All Notebook Entries

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  • Desplante agresivo de los EEUU en reunión de la OEA: Chávez y la crisis boliviana

    Cerca del final de una sesión de dos días en la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) en Fort Lauderdale, Florida, el embajador de los EEUU en el organismo, Roger Noriega, hizo una rabieta.

    Y es que a final de cuentas Washington acababa de recibir una reprimenda contundente de los países en la mesa de negociación contra su propuesta de crear mecanismos para que haya una mediación extranjera en los asuntos de otros países (léase Venezuela), y el presidente boliviano Carlos Mesa acababa de presentar su renuncia en la víspera de un movimiento popular masivo para nacionalizar la industria del gas boliviana.

    Noriega, poco acostumbrado a perder con dignidad, simplemente perdió la cabeza y recriminó fuertemente que el presidente venezolano Hugo Chávez era el culpable de la crisis en Bolivia.

    Noriega tiene razón pero no en el sentido en que lo piensa...

  • A Communiqué from the Coordinator for the Defense of the Gas

    The Coordinating Committee for the Defense of Water and Gas sends a communiqué from Cochabamba to the people of Bolivia and the international community.
  • In this Relentless Bolivian Revolution, Media Matters

    The Bolivian people did it.  With one death – a terrible cost, but among the best lives-to-change ratios of any mass uprising – the powerful Bolivian movements for social justice removed two more would-be presidents, thwarted plots to begin brutal repression and perhaps even U.S. military intervention, and set the stage for their demands to be addressed at last.

    Such success doesn't come from luck or two weeks' work.  Epitomized by the ERBOL radio network, the Bolivian social movements have constructed a media that reflects the people's needs.

  • Sovereign Radio of the Chaparé

    During the 2004 July-August School of Authentic Journalism in Bolivia, the lucky scholars and professors got to meet as a colleague Egberto Winston Chipana Limachi, the director of Radio Soberania (“Radio Sovereignty”) in the town of Chipriri of the Chapare, the heart of the current coca growers movement.  The station reaches 96 percent of the public in the Tropic of Cochabamba, Authentic Journalism scholar Romina Trincheri wrote at the time: "Walking the small earthen paths that connect the homes of the traditional coca growers, we find that the radio is listened to, sometimes in Spanish, and for a good part of the day in Quechua."  Quechua is the indiginous language and name of the second-largest ethnicity in Bolivia.

    Wearing an "erbol" T-shirt (the back read, in Spanish "if you listen to ERBOL you listen to Bolivia") Egberto Chipana talked to us about his radio station.

  • Comunicado de la Coordinadora de Defensa del Gas

    La Coordinadora de Defensa del Gas y los Hidrocarburos envia un comunic ado al pueblo de Bolivia y a la Comunidad internacional.
  • Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé: Linked to Goni?

    Born in 1956, Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé has a long résumé in the field of public administration. Having studied law in Bolivia’s San Símon University, as well as public administration at Harvard, he has worked as sub-comptroller of Public Services, regional coordinator of the United Nations Latin American Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (ILANUD in its Spanish initials), advisor for the Bolivian state department, among other posts. According to some sources, Rodríguez Veltzé has connections with the Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada clan, who he served for many yeas as undersecretary to the country’s financial oversight administration. A Member of the Supreme Court since 1999, Rodríguez Veltzé was designated president of the Supreme Court on March 17 2004, in the midst of an institutional crisis.
  • Drug War Violence in Mexico

    Violence has erupted in Mexico over that past few days as turf wars continue and druglords assert their authority. In Nuevo Laredo, a new chief of police was sworn in. Nine hours later he lay dead, riddled with bullet holes. This just hours after the new chief announced that border violence is exaggerated (in Spanish).

    There are those that question the Mexican government’s ability to control the outbreak.

    People I know in the area now verify the danger, but to this point all victims are associated with the drug trade in one way or another. Either they are involved in moving drugs or trying to stop them.

    Thanks to Molly Molloy for the links.

  • Far from Over: Bolivia on the Brink of Civil War--or Revolution?

    (Copy of a story I just published on the Web site of the Resource Center of the Americas thanks to, and based on, the valiant reporting of my compañer@s: Luis Gómez, Jean Friedsky and Alex Contreras. It's a rundown of what's happened so far... the swarm continues.)

    Bolivia’s Senate president Hormando Vaca Díez sealed an uncertain, perhaps violent fate for the country by promulgating a widely unpopular hydrocarbons (oil and natural gas) law on May 18. In passing the measure, with the support of Bolivia’s discredited traditional political parties, he pleaded, “Now, all I ask is for unity in the country.”

    Read the rest of the story

  • Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé : Gonivinculado ?

    Nacido en 1956, Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé tiene un amplio currículum en la casta de la administración publica. Abogado (UMSS) y masterado en Administración Publica (Harvard), ejerció como subcontrolador de Servicios Públicos, Coordinador regional del Instituto Latinoamericano de las Naciones Unidas para la Prevención del Delito y el Tratamiento del Delincuente (ILANUD) y asesor de la Cancillería, entre otros. Según ciertas fuentes Rodríguez Veltzé estaría vinculado al clan de Gonzalo Sánchez de lo Lozada, a quienes sirvió durante muchos años como subsecretario de la Contraloría General de la Republica. Miembro de la Suprema Corte desde 1999, Rodríguez Veltzé fue designado como presidente de la Suprema Corte el 17 de marzo de 2004, a raíz de una crisis institucional.
  • In Bolivia, a Decision to Make

    Bolivia has a new President. This news comes at the end of a day in which the nation seemed to be heading towards extreme crisis. Under duress from social movements who declared that under no conditions would they accept the Presidency of Senate President Hormando Vaca Diez (first in line after Mesa), Congress had been unable to convene today, dismissed itself at 6pm and declared an cuarto intermedio (break) of indeterminate length. The people of Bolivia were enflamed by their government's continuing inefficacy and it was at approximately 9pm, as movement leaders were coming across the airwaves to talk about the mass mobilizations of tomorrow, that Vaca Diez finally gave in and announced that he would agree to resign. At 10:50pm, Congress convened in Sucre, the city to which the politicians had fled to escape the pressure of La Paz.  Within minutes, Parliament approved Carlos Mesa's resignation and Vaca Diez and the number two in line, Mario Cossio, both renounced their position as the new executive cheif.  At 11:47pm, Eduardo Rodriguez, President of the Supreme Court, was sworn in as the new President of Bolivia.  
  • Bolivia Has a New President

    Kind readers, the battle of many armies and one death has reached its end. In these moments, several deputies are in the headquarters of the Supreme Court to invite the “new constitutional president,” as Hormando Vaca Diez called him, to assume command of the executive.

    The new president is Dr. Eduardo Rodríguez, head of the court, a man with grey hair and glasses, connected to the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR)… But some social movements, like those in El Alto, haven’t let themselves be demobilized so easily. As long as “the issue of hydrocarbon nationalization” has not been touched upon, as Edgar Patana of the Bolivian Workers’ Federation said, the demonstrations and blockades will continue.

  • Bolivia tiene nuevo presidente

    Queridos lectores, la batalla llena de frentes y con un muerto tuvo ya su final. En estos minutos varios diputados se encuentran en la sede de la Corte Suprema de Justicia para invitar al "nuevo presidente constitucional", como lo llamó el propio Hormando Vaca Diez, a asumir el mando del Poder Ejecutivo.

    Se trata del Dr. Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzñe, titular de la corte y un hombre de cabello entrecano, de anteojos y relacionado con el Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario... de todos modos, algunos movimientos sociales, como los de El Alto, no se han dejado desmovilizar tan fácilmente: mientras no se toque el "tema de la nacionalización de los hidrocarburos", como dijo Edgar Patana de la Central Obrera Boliviana, siguen las manifestaciones y los bloqueos.

  • Hormando Vaca Diez Says Will Not Be President of Bolivia; Congress About to Meet

    We haven’t stopped in Bolivia, and it’s now past 9:00 at night. A half hour ago Senator Vaca Diez left the Sucre Battalion military installation, where he had taken refuge since suspending the session of Congress scheduled for today. He came it the center of the Bolivian capital to give a press conference, at which he renounced his right to presidential succession, but also blamed Carlos Mesa and Evo Morales for everything that had happened to him and asked them for certain guarantees in order to begin the session.
  • Hormando Vaca Diez renuncia, el Congreso a punto de sesionar

    En Bolivia no paramos, y ya son más de las 9 de la noche. Hace media hora el senador Hormando Vaca Diez dejó el Batallón Sucre, donde se refugiaba desde que suspendió la sesión de Congreso Nacional prevista para hoy: llegó hasta el centro de la capital boliviana para dar una conferencia en la que renunció a su derecho a la sucesión presidencial, pero también para acusar a Carlos Mesa y a Evo Morales de todo lo que pasa y pedirles garantías para instalar dicha sesión.

    Evo le respondió casi de inmediato. Y le pidió que renuncie sin más a su derecho a suceder a Mesa en la Presidencia y que instale el Congreso... seguimos dando noticias desde acá.

  • Today's Session of Bolivian Congress Suspended by Vaca Diez

    We said so a few hours ago: that the Congressional session in Sucre to consider President Carlos Mesa’s resignation was not going to happen. A few minutes ago, Senator Hormando Vaca Diez, president of the Congress, suspended all legislative work, without any date or time given to resume it, faced with the situation in the Bolivian capital.
  • Vaca Diez suspende la sesión de hoy

    Lo dijimos hace horas: no iba a realizarse la sesión de Congreso Nacional en Sucre para considerar la renuncia del todavía Presidente Carlos Mesa. Hace unos minutos el senador Hormando Vaca Diez, presidente del Congreso ha suspendido sin fecha ni hora todo trabajo legislativo ante la situación en la capital de Bolivia.
  • Sources: Vaca Diez Behind Death of Bolivian Miner

    After consulting with various sources, we can report, kind readers: The President of the National Congress Hormando Vaca Diez is behind the death of the mineworker Juan Coro and the three wounded who are at this moment at Santa Barbara Hospital in Sucre.
  • Vaca Diez está detrás de la muerte del minero

    Luego de consultar varias fuentes, podemos decirles una cosa clara, queridos lectores: el Presidente del Congreso Nacional Hormando Vaca Diez está detrás de la muerte del cooperativista minero Juan Coro y los tres heridos que se encuentran en estos momentos en el Hospital Santa Bárbara de Sucre.
  • Goni Behind Possible Vaca Diez Regime

    Breaking news: First, we have learned that former Bolivian president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada’s son-in-law, political operator Mauricio Balcázar, arrived this morning in Sucre to support Senator Hormando Vaca Diez in his presidential aspirations. (Evo Morales denounced this in a press conference this morning from Sucre, the official Bolivian capital).

    A half hour ago, the national director of conflict resolution from Carlos Mesa’ s government, Gregorio Lanza, confirmed on Radio Erbol that Balcázar traveled to Sucre on the same plane as Vaca Diez. Flying from Santa Cruz (a one-hour trip), Balcázar and Vaca Diez held a cordial conversation, according to the Mesa administration official.

    But there’s more…

  • Goni detrás del posible gobierno de Vaca Diez

    Nuevas noticias: primero se supo que el yerno de Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, el operador político Mauricio Balcázar, ha llegado esta mañana a Sucre para apoyar al senador Hormando Vaca Diez en su intentona de ser presidente (una denuncia ya hecha por Evo Morales en una conferencia matutina desde la capital de Bolivia).

    Hace media hora, el Director Nacional de Prevención de Conflictos del gobierno de Carlos Mesa, Gregorio Lanza, ha confirmado en Radio Erbol que Balcázar fue a Sucre en el mismo avión que Vaca Diez. Volando desde Santa Cruz (una hora, aproximadamente), Balcázar y Vaca Diez mantuvieron una cordial conversación. Siempre de acuerdo al funcionario de Mesa.

    Pero hay más...

  • The Bolivian Earthquake Continues

    At this point in the day, the Bolivian state reminds me of the city where I was born: on September 19, 1985, Mexico City awoke to an enormous jolt. It was 7:19 am. A reporter was on his way to work on the city’s main avenue, and was able to report on the visual effect of the earthquake, which lasted 43 endless seconds. When it all seemed to have passed, the reporter saw an enormous building fall just a few meters away, so fast that all one could hear was a sob from his microphone, then one horrified phrase: “It fell as if it were made of cardboard.” Then he kept crying.

    In the same way, the government in this country seems like a city shaken by an earthquake… and the Bolivian political class seems, to this reporter, frightened and incapable of doing anything to stop this phenomenon that surges from below, from the heart of the earth…

  • Bolivia: ¡Que se vayan todos! Se busca consenso para elecciones anticipadas

    Mientras se va gestionando la Asamblea Popular por el autogobierno en El Alto, las movilizaciones continuan en todo el pais, particularmente en Sucre, el centro de atención de toda Bolivia en estos momentos…  “Ya no hay gobierno en Bolivia”, dice la Agencia Econoticias, nuestros camaradas Gomez y Friedsky dudan que el Congreso pueda sesionar en Sucre…
  • Audio: Entrevista con Alex Contreras desde Sucre

    Alex Contreras se encuentra en este momento en Sucre donde debería reunirse el Parlamento. El periodista boliviano que se encuentra en medio de la manifestación con cientos de miles de personas cuenta como es la situación en Bolivia en este momento, que es el Gobierno popular indígena obrero y profesional de La Paz y quien es el concejal Roberto de la Cruz, para terminar con una ultima pregunta sobre que rol que está cumpliendo la Iglesia en estos días de conflicto.
    la entrevista se encuentra aqui: 608_contreras.mp3
  • Bolivia Airport Strike vs. Vaca Diez Closes La Paz Airport: Sucre & Cochabamba Next

    The Spaniard news agency EFE reports:

    La Paz, (EFE).- The El Alto International Airport, which serves the Bolivian city of La Paz, suspended its flights today as a consequence of a strike by air traffic controllers to demand that Congress call new elections.

    The Vice Minister of Transportation, Mauricio Navarro, informed EFE that as of noon Bolivian time "the airport has ceased functioning for scheduled flights" due to a strike by the workers of the Autonomous Administration of Auxilary Services of Air Navigation of Bolivia (AASANA in its Spanish initials).

    As a condition of lifting the strike, AASANA demands that the leaders of the Senate and House renounce their presidential succesion during today's Congressional session in the southern city of Sucre...

    Those resignations would cede power to the third in line, the Supreme Court President, the only of the three with the power to call for new elections and apparently the only solution the the crisis...

    More info at the jump...

  • El temblor sigue en Bolivia

    A estas horas de la mañana, el Estado boliviano me recuerda mucho a la ciudad en que nací: el 19 de septiembre de 1985, la ciudad de México despertó bajo una enorme sacudida. Eran las 7:19 am. Un reportero hacia su trabajo desde la principal avenida de la urbe, y consiguió reportar el efecto visual del terremoto, que duró 43 eternos segundos. Cuando todo parecía haber pasado, el rerportero vio a caer a unos metros un enorme edificio, tan rápidamente que solamente se escuchó un sollozo desde su micrófono y luego una frase de horror: "Ha caído un edificio como si fuera de cartón", y siguió llornando.

    De la misma manera, el Estado en este país parece una ciudad sacudida por un terremoto... y la clase política boliviana parece ese reportero, asustado e incapaz de hacer nada contra ese fenómeno que viene de abajo, del fondo de la tierra...

  • Radio Erbol: Bolivia Congress Delays Session Until Afternoon

    Radio Erbol, Bolivia’s national public radio (listen to it live) reports from outside the makeshift Congressional halls in Sucre:

    “The Congressional session that was called for 10:30 a.m. will now begin sometime in the afternoon… because there are no ‘guarantees’ yet in place for the safety of the legislators and the party leaders have not yet reached agreement as to how to proceed.”

    As of 10 a.m., Radio Erbol estimated the crowd of protestors outside the meeting hall at Plaza 25 de Mayo to be 7,000 people, with another contingent of “about 5,000” arriving at that moment from one nearby street, as other contingents including “city hall workers and university workers” were marching toward the plaza from other parts of the city.

    The national radio network has various reporters in the field and is covering this story play by play: Indeed, it is the top story and the only story for 60 minutes per hour.

    More of the network's updates are translated below the fold...

  • Zero Hour in Bolivia: What to Watch for Today

    “Pal cementerio se va
    La vaca de mala leche
    Pal cementerio se va
    Ni dios le va a perdonar”

    -    Manu Chao

    It is 4:30 in the morning somewhere in a country called América, the coffee percolates on a lucky stove where there is still gas: Authentic Journalism cannot sleep. A day of reckoning is upon us.

    Today, the ghosts of Bolivia’s 180 years of simulated democracy will haunt the empty halls of the Bolivian Congress in La Paz at 10:30 a.m. as the Senators and Deputies of the disgraced official parties convene 740 kilometers away, in Sucre, to sign a death warrant on a nation’s hopes for authentic democracy.

    By the dawn’s early light thousands of farmers, miners, students, teachers, manual laborers, maids, gardeners, elders and children, chewing coca leaf and carrying ancient memories and dreams of self-determination, are moving toward Sucre en masse...

  • Thursday Brings a New Assault on Power in Bolivia

    The day was a bit rough in La Paz, but not so much as in the last few weeks: the tension has moved to other places, mainly Sucre, the nominal capital of Bolivia where the National Congress will supposedly meet to decide on whether Carlos Mesa will leave the presidency.

    In El Alto, the organizations there decided this afternoon to create a Popular Assembly, to begin, now, the first moves towards self-government. Meanwhile, thousands of miners and many Aymara peasant farmers are on their way to Sucre, which in these hours is already surrounded by that area’s rural poor.

  • Seeking Decent Restaurants in Bolivia

    In 1987 or 1988 I was in Cochabamba, Bolivia to improve my Spanish skills. One morning I arrived at the Maryknoll-sponsored language institute and discovered a great deal of consternation. A problem had arisen. A student from the United States had been denied entrance to a local restaurant.

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