Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Waiting in Santa Cruz
I've been kicking around Santa Cruz, the center of the opposition movement against Evo Morales, for the past few days. It's a nice enough city--tropical and sunny, a nice change from frigid La Paz. Yesterday I stopped by the offices of the Pro–Santa Cruz Committee, the main opposition group composed of wealthy landowners (and, some would say, crypto-fascists). I was treated politely, but wasn't able to score an interview. Today, though, I received an email from a representative from the committee that hinted at the possibility of an interview with Branko Marinkovic, the leader of the group. If it happens, it would be a good story.
But I'm also itching to get out into the countryside. There's all sorts of interesting things going on: roadblocks have been set up around Sucre by pro-Morales campesinos; other roadblocks have been set up blocking access to the border of Argentina by the Morales opposition. And here I am, sitting in a café with an eye on my inbox, at the mercy of others in planning my day.
If the interview with Marinkovic falls through, I might visit Plan 3,000, an impoverished neighborhood here in Santa Cruz that is one of the few Morales strongholds in this city. I strolled through it yesterday, before meeting with the Pro-Santa Cruz Committee people, but time was tight and I couldn't do much more than take a few pictures before I had to turn back.
Unlike other areas in Santa Cruz, which is a particularly wealthy city, Plan 3,000 has few paved roads, and it has a semi-open sewer. There's trash everywhere, and the wind whips up the dry, sandy soil. While Santa Cruz's city center is chock-full of new S.U.V.s and late-model sedans, on Plan 3,000's streets are rusted taxicabs and horse-drawn carts. In Plaza 24 de Septiembre--the main tree-lined park where families stroll and lovers spoon on benches--there is a large poster of Christian Urresti, a young man who was killed during the 2007 Cochabamba riots (the poster reads: Youth martyr for democracy. Assassinated on Jan. 11, 2007, in Cochabamba while crying out for democracy and liberty by a group of coca farmers who killed him with a machete and by choking him to death. For this we ask for justice for him and the other victims of the authoritarianism headed by Evo Morales). In Plan 3,000, there's graffiti calling department prefect Ruben Costas a son of a bitch (hijo de puta) and a cock. (First picture at the top.)
It's a city divided in a country divided.
Now, back to the email.