A few more links on Bolivia that you may find interesting to read. Some may be a little out of date now – I meant to be writing more this week but have been ill. I’ll keep adding to this as I find more over the next few days.

BOLIVIA:”Twenty Families Are Obstructing Governability” By Franz Chávez. Some background and analysis of possible solutions.

It is precisely this avalanche of votes, the greatest proportion won by a president since the restoration of democracy in 1982, that raises questions for sociology Professor Joaquín Saravia, who told IPS that “The government appears insecure, because it has overwhelming social and political support, but this has not translated into real control of the country, which is alarming,” he said.

The head of the governing Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) parliamentary group, César Navarro, said that democratic changes being promoted by the government are resisted by the elites, who are accustomed to lives of privilege and benefiting from the state.

Elite Backlash, by Nick Buxton. Commentary on Monday’s conflict, including a translation of an account from Bolivia.

What they nearly always fail to mention are any of the following facts:

– that the opposition is led by business elites and big landowners who have spent vast amounts of money, tactics of intimidation, and violence to push the message that regional autonomy will improve people’slives
– despite this fierce campaign and the almost complete absence of central government, the opposition’s popular support is still limited to the cities whilst the central government’s support grows ever more
– that the central government’s nationalisation more than doubled the revenues for the Eastern regions
– that the Right who fought the Constitutional Assembly for a year saying everything had to be approved by two-thirds suddenly don’t want any further popular votes now that two-thirds backed Evo in a referendum in July

Definitely worth reading, this is the reaction of the Center for Juridical Studies and Social Investigation, the organisation whose building and records were destroyed on Monday. “Violent Groups Take Over Human Rights Organization In Bolivia”.

The offices of CEJIS, along with its personnel, were attacked more than 15 time in the last five years. In the last months the institution suffered two attacks with molotov cocktails (in November 2007 and last August). In its 30 years of work, CEJIS has provided legal assistance to indigenous, landless and peasant organizations in the process of titling their lands and territories. It has been a permanent ally of the social movements in the legal codification of their rights in national legislation, and advised and accompanied the progress of social organizations in the Constituent Assembly. This work has implied a permanent risk on the personnel and offices of CEJIS, threatened by the sectors of power that have historically controlled the region of Eastern Bolivia, who now feel menaced by the advance of the rights of the most marginalized sectors of our society.

As always, for ongoing analysis check out Jim Shultz in Blog from Bolivia (in the links to the right). In particular he reported last night on one piece of good news and potential hope for a solution other than civil war:

Tarija’s Governor Heads to La Paz for Negotiations with Morales

The one good piece of news today is that Tarija Governor Mario Cossío announced that he was headed to La Paz this afternoon to open a negotiation on the current crisis with the Morales government. Radio Erbol also reported that Santa Cruz Governor Ruben Costas has endorsed the negotiation effort. “I am completely convinced that this is the last opportunity to begin a process of reconciliation and leave behind the process of confrontation,” Cossio told reporters.

His piece from yesterday (Friday 12th) is worth reading in its entirety.

The Gringo Tambo blog reports on “8 dead in Pando overnight”, giving a brief summary which links to an article in Spanish:

Again according to La Razón, eight people were killed in Pando in “armed clashes” between autonomistas and masistas. Venezuela is threatening to intervene. Brazil and Argentina have said that they will “not tolerate” a coup and that they fully support the Morales government. Meanwhile, Evo is mobilizing military and police troops. No word yet on what is happening today. From what I understand things in Santa Cruz are tense but calm, with members of the UJC still occupying buildings.

Following that, there is more historical background on these clashes from the political scientist blogger Miguel Centellas.

The sad thing here is that these are not military units, which should be the forces (along w/ the police) used to restore state authority. The consequence—assuming they actually do march on Santa Cruz & other opposition-controlled areas—will be a higher casualty count. For all their bravura, Ponchos Rojos (like the UCJ) lack military discipline & training. That means their clashes will be bloody, like the clash in Pando that left at least 8 dead & 80 injured.

Miguel’s summary post from this morning is also very useful, describing the Bolivian military’s reaction to Venezuela’s ‘offer’ to send their army into Bolivia to defend Morales at a time when the US ambassador has been forced to leave the country for interference in Bolivia’s affairs.

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