Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It Looks Like Evo Came Out on Top

Otto and El Dude have once again summarized the situation down here very well. Check out their sites and read the news for some spectacular recaps on what has just occurred at yesterday's summit meeting among South American leaders. Otto's got the goods on the summit, and El Dude breaks down the motivations of the racist/fascist/meenie opposition. (Photo stolen from El Dude.)

If you are too lazy for that, let me give you a selected rundown (from Otto's translation):

It looks like Evo's hand is once again strengthened. Not only did he receive 67% of the vote last month, but now South America has rallied behind him. I've always wondered what the hell Costas and Marinkovic (prefect of Santa Cruz department and "civic committee" leader, respectively) were thinking when they assumed that Santa Cruz--a landlocked region in a landlocked country--could take control of the state's natural resources. To whom would they sell: Brazil? Argentina? No, both have leftist(-ish) leaders who respect the democratically elected president of Bolivia. Now, that sentiment is formalized. (1. [The participants of the summit lend] [t]heir fullest and decided support for the constitutional government of President Evo Morales, whose mandate was ratified by a wide margin in the recent referendum.)

But what of this "autonomy" movement? (Whatever that means. I've never heard nor read a sufficient definition of what that implies, beyond "We don't want to associate with a dirty Indian.") Well, doesn't look like that's going to go too far: (2. [South American leaders] warn that its respective governments energetically reject and do not recognize any situation that implies an intent of civil coup d'etat, the rupture of institutional order, or that compromises the territorial integrity of the Republic of Bolivia.) Boom! Take that, Branko!

And the massacre in Pando, in which at least 30 pro-Morales demonstrators died, cut down while crossing a bridge to their meeting by paramilitaries sniping at them from the treetops (I'm not making this shit up!): ( ... [the leaders] express the firmest condemnation of the massacre that took place in the department of Pando, and support the call made by the Bolivian government for a Unasur [Union of South American Nations] commission to be set up in this brother country to impartially investigate and report this lamentable occurance as soon as possible, and to formulate recommendations in such a way that it is not left unpunished.) Translation: Leopoldo Fernández, you are in a world of hurt. (Although I have a feeling that in the spirit of "reconciliation," these murders might go unpunished.)

If you want to see what fascist thugs beating on defenseless soldiers looks like, here you are (in Spanish, but violence is a universal language).

I think that a lot of credit has to go to Morales himself, who had the prescience to tread lightly in this situation and not send in the army. That, I think, would have played into the hands of the autonomistas, consigning Evo to dictator (in convoluted medialuna logic) and weakening his hand considerably. Instead, Evo played rope-a-dope, taking his hits till his opponents sputtered out of steam. Now he looks like the good guy who didn't resort to violence (although even I, who am a fierce opponent of governmental abuse of authority, could see that military action was justified. (See Hanging Around on the Wrong Side of the World for a discussion of lefty politics and state authority in a time of crisis.)
And last, Counterpunch has a brief Bolivian tutorial that pithily encapsulates the crisis.

And interesting aside: Two nights ago I was eating dinner at a nice German restaurant in downtown Santa Cruz, and the bartender, a cruceña, was speaking to me about the situation in the city. She was nice, adamantly anti-Morales, and intelligent in her opinions. She insisted that the central government had done little to develop the city through the past few decades (I imagine that there's more Miami and cartel money down here than central funds). I was most appreciative of her opinions until she slipped and, with exasperation, she concluded her argument with the most obvious of slurs: "And he's an Indian!" I nodded and tucked back into my Weinerschnitzel.

I've heard the roadblocks are now down, and I expect to catch a bus to Vallegrande later today. It'll be nice to get out of this city. The people are not too nice here, I have to say, with certain exceptions.

Now go and read Otto and El Dude.

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