Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Violence of January 11 -- A Month Later

Readers:

It has been just more than a month since the streets of Cochabamba exploded in violence. Much of the news attention afterwards has focused on the politics of those events. We asked two members of our Democracy Center team, Leny Olivera and Aldo Orellana, to spend some time this past week looking at a too-soon-forgotten side of the story – what has happened to some of the more than 200 wounded January 11th. Below is their report, written with the assistance of Jonas Brown, who wrote our earlier eyewitness account of the events on the street that day.

Jim Shultz


The Violence of January 11 -- A Month Later

El Prado, Plaza Colon, and Plaza de las Banderas, sites of mob brutality on January 11th, are back to tranquil gathering spots for families and couples. The bored soldiers with automatic rifles that guarded the bridges have disappeared. Crowds armed with clubs, guns, dynamite and stones have been replaced by pre-Carnaval parades. With its flower-lined streets and slow pace, Cochabamba is particularly good at exuding peace.

But to what extent has the city actually recovered from what has been termed “Black January?” What is on people´s minds one month later?

These questions probably have as many answers as Cochabamba has inhabitants. The mainstream press has focused much of its attention on the two deaths, as evidenced by the feature story in Sunday’s Los Tiempos and the latest issue of Datos. Manfred’s international excursions to complain of human rights abuses and excesses by the Morales´ administration have also been covered -- along with the vitriolic sniping back and forth between Manfred’s camp and MAS officials.

An estimated 216 people were injured on January 11th and 12th (according to public health officials). Clinica Belga and Clinica Copacabana, two of the main private clinics in the city, each reported 8 visits by "civicos" [the name given the people who took to the streets to counter calls for Manfred Reyes Villa's resignation] injured on January 11th. Clinica San Vincente, another private clinic, reported a total of 6 injured civicos from the 11th and 12th. Hospital Viedma and the Federacion de Campesinos del Tropico de Cochabamba treated the majority of the injured. Volunteers at FCTC alone treated 52 injured campesinos.

Many journalists have gone to Viedma in hopes of finding out how many were injured from each side of the conflict. The director of the hospital has a ready answer: “We do not recognize different factions. For us, they are our patients and they deserve all of our respect.”

Only two of the injured remain hospitalized. Luciano Colque, a 36-year-old campesino, had his skull crushed in several places. Doctors told us he is very unlikely to survive. The other, Raul Claros, a 19-year-old, was injured on January 12th during an aggressive protest by students and other youth against the television station UNITEL [which they accused of accepting bribes from Reyes Villa]. Raul’s workplace happened to be nearby. When he got to work, the doors were locked. The police arrived and, fearing harm, he ducked into a nearby market, where he hid behind a counter. Soon, the concentration of tear gas forced him to look for an exit. At that point, his memories blur. Running, he felt something he thought was a stone strike him in the back.

Raul woke in the hospital 13 days later. A bullet, apparently fired by a policeman, had entered through his liver and exited through his lung. He will live but will have to wear an external drip for a year. As with most of the people of Cochabamba, though to a greater extreme, the violence sought him out, not vice versa. “When I leave the hospital,” he said, “I’m going to seek justice because we aren’t dogs and cats. We’re people like them. We’re equal.”

There is a similar outcry for justice by Manfred supporters and civicos, particularly in the case of Christian Urresti, the 17-year-old killed by machete and strangling on January 11th. Both sides want justice. Both want democracy. The familiar, difficult task ahead is coaxing these important but foggy words into focus in a way that is meaningful for vastly different peoples.

Are street protests and highway shutdowns forms of democracy, or anarchy? Should people who have been subjugated by the law for centuries be expected to seek change through exclusively ‘legal’ processes? Is Morales becoming—or has he already become—the wielder of illicit power he once made his name by protesting against? After the mass violence, how does each side find the middle ground between granting impunity and exacting vengeance? These are a few of the questions simmering in Cochabamba, and Bolivia, one month later.

Edwin Claros, an official of the Cochabamba Assembly on Human Rights told us, of the legacy of January 11, "The people want peace, they want those events not to occur again here. Politics brought us to the deaths of two citizens, Cristian Urresti and Juan Tica Colque. We are all in agreement now that what the country needs is peace."

Written by Leny Olivera, Aldo Orellana, and Jonas Brown.

63 Comments:

Anonymous bryan said...

Peace would be a wonderful thing. But can multi-ethnic democracies truly work??

2:06 AM  
Anonymous El Grindio said...

Here in greater Los Angeles/Orange County, there are communities called Little Odessa, Little Saigon, Thai Town, Little Armenia, Little Cambodia and Little Persia. Not to mention that Hispanics (mainly Mexican and Salvadorian) are about half the population of Los Angeles, I think our multi-ethnic democracy works.

But then we keep a tight reign on our clannish Croats, so they don't go back to their ethnic-cleansing ways that is unfettered and a path to political power in Santa Cruz. :-)

5:25 AM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Can a diverse democracy work? Of course... given enough time... and abandonment of older thinking and methodologies.

My father-in-law is Bolivian and is currently preparing his move back to La Paz from the States. Therefore, we have quite a bit of family down there. It's surprising to hear some of the thoughts about the "Indios" that come from many people out there. I would say it parallels the thought process for many Americans towards the Black population in the US in the first 60 years of the 1900s. Only in the past 50 years or so, has the feelings changed here. Much of this is due to change of thought process (and, of course, the tireless work of many people such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and many unnamed activists).

Conversely, methodology of the Bolivian poor must change as well. I think statements such as:

"Should people who have been subjugated by the law for centuries be expected to seek change through exclusively ‘legal’ processes?"

As was written above can only hurt the cause of both parties. After all, double standards are how Bolivia got to its present situation isn't it???

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim: How this is written Raul was a hero and Christian a victim. Like my little daughter says "stop it". Don’t de hypocrite; put the words you would really want to put, “Raul was a hero and Christian a victim”.

8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure Jim thinks poor Raul is 100% honest in his tale. He is no victim or hero. He is a bully, and thank God he got punished. The Unitel propesters were paid goons, whose objective was to attack the media. How ironic that someone who uses violence to silence the press is hailed a hero in this so called democracy center.

What I would like to know more about is if any of you can post some reports of the desecration cadavers of "elites" and "neo-liberals" suffer get when the campesinos manage to get their hands on them. It really is morally reprehensible anyone would defend such savages.

8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damas y Caballeros,

More proof (above) that some people can find a way to read things that aren't there into ANYTHING.

How does reporting that someone claimed to be avoiding police fire or being beaten up (by either side) make him out to be a hero?

Perhaps the real operative words here are, "give it a rest".

9:32 PM  
Anonymous El Grindio said...

Yikes! When providing evidence that our multi-ethnic democracy works, I forgot that economic powerhouse of an ethnic enclave, "Koreatown", and "Little India" along with that community of great downtown restaurants, "Chinatown". Please add them to my list of "Little Odessa", "Little Saigon", "Thai Town", "Little Armenia", "Little Cambodia" and "Little Persia".

El Gindio refuses to let Bush get all the laughs when he recently claimed the "surge" has things going good now in Iraq despite that we will now be getting 7,000 Sunni Iraqi refugees. Since that is only the beginning, if relocated here, should that community be called:
A) "Little Fallujah" or
B) "Little Sunni Triangle"? :-)

11:01 PM  
Blogger Norman said...

I try to avoid bringing faith into the discussion for obvious reasons, but I was going through this coming Sunday’s readings. All three readings talk about taking a different path; not seeking “justice”. In the first reading, David, yet to be king, spares Saul’s life while Saul is hunting him. The Gospel is the one that talks about turning the other cheek. It sounds so easy when you talk about someone slapping you. It is so much more difficult, almost impossible, when you talk about a murdered teen or taking a bullet in the back. I remember when Evo was inaugurated; he talked about not being vindictive. That would be the first step; to not cry “Justice!” It’s all you seem to hear in Bolivia nowadays. It usually means revenge. What do you think Raul meant when he said he would seek justice? When you interviewed him, did it seem that he meant finding the alleged offender and bringing him to trial, or do you think he meant an eye for an eye? Were there any victims who were willing to forego “justice”? Were there any willing to even forgive? I know; pretty sappy post. I just wonder sometimes.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Norman said...

ref www.usccb.org/nab/021807.shtml

11:10 PM  
Anonymous culito blanco said...

the ex-marine turned born again catholic has spoken, the trap is set. i'm not biting, I respect your faith (though I reserve the right to poke fun at it (-:)

my real point here is to complain that Jim has not said a word yet about the new gas contracts to Brazil! this biased coverage of only negative current events must stop!!

11:39 PM  
Anonymous Carlos Fidel said...

Bryan asks: Can multiethnic democracies truly work?
Please complete the question "work for what purpose?"
What we see about foreign intervention in all countries at war today is that the least ethnic difference can be put to work for creating chaos and a complete rupture of the institutional organization, while the so called "damned multinational companies" still make profits, much larger than if these countries were in a more peaceful condition.
Therefore, if the question is: does it work for obscure purposes of people like George Soros (who probably funds the Democracy Center and similar NGOs), the answer is clearly - Yes Sir, indeed it does work marvels.
So why do we Bolivians keep hosting these organizations, knowing that their ultimate purpose is the destruction of our country?
Remember the bolivian saying. "Money will make the monkey dance", or "Play stupid and you will be happy" (Hazte el cojudo y serás feliz).
So I guess the answer is that we are on a road to knowhere. We play a game, a fiasco created by powerful people. And these games sometimes go bezerk, like it did with O. BenLaden.
If someone can prove me wrong, I will appreciate the arguments.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

R.I.P

Anna Nicole Smith,

You will not be forgotten.

11:14 AM  
Anonymous bryan said...

It is fitting that after asking a question like, "can multi-ethnic democracies work?" That a number of posts went on to argue which of the two men that died that day is a bigger martyr. In the literature on multi-ethnic democracies there are two competing points of view-- the primordialist and the instrumentalist. The primordial perspective focuses on the strength of ethnic identity and claims that the presence of ethnic divisions in a nation is a sufficient condition for the occurrence of ethnic violence. The instrumentalist camp believes that socio-economic and political factors are the major motivating cause of ethnic conflict. Now to believe in the primordialist point of view is kind of a depressing prospect as it means we will be fighthing amongst each other here on earth until the end of time. The instrumentalist view seems to be more plausible. Look at Bolivia and the income disparities between ethnic groups... Then if you add into the equation the fact that Bolivia is rich in natural resources- it is not surprising that there is conflict.. How is this conflict solved? Maybe by dialogues on interculturalism and multi-culturalism, or creating effective revenue sharing mechanisms for revenues derived from natural resources.. But will the people of Bolivia get beyond arguing about who is the bigger martyr and make their multi-ethnic democracy work? If they don't they will not be the only country to fail.. Ethnic conflicts rage all over the globe. Sri Lanka, Iraq, Assam (India) Xinjiang (China) the Balkans, Nigeria, Sudan the list goes on and on. How to make multi-ethnic societies/democracies work is the most pressing issue of our time.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Justo Perez said...

It is not necessary to dominate complex socio-economic theories or blame "malefic organizations" like the IMF or the WB to understand the reason why Bolivia is a poor country when it shouldn't be that way. The reason is very simple... no one in Bolivia (beginning with the president) respects the LAW. It doesn't matter how many times you create a new constitution because at the end no one will abide by it. This simple but powerful fact is what allows developed countries and developing contries like Chile and Peru to function and to be on the path to economic prosperity and equality for their citizens.
Unfortunately, Evo Morales has decided to step on the laws to obtain his anti-democratic objectives throwing away the great expectations many in the world had for him as the second (the first one was Toledo of Peru) indian to win a democratic election in LA.

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well said Justo...the keys to becoming a developed country are no secret and are known by everybody.

Unfortunately, people like Jim, SS, Evo, etc. etc. still insist in condeming more and more people to povery by advocating really stupid and foolish things. Cuba and Venezuela are countries we should emulate according to them. Forget S. Korea, Singapore, Ireland, Costa Rica , Chile, or even mighty China.

The fact that most of these countries will become developed, rich nations in about a generation SHOULD be ignored. These countries after all followed the precepts of the WTO, IMF, WB, et al.

And to Jim, Evo and the like, obtaining properity in this manner is unacceptable. To them, re-establishing the tahauntisuyo is worth far more than the lives of mestizos and criollos.

Rule of Law....please. Most of the country is now under justicia comunitaria now. Just listen to Linera's quote about the legal recourse available to Glencore: "nos tiene sin cuidado"

Well at least they have Eichman's like Jim ready to spread their lies and blame the IMF. Jim gets paid handsomely in the process, while the most vulnerable are lied to. Rule of Law.....if Bolivians actually cared about progressing it would so simple, you're right. Sorry Justo it just ain't so. Pachakuti is at play now.

7:14 PM  
Anonymous Justo Perez said...

Couldn't agree more with the previous comment. The reason why I mentioned neighboring Peru as an example of a country on the correct path towards sustained economic growth and progress (8.03% GDP growth in 2006)is because it's very similar to Bolivia (Bolivia was a part of Peru) and its population suffered the bestiality of two terrorist marxist organizations for two decades. These people know very painfully (60,000 dead people) what marxism really brings.

8:20 PM  
Anonymous soapbox sam said...

The thing about your comments, gentlemen, is that they are no different than what any old dunce with half a brain and a semester in global economics 101- taught by a Friedman suckup-would regurgitate whether we were talking about Bolivia, Zimbabwe or Cambodia. Not that you are wrong, just not very creative.

And it's easiest to disagree when we try to fit a whole worldview into a couple of paragraphs. Which brings me to a Mahatma Gandhi quote which has been on my mind this week:

"Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress."

For example, with all your neoliberal talk, I would assume you voted for Tuto last year (if you had the chance). Now, it seems impossible to find anybody these days who is completely opposed to the government's gas policy (not to use the controversial term nationalization). But Tuto did not advertise nationalization, and he probably would not have taken the same course.

So Tuto voters would appear to support a policy that Tuto was running directly against, right? As usual, the details are in the nuance. In reality, both sides wanted a fair policy and greater income for the country. The honest differences were about the exact technical and legal procedure over a one year period. On the other hand, this big talk about ideology, the fate of a generation, and overarching ethnic differences, were nothing but obstacles towards our common goal.

12:04 AM  
Anonymous Carlos Fidel said...

soap(less)box, says "Not that you are wrong..." Who is not wrong? (Please) and creative?

Ok, then these so-called neoliberals are now supporting the gas policy? What is to support? A policy with contracts that raise the numbers for taxes while leaving the reimbursements blank (for the companies to fill in when they are ready)?
GET IT INTO YOUR BOX PEOPLE... THE CONTRACTS ARE A HOAX!
Otherwise the companies simply would NOT SIGN. Nobody is putting a gun to their head, (at least not yet).
So leaving insults aside, I wish to restate my question. Am I wrong about the real purpose of leftist organizations in Bolivia and Latin America? Are they not simply an instrument to disarm the capabilities for progress and the construction of a more sober society with effective policies for development?

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May I throw my few shillings worth in support of Soapbox Sam. I am by no means a supporter of everything Evo & his folk are doing in Bolivia, & share a lot of the concerns others have about the authoritarian aspects of his tenure in office.

But guys, I find those who purport a blind faith in a pure capitalist model (whatever that is, even in the US you’ll find plenty of examples of protectionism, lobbying, public intervention – not the best indicators of a free-market policy) almost as irritating as those who preach Marxism, communism etc as the only solution for Bolivia.

There are many roads open to Bolivia, & this young country has to find its own way my friends.

Intelligent people, as I assume most of us are, should be able to envisage a way ahead for Bolivia that doesn’t come straight out of any textbook.

The day we think everything has already been written & invented is the day we might as well give up using our own brains, as there’ll be nothing for us to add.

Jack



A couple of sidenotes:

Justo Perez – you touch an important point I think when you say one of the reasons for Bolivia’s problems has been the disrespect for the law, starting from those in power. Bad examples have been set, yes. The next bit loses me though, it sounds almost as if you resign yourself to this always having to be the case. It doesn’t have to be like that Justo, & we’re not going to get anywhere if we don’t think we can change things. This fatalism, for me, is another of Bolivia’s ills, not to mention something that allows unlawfulness to prosper. Things gotta change buddy, & that means starting by never even thinking of relinquishing the defence of democracy, the law, the very things that hold up everything else we try to build on top.

Anon 6.14 .- I don’t agree with what you say about the countries you mention as if their reason for success has been simply following the IMF, WB, WTO. South Korea (I lived there for some years) their economic model was built through a very close relationship between the political parties & a few chaebol – huge enterprises that could compete in the global market. Lots of trade barriers & restrictions on foreign investment (since relaxed obviously once they were strong enough to do so), not a good free market example. Singapore - its success largely a result of capitalizing on its fortunate geography, big port available on the most important shipping lane in the world. Ireland – an aggressive low-tax policy has been the most significant factor. Problem applying this in Bolivia though, Bolivia has almost no tax revenue.. Before you start lowering taxes you need to make sure people are paying what they should! Costa Rica I’ll waiver on as don’t know enough about it. Chile (lived there too) lots of success yes if you ask me I think underpinning it all was a country that had a strong legal framework – both for Chileans & those investing from abroad – which was respected (tight controls, not easy to evade these). China (who only joined the WTO a few years ago btw…) again lots of government – private sector coordination, loads of barriers & restrictions on foreign investment whilst they equipped themselves & copied everything they could to get their industries moving, not to mention sheer size, a crushing crucial factor. What do they all in have in common? Understanding their time & place in the world, & using this to their best advantage. Bolivia can do this too, & that doesn’t mean having to copy any textbook theory.

Lastly Anon – have a look at the “Blind Economic Theology” thread for a better description of the Glencore case.I’m not a huge fan of AGL but re. “the rule of law” the Vinto case may not have been the best example you could find…

12:55 PM  
Anonymous soapbox sam said...

no mean to insult, Fidel. I have honestly heard the same coming from friends from around the world who know nothing about Bolivia, based soley on a couple of college courses, and hearing that we have a commie Indian in power.

I am interested in hearing how the contracts are a hoax... I'm not too smart about these tax level and blank reimbursement things. Do you mean that in 2006, Bolivia did not obtain millions of $ more than in 2005 from the gas companies? That in the next few years we will be not be getting additional hundreds of millions of duros? If that is the case, not only I, but all of the major and independent media, and a huge segement of our population is being bamboozled! If you would care to explain without throwing ideology and speculation- since your last post did not contain a shred of evidence beyond speculation- we would all listen.

3:27 PM  
Anonymous justo perez said...

Soapbox Sam, simple and to the point works for me even though it might not seem "creative" enough for you. There is nothing new or creative to discover in terms of achieving economic growth and prosperity. There is NO serious discussion to determine wether socialism or capitalism is the way to go. Socialism is long dead because of its disastrous results. Of course there are a few idiots here and there talking about the 21st century socialism while their countries crumble apart but that is a whole other story.
The real issue is to determine what strategies inside the parameters of a market oriented economy every country will follow based on their competitive advantages. I think Jack made an interesting analysis of a number of specific countries. At the end, all of them have used different approaches to make their economies competitive in the global world.
Jack, I am not "fatalistic", all the opposite. I have tremendous faith in LA and its people. You just have to walk the streets of any city of this beautiful continent to see that there are millions of micro entrepeneurs producing , selling and buying products and services. They just need a simple set of rules that are respected to turn that enourmous potential into prosperity.

Justo

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obtaining better prices for Bolivia's gas is a good thing of course, but is it a great accomplishment for the government? Let's not forget that when these contracts were negotiated the price of oil was below $10 a barrel and now we are looking at $60. In this scenario everything is possible. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that Bolivia will obtain more $ in the future but I think the same or more could have been negotiated without the stupid military take over and subsequent rise of the country's risk factor for investors.
Gas revenues are great but at the end don't create desperately needed jobs for Bolivians. Those are created by national and foreign companies investing in a peaceful and investor friendly environment.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Justo,

There is no question that capitalism has proved itself the most successful system for creating wealth & economic development. Great system it’s been, particularly for those of us lucky to grow up in the richer parts of the world in the 20th century. And great system it will be for those that can latch on in the next few decades.

But nothing necessarily works for ever &, to be frank, I suspect that within the next few decades, a lot of people who have so far been propagating free-market capitalism as the panacea for all the world’s ills may start to sing a different tune. Why?

Two reasons really. One, environmental issues. The world is starting to get too small, population levels too high, resources too finite, & the environmental impact of continuous unharnessed economic growth on being able to live on this planet at some point not too far away (our children or our grandchildren’s generation…) too heavy.

Secondly, the very countries that have learned to adopt capitalism from the West will one day not too far from now become more powerful than their masters. BRIC countries for example, but others will emerge as second tier powers & they may not all have interests that coincide with the rich west. Economic development means production capability, technology, wealth, nice big defence budgets to protect your interests. The whole balance of power in this world will shift.

Call me a dummy if you like but I suspect more & more we’ll find the rich capitalist west looking to defend itself with a whole bunch of rules, regulations, policies & whatnot to protect its interests & maintain acceptable living standards for its citizens..

Kind of like what’s happening in Bolivia now my friend. Finding an acceptable trade-off between the interests of a priviledged minority & an ever stronger, & less-controllable, majority.

Funny isn’t it how things can turn around?

With Bolivia a microcosm for the world 50 years from now, I don’t know what the right new model will be for Bolivia or the world, but it sure will entail some kind of compromise, something which “survival of the fittest” systems can only, by their definition, offer to the fittest (&, ouch that’s unlikely to be us!).

Sorry if I drifted off into a wider scenario, & my best to you in LA, beautiful & dynamic city on the Pacific shores, theatre presumably for a lot more things in future . Me, I live in what once was the home of one of the greatest empires the world has ever known, now it’s just a romantic place people like to visit, one of the reasons why I like to try to keep things in their historical perspective.

Jack

6:22 PM  
Anonymous El Grindio said...

Jack,
Don't "drift" and drive. You "drifted" and confused Justo's reference to Latin America as LA to being a reference to Los Angeles. Also, please clarify as to your "historical perspective". You wrote that you live in "a romantic place" that "once was one of the greatest empires the world has known". Do you live in Italy? France didn't have "one of the greatest empires" and England is not romantic. :-)

11:24 PM  
Anonymous justo perez said...

Jack, thank you for your interesting view. I agree with you. The future seems uncertain and foggy but can also be seen as a world of new opportunities as millions of people in the these emerging countries begin to enjoy the benefits of prosperity and are not willing to follow irresponsible populists who come, destroy everything and then retire to confortable exiles.
I definitely don't agree with the many people who try to explain Bolivia's structural poverty by thinking that it is the result of conflict between a small white minority that "takes" all the wealth and a vast majority of poor indians who don't have any opportunities. This is just too simple and comes from either people who know the country only by papers and TV reports or by people who benefit from this situation. The reality is that many of the "rich" in Bolivia are indians who have succeded in business or as professionals. There is nothing in Bolivia that prevents anyone to ascend in the socioeconomic ladder because of the ethnic origin and whoever says so is not being truthful. Being white does not insure you any type of special privileges or welfare either. But all this simplistic theory sounds very appealing and curious to many good harted people in Europe and the US who are willing to donate tons of $ for these "poor exploited indians" and the "good old" ONGs know that perfectly. I also apologize for drifting on to other waters.


Justo

11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification E-G! There I was thinking Justo was a neighbour of yours in Hollywood silly me. And chapeau to you for the canny deduction, you’re obviously not just a smart lawyer, your fellow ctizen Detective Colombo would be most proud of you siree. City of popes & gladiators Grindio. Talking of which, Norm, when you coming here? Ben 16’s been asking where you been, he was glad to hear the disillusioned bit referred to the political line, not the faith (me not so sure… well kidding a bit but I’ll leave it there, if there’s one thing I find harder to figure out than politics it’s religion, so to each his own.)

Justo,
Your waters are Ok for me, I go along with what you say in as far as yes there is no total & absolute impediment to anyone to improve his lot in Bolivia (or anywhere else for that matter). That’s one of the great things America has taught the world, we CAN have a say in our destiny.

But if we had the choice to select, before birth, what race we could be in the country we were to be born in, I think few would choose to be an indio in Bolivia, or a negro in the US. It ain’t impossible to get out the proverbial “ghetto”, but you do start with less & sure have more obstacles along the way.

In Bolivia though, I agree, the plundering that there’s been I would read less under racial lines & more under the simple lack of ethics from those that have been in power. Sure, few of these were indigenous, but they weren’t stealing because the colour of their skin made them do it, they did it because it was accepted practice, those that came before you did it, those that came after you would also do it, you get rich doing it, follow that logic & you’d be stupid not to either. This is an issue close to my heart, I live in a country where the same mentality, prevalent not only among the political class, has created huge problems, thankfully now it’s being addressed but it’s a difficult mind-set to eradicate. I hope Bolivia can move this way too.

As for the NGO’s & the good-hearted people of the rich West, I don’t know if I got your point but if I did I’m not sure I agree with you. I don’t like spouters of any ideology either Justo, simply because I think the world is too complex, & human beings too intelligent, for us to need to see everything under just one set of eyeglasses. But the world is getting small & there are important differences between the haves & the have nots all over the place. One day this little baby could explode. Those of us on the lucky side cannot just abandon the others, THEIR problem is, or will be, also OUR problem.

Anyone (be it a donator from the rich world, an NGO, a doctor, a nun, an agronomist or whatever) that contributes something to helping the less fortunate with their problems is also working on our problem. I won’t necessarily agree with all or even much of their political or religious views, but that don’t stop me from recognizing they could be doing some good in the world.

My best,
Jack

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Carlos Fidel said...

Soapbox, reimbursements means tax returns. Before, taxes were calculated on gross transactions. Now tax is on net income, so all costs and investments have to be reported by the companies. Of course under the implacable scrutiny of the contraloría and oil regulation agency (super). The contracts have to be registered in the public notay until March. The senate asked for a full report, but the gov. needs to correct a few "typos" on all 40 of them. Strange.
To Jack, I think your comment is very close to what a career coach would say to a young professional on his first day at an international NGO. Yes, it is good to help the rest of the world, but it would do a greater benefit to support a more benevolent trade policy in the US or Europe. Same as with coca, we should get rid of the junkies and then we may help the producers get out of an economical hole because there is no more demand for coca leaves.
But we know that is not the purpose, right?
As for those of you on the lucky side, well, see the problem is that you are blinded by ideology and "comfort". I ask, didn't you see the towers fall? The bombs in London? in Madrid? It's not about "lucky" it's all about INTENTIONS. And these days, intentions are too difficult to hide.
So, on the question.... anyone...?

11:23 AM  
Anonymous justo perez said...

Jack, it's comforting to know that you do have a very profound understanding of the causes of Bolivia's structural poverty and the real problems it faces as a nation. People like you are not easy to find and help to mitigate the misconceptions created by sources of information like this website.
I'd like to clarify my position regarding the NGOs. Let me tell you that I have the greatest respect for the socially conscious citizens of the "lucky side" who are willing to share some of their wealth with the less fortunate in the poor countries and for the many people who truly care and work in these countries as volunteers, experts, religious people, etc. My father spent great part of his life as one of them and truly made a difference for the people of the many places where he was assigned as a advisor in agricultural matters. On the other hand, I despise those who use the tremendous needs and suffering of the poor as an excuse for, in some cases , their own political agendas (obviously making lots of $$$ in the process) and in other cases just to make a great living with the money they collect for their "social work". Unfortunately, these crooks have created a bad image of the term NGO and luckily there are now many efforts on the way to establish control over the way they handle their finances and operations. Another questionable group is made up of those who, like Mr. Shultz, provide a biased and distorted account of the struggles Bolivia is going through in favor of this authoritarian and anti-democratic government as a part of their liberal agenda against corporations like Bechtel and institutions like the IMF and WB. I was directed to this website by a worried bolivian lady who was infuriated by the way the "democratic center" was reporting about the tragic events created by Evo Morales and his political party in Cochabamba. As you say, we have many challenges ahead of us in the world in order to reduce the gap between rich and poor and making better use of donations would be a great start.

Justo

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Justo,

With reference to your comment above:

"Another questionable group is made up of those who, like Mr. Shultz, provide a biased and distorted account of the struggles Bolivia is going through in favor of this authoritarian and anti-democratic government as a part of their liberal agenda against corporations like Bechtel and institutions like the IMF and WB."

Could you be precise about the aspects of The Center's reports on the Bechtel, the IMF and WB that are inaccurate on the facts?

I always see commenters saying this about The Center here but never backed by any specifics. I presume since you make the charge you have some specific inaccuracies in mind. Sharing those here would help others of us evaluate whether what you are saying is true.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if carlos fidel could actually explain what his question is maybe somebody would answer. you make many half-statements, from coca to towers, ngo’s, gas, bin laden & soros without explaining what you’re trying to say. try to make a single point and reason it through then maybe someone can understand you.

and if you take the trouble to re-post at least answer the simple questions people (like soapbox) make you. what evidence do you have for your accusation the gas contracts are a big hoax? let us in on the big secret. if you work with these contracts and know something special then please explain. but if you just want to rant and rave you’re like a million other people on the web no-one’s going to pay much attention to.

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Justo.

On the incidents in Cochabamba, if it’s of comfort to to you, I don’t agree with the Democracy Center’s line on things either. Personally I would allocate more responsibility to the Evo side and substantially less to Manfred’s.

Evo is in power now & I don’t think he needs to, or should, resort to undue agitation & use of blockades, setting on fire of the prefecture’s office etc. So I agree with your worried Bolivian lady friend, maybe the reaction from the people in Cochabamba will help Evo & MAS understand they can & should work in a different way for the country now.

Another specific often forgotten by the Democracy Center, as far as I understand it was perfectly legitimate for Manfred, or anyone else for that matter, to ask for a referendum. On anything you want. You just need to round up 50 odd thousand votes & be prepared to finance it as far as I know. Sure, Manfred’s announcement was politically calculated & provocative in that sense. But it was legitimate. The reaction against this was not, it’s easy to forget, after many years of using illegitimate means such as road blockades & so-on, that these are not actually legally sactionable methods for getting what you want, the boundaries get blurred, & some people can start to think they’re ok. They’re not.

I could turn half a blind eye to what was done in the past, when Evo & his folk were not in power. But doing it now that they’re in government I think would be a mistake. And I think that’s why so many people in Cochabamba, & not only there, came out on the streets & expressed a desire for things to be sorted out in a different way.

On the IMF, that’s a whole different ball-game which maybe we can discuss some other time. But I’m not sure I agree with you. I don’t demonise them, it’s just that they haven’t got a very good track record in helping out the poor countries of the world. Not all their fault for sure, incompetent & corrupt governments have also contributed but – if you want me to put my reservations in a simple nutshell – they do have a “one size fits all” recipe for success that hasn’t worked often enough to convince me other options may not work better.

Sometimes it comes down to simple basics. Defending your national interests (no-one knows better what these are & have an inherent interest in protecting them than the country itself), implementing the policies you think are right for the country rather than taking in a closed box the IMF’s recipe, bargaining a bit harder, finding alternatives if you think the deal you’re being offered isn’t the best one available etc etc

Only Bolivia can defend Bolivia’s interests, guys don’t ever be a slave to any one master, or even their ideas…

Jack

4:31 PM  
Anonymous El Grindio said...

Emperor Jack Is Wearing No Clothes

Jack boldly claims and accuses:
"Another specific often forgotten by the Democracy Center, as far as I understand it was perfectly legitimate for Manfred, or anyone else for that matter, to ask for a referendum."

Jack has shown himself to be challenged as to reading comprehension, as previously pointed out to him by myself and graciously admitted by him. Now he shows his accusation above to be naked of truth, facts or research on his part. As we all know, the Democracy Center shows itself to research controversial issues before posting a blog. Often they post links to their research. You, the reader of this, know that because their reasoned and researched blog is why you are likely reading these words.

Since even Manfred admitted his referendum was unconstitutional, it is unlikely they would print slick Jack's "understanding" that "it was perfectly legitimate for Manfred, or anyone else for that matter, to ask for a referendum."

Do the cursory research, Jack. Start with posts on this blog if you do not know how to research.

Logic dictates that constitutional issues are not personal issues once can do over every six months or every day like in the movie "Groundhog Day". Under your foggy understanding, if a referendum were held then the loser could ask for another referendum the following month.

Not only is your understanding illogical and advocating a constitutional violation, it is morally repugnant because it invalidates the referendum votes of the most vulnerable victims of Cochabamba's citizenry. The ones who are denied basic services like sewers, water and police stations because all the money goes to the zona norte and allegedly to construction projects that pay a 30% commission. (An allegation worthy of investigation.)

Your post reminds me of the arguments by successful crooked lawyers. The secret to their success was sincerity. Once they could fake that they had it made.

Your post was naked of due diligence on your part before you sought to taint Jim and his team's thoughtful and carefully researched blog. And I smell a rat who shields debate regarding Manfred's conduct.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Carlos Fidel said...

In response to some who didn´t understand, I clarify that all my comments are related to my question, which is: Can anyone provide solid arguments for rebating that leftist or "human rights" organizations, specially those with international funding, are actually instruments of the multinational companies for the purpose of destabilizing governments and societies, in order to have easier access to the natural resources of poor countries?
Now on to 9/11 and other terrorist attacks I mentioned: These are chosen simply as reference points to what has happened to certain kind of foreign aid provided to Afghanistan decades ago. It backfired did it not? And can you specify what forces were at work for this to happen? Did the US have any control over them? Maybe if we didn´t hit Baghdad in 98 (99?)So, this terrorist attacks I think should be a good enough call for people in the "lucky" side to sober up. Of course you may choose to play deaf, but surely not surprised, after all, do donors have any guarantees that their money will actually be spent in a good cause? And forget for one minute about poor dark skinned human beings. What is so glorious about helping raise an unprepared "sindicatero" who is linked to drug traffic activities to power? Is that building democracy from the ground up? Sounds more like crushing democracies against the ground.
Concerning the contracts, my good friends, should I get one copy and email it to you, or to CNN? Or should I play it like Evo did when he rejected to go to public debate with other candidates? I´ll sleep on it.

9:03 PM  
Anonymous soapbox sam said...

hmm, dissapointing. you are answering your own question, Fidel. If you cannot provide in a simple paragraph explaining how the contracts are a hoax and will not report millions of extra dollars to the government-which you haven't- then "leftists and NGO's" are actually succeeding in getting a better rent from our natural resources from the multinational companies.

Let me clarify

Solid argument: Leftist and human rights organizations contributed throughout the last decade to a partial shift in political power away from traditional European elites towards mass movements and their leaders, some of whom harnessed the momentum into Congressional seats and eventually the Presidency. The rising power groups were not afraid of raising taxes on gas companies, and they did so.

The increased taxes and revenue for Bolivia prove that these organizations are not helping multinational companies obtain easier access to our natural resources.

So it doesn't matter what we may speculate about the intentions or funding of leftist and human rights organizations, the results are obvious. Unless, of course, CNN proves me wrong tomorrow (you may have to tell me about it, I don't watch CNN (-:)

1:09 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

interesting - the Council on Foreign Relations put out a piece today which references this post: http://www.cfr.org/publication/12669/bolivias_turmoil.html
It also has a link to a recent special report on Bolivia.

3:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

E-G,

My comment about the possible legitimacy of Manfred’s proposal to call for a new referendum was based on what I understand was the process available. Let me explain..

As far as I know it’s the Corte Nacional Electoral who decides such norms. Not Manfred or Evo, not Jim, much less you & me. Basically, I believe anyone can call a referendum as long as you’re ready to put up the costs for it & can round up enough signatures. For a departamental referendum using this cabildo method you need 8% of registered voters (whereas for a national one it’s 6% & a municipal one 10%), check this link if you like :

http://comunica.gov.bo/index.php?i=noticias_texto&j=20070111174032

I also believe there’s another option, available to elected representatives of a constituency (President at national level, prefect at department etc) who can call a referendum without gathering these signatures, it’s the so-called metodo unilateral. You & me can’t use this method, but our elected reps can.

As far as I recall Manfred consulted with the CNE & got the green light from them. The following link, as well as the one above, support this.

http://radiofides.com/noticiasesp_proc.asp?ID=3119

If the above is correct (I never questioned the Democracy Center’s research by the way but I can’t recall them covering this issue on the blog) then Manfred had a perfectly legitimate claim to propose another referendum. And he took the cabildo option when he could have gone unilateral..

Now don’t get me wrong Grindio, on the fact that this could have been interpreted as a provocation I agree with the Democracy Center, as I also do on their analysis of Manfred’s real motives (to get on the national political scene).

Where I part company with them (& you) is in defending the duty of EVERYONE to stay within the rules of the democratic system. I don’t think what was done, particularly if legitimate, should permit anyone to block roads, burn public buildings etc just because they don’t like something. Make the boundaries too fuzzy & anyone can do anything Grindio. A better way of reacting to the provocation would have been to simply go to the new vote (if & when it had been called, the request for permission to the CNE didn’t even mean it had to be held..) & trounce Manfred once again. He’d in that way also most likely have lost any chances of being voted in again as Prefect. They’d have really screwed him that way. They could simpy have called his bluff Grindio..

A couple more things. At the time of the conflicts I was a little alarmed, & I don’t think I was the only one, about the way things were going in Bolivia, the overly autocratic posturing from Evo/MAS. When someone gets too bossy, it’s quite natural to look for a foil. Remember the context, there was high tension all over Bolivia, a somewhat antagonistic stance from MAS (I can point you to claims made by the Poder Ejecutivo even denying that a Prefect had any right to call a referendum, remember then the counter from Evo to call a referendum to oust any prefects he didn’t like, the move on Paredes etc etc it seemed that they needed to have their way on EVERYTHING at any cost for a while). This is not what I, & many others, want from a democratically elected government.

In this context, I think it’s legitimate to argue that some coverage on Jim’s blog of the possible legitimacy of the new referendum proposal (which I don’t recall seeing & which by virue of its being precisely what triggered off the anti-Manfred reaction should have been covered…) rather than just focussing on its provocational aspects (do that & you become a slave to provocation), a more strenuous defence of the tools of democracy from BOTH sides, & a bit less indulgence of all-too-frequent abuse of illegitimate methods, would have given a more complete picture.

Grindio, defending double standards whilst pointing the finger at the other side, however laudable your initial motivating principles are, puts you on shaky ground. Keep doing it, & you eventually become as bad as your alleged culprits. Jim, & you too most likely, are smart enough to understand this.

One last wee incision on your affirmation that “even Manfred admitted his referendum was unconstitutional”. I may be wrong but I think what he actually said was that “if it was unconstitutional then he wouldn’t press ahead with it”. That’s kind of different Grindio & I reckon you’re definitely smart enough to tell the difference.

Bolivia’s a young & compulsive country, like a teenager in political terms. Sure you need to give a teenager the chance to grow, try things out, make mistakes, I’m open to all these, but the odd ground-rule, line of guidance when things go astray, can actually be useful.

My own teenager, I don’t let him burn my house, much less a house that belongs to everyone. What about you Grindio? Where do you stand?

Now I gotta go & stick some clothes on, you Grindio.. put the matches & petrol away.. you don’t need them my friend

Jack

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

interesting analogy...Einstein once said that nationalism was a disease countries have when they are teens...or something along those lines

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Carlos Fidel said...

Soapbox, why I sense a great deal of discomfort with what I put on the table. Seems like a simple question can actually make some of you supporters of corrupt and phony charity twitch and turn like a threatened worm.
Please READ my explanation of how these contracts are a hoax. I already explained, then you asked for evidence and I suggested sending you a copy of the contract. Now you want explaining again?
What shows your lack of interest in really helping these so called "mass movements" is that you carelessly answer the question with a supposedly strong argument and follow with a blow: "Unless, of course, CNN proves me wrong tomorrow..." - The fact is you don´t really know at all if your efforts ( a whole decade, was it not?) will actually help Bolivians get more food on their table, and probably you don't care either. Of course you need to show your dogma: "I don´t watch CNN". That´s how you people identify each other isn´t it?
Please try again... if you think it is necessary, I am about through with this conversation.

10:31 PM  
Anonymous soapbox sam said...

My discomfort is with your lack of rational argument process, and apparent ignorance of the same. Again, here are your counter arguments to the simple fact that Bolivia raised taxes and will get more money: "taxes are reimbursements" "reimbursements means tax returns" "costs and investments are reported by companies".

You are speaking mumbo jumbo, mon frere. You may as well have been done after the first post. Boring!

1:59 AM  
Blogger Norman said...

Well I had to go back andre-read the entire thread to follow this argument. Let me see if I have this right: Soapbox, the Bolivian government is reporting massive increases in tax revenues from the petro firms. Carlos, you believe that this is more show than substance; that at the end of the tax year, the foreign companies will be able to file for massive refunds on the taxes they've paid into the system. As such, whil the Bolivian government will have appeared to have won a major economic battle, it will in fact be a ruse. You have access to some of these contracts backing your claim. Actually, I wouldn't mind seeing this myself. It would answer a lot of questions as to why we are not seeing the threatened legal actions. my email is in my profile.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the succinct summary of what was a difficult argument for me too to follow Norman! Reading back with the help of your decoding if I understood Carlos’ line correctly, it doesn’t sound like we’re talking about “tax refunds” as such. As far as I know corporate tax is always paid on net income or profit, or a version of this. Not on sales or “gross transactions”. So if in Bolivia companies are now being taxed on profits rather than sales I don’t see anything strange with this. Ofcourse, in order to declare the profits you made (for your tax declaration) you’ll obviously need to report not only the sales, but also your costs & investments made. Again, normal. That the breakdown between costs & investments has to be made is again quite standard financial reporting procedure, & all the more so if the capital you have actually invested (to be distinguished from the cash you have spent to cover your normal operating costs) can qualify you for tax refunds or the like. Which I hope they can, it would incentivise foreign investment in Bolivia if investments made by companies there can qualify for tax benefits.

So I’m not sure I get where the “ruse”is..

As often, the proof I guess will be in the pudding. Let’s wait & see what the Bolivian state collects in corporation tax this year & compare with previous years.

Jack

1:19 PM  
Anonymous soapbox sam said...

so it seems that is what he is saying. I thought the implication was that the companies will not be honest in their reporting- or that we can't trust public bureacracy to hold their feet to the fire. What a shame that Fidel can't write a short paragraph like that for us!

in any case, this is only implications. the contracts are not in the private domain, as far as I know. could Carlos Fidel be a senate staffer who is speaking the truth? maybe. then why isn't he making these claims public, and printing the relevant parts of the contracts? this blog is hardly the place to air such important knowledge.. unless you are ok with it and only want to rant against "leftists and ngos"

8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jack right on!! What you said was right. It is "Grindio" who has his clothes off. Manfred, is elected just like "Evo" and the "MAS" party. In fact "Cercado" the city of Cochabamba voted for autonamy, just like the "media luna" (half moon - the eastern lowlands) The "Chapare" (Coca country) did not,( which is in Cochabamba state) as it is Evo country and the people are told, "what to do", and even, "how they should vote"..If they don't "Look out!!" The MAS through its "sydicatos" - will get you!!! You know that "Grindio", if you know so much about us. That is why the "Social Movements" came to seige our city. They were threatened and forced to come on a 4 hour journey to the city. If they didn't. There own lands would be burnt or taken away. The city reacted seeing itself burnt, harrased and destroyed. Even to this day the central plaza and the other plaza where all the MAS people slept and camped all day looks torn up and a mess. The Gov. place looks like burnt hole. Who made a mess of our city. It wasn't the "civicos", as much as you want blame them. Yes... both sides reacted above, what they should have. Both sides are to blame for deaths. Out come, (a month or so later) now, 3 dead, a city that is hurting and racial tension abounds. The city people can hardly stand the site of an "Indio" or "Cocalero", and the other way around a cocalero would likely beat up a "white" person, if they had the chance. So, this what MAS and Evo have given to us?? Yes, Manfred pissed MAS off. He spoke about the wrong subject and his timing was off, but he had every constitutional, legal right to do so. Our electral office has said this.
Grindio, I guess you have used two words to come up with your name, but again, you - that knows us so well, you know that Gringos, Indios, Venezuelans, Cubans, etc. are NOT liked by us, especially if they come to destroy our "house". Even you grindio would defend what is yours, if an outsider came and burnt your place, etc. Am I right or wrong? Manfred did not have anything to do with the "civicos" neither the USA. It was the city reclaiming itself, especially the young, which is.... and still is. Sure, blame Manfred, but then, Where does Evo play a part by bringing in by force, the Social Movements to and onto Cochabamba??? Well Jack what you wrote is true on your comments and as a "native" Llatamasi, I am disgusted with the comments (maybe a hidden rat is in his closet) of "GRINDIO's". Every one has right to speak his mind,
I guess.
Evo and the MAS could make a great mandate for Bolivia. This is what we all hoped from them. We expect EVO to be our President, not of a certain segmant. Unfortunately we are now a devided nation, which is NOT good. Blame the old system and people, but they could have been manged, if handled right. Yes we ALL mistrust the "white" corrupt Governments of the past and we DON'T want them, back, but Evo, now seems to be falling into the same trap. Talk to people and read. On Bolivia.com, you will see the latest poll on Evo. 42.41% of the population asked, said, "Evo has done a "pesima" -awful- job as a President a year later" and 22.79% said "he has done a "mala" -bad- job". Add the two together and it comes out about 64%. The ones who think he did an excelent job stands around 20% and "buena"- good - job is 7.1/2%. I am not sure how scientific this pole is, probably not, but, you can see the tide is now turning. If "Evo" was asked to resign, as he wanted Manfred to do so, I wonder how HE would react????
Jack, keep your clothes on.

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