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The Week That Was – Bolivian Blogs

Does the term “retroactive blogging” actually exist? Upon closer inspection and a little help from Google, the concept of retroactive blogging has been around awhile. One of the more interesting blogs about Bolivia retells events that took place then years ago. Mary’s Bolivia takes place in the heart of the Tropics of Cochabamba, during a time when her partner, Robert, worked for a UN development project. With dogs in tow, they spent time between Cochabamba and the Chapare region, which is an area of focus of coca eradication.

Stories from that time could have taken place yesterday, as little has changed during the ten years that have passed. Among the interesting anecdotes is running across wild animals for sale.

Here everyone comes bringing wild animals to see if we will buy them – monkeys, tortoises, the other day they even wanted to sell us a baby deer for US$50 ….. Apparently the Swedish missionaries who ran the dairy before used to buy animals and they sent them to Sweden or something, I don´t know. Some missionaries! Anyway, we have made a point of refusing to buy any animals pointing out to the people that the animals should be left where they were and that they are not a piece of merchandise. One of our first experiences was on a Saturday morning when a man arrived on a bicycle with a bag tied to the crossbar. We were going out for a walk with the dogs at the time and he stopped us saying that he had something that might interest us. That was when we found out about the trading activities of the Swedes. When he opened up the bag, out came a a baby ant-eater. Beautiful. Brown with a long pointed snout and paws with long curved nails. It was sleepy and just lay curled up in your arms sleeping away.

Mary also witnessed firsthand some of the run-ins with the security forces in the area.

For the past few weeks there have been more incidents at the security blocks on the road and more military movements everywhere. Last week the UMOPAR started doing checks on the road to see who didn't have their ID card on them. Anyone who didn't was detained immediately, and if they happened to be peasant leaders they were badly mistreated. Several people had their faces smashed in when they were beaten with rifle butts. They also broke into people's homes at night forcing the whole family to leave – men, women and children. One pregnant women was knocked over on her stomach and miscarried afterwards. Edgar tried to be of help while maintaining a low profile, by distributing medicine from our First Aid kit and giving people some money so they could see a doctor.

These are only two of the stories that continue to appear on her blog. Even though the events were hidden in her journal for over a decade, they make for fascinating reading. One wonders what other stories and experiences are trapped in a long lost diary waiting to be released.

On a current note, congratulations are in order for longtime blogger Miguel Buitrago of MABB, who was recently named as a finalist of the 2005 Weblog Awards. He was nominated in the category of Best Latino, Caribbean or South American blog. Finally, the ever-creative team of M.A.R. (Mundo Al Revés) recently launched a Bolivian Presidential Elections blog/website which in addition to being beautifully designed, will continue to add content over the final 11 days until election day on December 18.

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