“Bolivia and the world have to know that we are a people with culture and history, that we were forgotten but haven’t disappeared. We aren’t just ‘negritos’ who dance in the street and are good at futbol,” said Martha Inofuentes, leader of the Afro-Bolivian movement.
According to Spain’s 20 Minutos, Julio Pinedo, the country’s first Afro-Bolivian “king” will continue to live in his humble home in Yungas growing coca, and his 13-year old son has been named “crown prince”.
President Evo Morales was invited to the ceremony but did not attend.
Six Bolivian states are going on strike in opposition to the proposed new constitution, a document so controversial that it’s left at least 3 dead in violent protests over the last week. Reports Mexico City’s La Jornada:
The most important states of Bolivia, those which contribute 80% of the Internal Brute Product for the country, are going on a 48-hour strike to protest the constitution project approved by president Evo Morales.
The movement began this Tuesday in the northern state of Pando but the strongest part of it will happen on Wednesday when the powerful Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni, Cochabamba y Chuquisaca states will join, according to an announcement made by organizers on Monday.
That same day, leaders announced a hunger strike for December 3rd, and challenged President Morales to submit to a referendum to approve his presidency.
Violence in Sucre last week was attributed to the fact that the new constitution was reportedly approved in a military college there without the presence of members of the opposition.
Vice-president Alvaro Garcia, speaking about the economic “war” (his words) that the opposition is waging against the government, called plans to present a document declaring autonomy from the Bolivian state a “coup”.
Former Bolivian president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada has been named in a lawsuit filed by relatives of Bolivians killed during clashes with security forces in 2003. According to the suit, filed on behalf od the families by the NYC based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Sanchez de Lozada ordered a crackdown on protests against his government which killed 67 people and wounded hundreds more. Sanchez de Lozada resigned and left the country soon after the incident, 13 months into his second term as president and has been living in the US in self-imposed exile since. Another lawsuit with the same charges was filed against Carlos Sanchez Berzain, a former interior and defense minister.