The date was June 2002, the last time Bolivia held Presidential elections, and the Bolivian blogosphere had yet to sprout. One of the true trailblazers of this internet community, Barcelona-based Miguel Esquirol, was one of the few that was even blogging at the time. In his blog El Forastero, he describes the political landscape back in his native Bolivia:
“The Bolivian elections stomp along like an elephant banging into and leaving its prints on anything in its way. There’s not much one can do against this stampede..”
Nearly three and a half years later, and the Bolivian blogosphere has significantly grown manifold. Election coverage will continue to dominate the content on many of the blogs in this community. Political leanings can be somewhat easy to decipher by frequent readers. However, few have explicitly and publicly indicated who they will vote for.
La Paz blogger, who writes under the name Raízdefuego, states that he will vote for Evo Morales (MAS) despite some reservations. In his blog Somos Bolivia, the author would like to see whether Morales would be up for the task of governing such a complex country and having Morales in office may lessen the chance of continued political instability, which ends up in the form of street protests.
Jonathan Olguin, who recently started his new blog, the Journal of Bolivian Business and Politics, admits that he “half-heartedly support(s) the PODEMOS candidacy,” which corresponds to the candidate Jorge “Tuto” Quiroga. However, he criticizes Quiroga for mismanaging the fragile gas export issue and almost destroying important social programs during his short time in office, after the death of Hugo Banzer.
It’s hard to say whether other bloggers will come out in support for one of the eight Presidential candidates. Most likely, if there is public support, it will be hand-in-hand with similar reservations and criticisms. One such criticism came from Jaime C. Rubin de Celis, who questioned Evo Morales’ claim that he has the support of a major business such as the airline Aerosur, which gave the candidate a gift of free air travel. In his blog JCR’s Place, he wonders if the airline offered similar benefits to the other candidates and the ethical implications of such an offer.
As the number of blogs continues to grow, Bolivian blogger get-togethers are taking place all over the planet. Three bloggers recently met in France where all three currently reside. Gustavo Siles aka Almada de Noche writes about the recent meeting with two other Bolivian bloggers based in France. There he met with Ada Esquirol Ríos aka Agüita Fresca and Gabriel, who writes in his blog Gabriel al Sur de Francia.
Another gathering is currently in the works for La Paz. Rolando Lopez, author of Rocko Weblog and Carlos Hugo Quntinalla, author of Del Quintacho su Rincón are eagerly anticipating the meeting denominated “Paceñas, Fricachos & Blogs,” which is scheduled for the last weekend in November. Paceña is a commonly-found beer in the capital city and Fricasé, a local gastronomic specialty, is a type of pork stew.
Finally from Spain, Javier, who writes in Una revisión de todo un poco, wonders whether the Bolivian press exaggerates the plight of many Bolivian immigrants in that country. In addition, Esquirol compares the different types of fast food that can be found in Bolivia, Spain and around the world.