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9/16/08

To the disappointment of many, peace breaks out in Bolivia

Bolivian Veep, Alvaro Garcia Linera, with the
agreement he sent to the separatist leaders.
They signed. KowTow! KowTow!

I've spent extra time following the Bolivia situation recently, and I'm happy to say that I believe this will be the last in the series of posts, at least for a while.

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It's just bizarre coincidence after bizarre coincidence.

We hear today that the US is withdrawing its Peace Corps spies....sorry, workers from Bolivia. This from the White House Daily Briefing today:

QUESTION: So the withdrawal of the Peace Corps volunteers has nothing to do with any reduction measure?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we want to have a good relationship with Bolivia and the people of Bolivia, and the Peace Corps is an important part of trying to help the people of Bolivia. That’s what they’re there trying to do. But of course, we have to look at the situation on the ground, and it’s our obligation to take those steps that we think are necessary to ensure that our people are able to accomplish the long-term goals of that mission. And we believe that this was a prudent step based on the situation on the ground in Bolivia.


We hear how the US gov't recommends its citizens leave the country and is laying melodrama on with a trowel by arranging evacuation flights out of Bolivia to Peru tomorrow. (Hint to those US citizens thinking about climbing aboard; El Alto airport to Peru/Bolivia border is two hours by bus and costs U$1.50. If you're that scared make a run for it now, dudes).

We hear how today, of all days, the USA decides to put Bolivia on its narcotics blacklist. No matter that, for example, Peru produces 290MT of cocaine per year. According to the USA experts, the 120MT potential of Bolivia (whatever potential may mean) makes them far, far naughtier.

We hear from US-based press reports how today's arrest of Pando prefect and alleged brain behind last week's massacre, Leopoldo Fernández, was going to set it all off again;

"....The arrest today of opposition leader Leopoldo Fernandez, governor of the remote Amazonian province of Pando, abruptly ended efforts by the president and opposition leaders to talk about compromises after..."

And then just as the world waits for the serious fighting to start, the Evo gov't sends a piece of paper over to the autonomy rebels and says "If you want to talk, stop the shenanigans and sign this". What do they do? To the disappointment of many an editorial writer up North, they sign. Reuters reports;

""We have decided to sign this accord for peace to return," Santa Cruz Gov. Ruben Costas told reporters."

The talks are scheduled to start Thursday in the city of Cochabamba (symbolically around midway between La Paz and Santa Cruz). The autonomy leaders will arrive in a position of considerable weakness, but let's hope Evo doesn't make them squirm too much (not on the first day at least) and they can sit at the same table for long enough to make some real dialogue progress.

As for the region's attitude towards the United States of America? Down here we all know that the US (ex) Ambassador to Bolivia was caught in a secret meeting with the separatist leaders. That's not party politics, that's a plain boring fact. And when the USA was caught red-handed on the diplomatic front (not to mention embarrassing scenes with US special ops forces in Santa Cruz), its show of foot-stomping has been non-stop ever since.

Unfortunately for the USA, it isn't going to get its wish for a country falling apart, no matter how hard it screams and stomps that foot. Bolivia isn't "on the brink", it's totally under the control of its legitimate and democratically elected government that has 100% support from all the region's states.

Dear reader; if you're in North America, reading this and thinking about a loved one with a US passport somewhere in Bolivia right now, let me tell you that the average Bolivian on the street has no ill-feeling towards the USA. Quite the opposite, in fact. Along with the rest of South America, the present reaction is the same all over. They're laughing at you guys. So don't worry, because apart from a few taunts of "whuss" your people are perfectly safe.