Friday, October 3, 2008

I Couldn't See That Coming

President Morales has banned the U.S. D.E.A. from flying over Bolivia, according to Xinhua. (Why, oh why does a Chinese news outlet consistently break more Bolivian news than U.S. outlets?)

"I want to publicly tell ... that they cannot authorize the DEA to fly over Bolivian territory," Morales was quoted by state news agency ABI as saying Thursday.

Good for Evo! The less U.S. meddling, the better. And that cocaine problem? I don't believe that it's a Bolivian problem as much as it is a U.S. problem. Cut the demand, and the supply will go down. Ah, but I'm a radical. I believe in peace, self-determination, equal rights--you know, the stuff that the U.S. was once supposed to stand for (although it never did).

And according to Christian World News (yeah, I know, but wait for it), "Bolivia's Missionaries Forced to Leave":

"They are trying to bring new laws, like homosexual marriages, abortion. Trying to say that family is not important and some others," [Dr. Timoteo Sanchez] said. "So we see that this is a terrible time and there is a lot of confusion on our churches."

One reason North American missionaries are feeling threatened is because they've been promoting Christian values in Bolivia for decades.

Anyone who has ever been to Latin America, and especially Bolivia, knows how deeply anti-Christian the people are here. It's neigh impossible to find a church in any town of any size. Evengelical churches are nonexistent. I believe President Evo Raul Fidel Chavez will make a presidential decree any day now banning religion. Next on his list: love. It's terrible here. (But come on down, my queer friends! It appears that Bolivia is evolving faster than the U.S., if you can believe a word in this article.)

Read that article carefully, and you'll find out that no one is really forcing the missionaries out. They're leaving on their own, after the U.S. State Department's absurd warnings and own evacuation of embassy personnel.

And finally, the best anti-Morales mural I've seen yet, found in Samaipata (which, although they are pro-autonomy here, I have to say is a groovy little town).


Lorien said...

Um, okay.

I suppose that anti-Christian, anti-evangelical concept just magically doesn't apply to Cochabamba? Otherwise, I suppose the evangelical church on Calama which has services in Spanish, Quechua, and Portuguese wouldn't be packed out every week...

Why engage in generalizations? You're not a part of that culture, which is fine, but that would probably explain your lack of experience in it. I can point to communities in Argentina, Peru, Brazil, and even Venezuela where non-Catholic Christianity is booming - and people are improving their lives. Generalizations don't help.

Anyway, most of us missionaries haven't left and have no intention to do so. It'd take something much more directly threatening. The article is strange, though. Not the first time a news agency has posted rubbish about Bolivia.

"The director of a missionary training center in Cochabamba says at least half the North American missionaries in that city have already left."

I can think of a handful of families who have left. That's it. Unless he's talking about the Mormon community, I suppose. Odd.

Lorien said...

Actually. Come to think of it, I think you were being sarcastic in that paragraph. Apologies!

It's been a very long week of project-writing. Enjoy your oh-so-fun bus trip!

mgrace said...

Ah Lorien...
Yes, heavy sarcasm there. But I still like the comments, no matter if you catch the gist or not.
Good on you guys for staying. I know we feel different, but ALWAYS take any info from the U.S. administration with a grain of salt. (I sadly have a feeling not much will change under Obama.)
My ankles are swollen after that bus ride. I think the only thing to do is to go out tonight in my wonderful La Paz! (And here I can shout "Viva Evo!" without looking over my shoulder. Actually I wouldn't do that, but at least I can talk about him without somebody pointing out that he's an Indian, in some sort of critique of his policies.)
How's Cochabamba? I was going to stop there on the way back, but I decided to shoot on through. I might be heading there this or next week to do some research. I guess tomorrow will tell what's going to happen.

Lorien said...

Oh, the gist was caught... just thirty seconds too late. Academia, ironically, causes blonde moments.

Anyway. ha. I was a senatorial intern. I'm all about salty interpretations of our government's actions and statements! Nonetheless, I do stand by my assessment that the State Dept. was correct in releasing its strong cautions simply because it's proper policy given the variables involved. Get the data out there and let people evaluate their circumstances. I don't expect significant change from either Obama or McCain... but then, I'm voting Barr.

Cochabamba is as lovely as ever. I don't yet have the experience to be able to compare it to the rest of the country, but I love it anyway. A general disease and uncertainty still exists, particularly with the threats of MAS-led blockades in the coming weeks. Because our area is traditionally untouched by violence - January 2007 was an utter shock and still seems surreal for many - life has remained pretty constant. We had that one weekend of genuine fear amongst the Cochabambinos after the Pando incident, but that's faded to duller condition. The people here are still very opinionated. A pin-prick of a political statement or question will burst a bubble of rapid-fire opinion dispensing.

Anyway, you should definitely take the time to come visit the City of Eternal Spring!

Marek Bage said...

It's interesting that of the three sources quoted in the CWN article, two are from the same Evangelical University and all three are in Santa Cruz.
Nobody here needs to be reminded of the rise of the Neo Nazi racists in that region.
In fact, the U.S. travel warnings make specific mention of this, and other, rebel hot spots as being the focus of their concerns.

I think what we're seeing here is a desire of some evangelicals to pack their bags and leave, not because Morales wants to humanise his country, but because of right wing violence.
Unfortunately, they can't help but to tell lies about their real motivations.