The Week That Was – Bolivian Blogs

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The unique festivities surrounding the inauguration of Bolivia’s new President attracted the interest of many bloggers. Starting on Saturday, January 21, a ritual at the archaeological site of Tiwanaku attracted thousands of Bolivians, curious foreigners and the interest of the international press. Patricia aka La arquitecta traveled to the ruins located 70 km from the capital city of La Paz. Her photos reflect the multitude of indigenous communities and different countries represented that day on the Atliplano. Michael Agresta, a student from the University of Texas recently traveled to Bolivia to “witness the start of Evo Morales’ presidency.” At Tiwanaku, he met up with many Argentines who felt attracted to this emerging South American identity. However, he also overheard an exchange in which a man was adamant that “there were too many k´aras (whites, outsiders)” and also said “that this ceremony was for the indios.” The colorful ceremony almost appeared as if Morales was being crowned the new Inca writes Miguel Esquirol in El Forastero.

Bloggers faraway were able to follow the events from their computers. Gustavo, who writes at Almada de Noche , discovered a Bolivian internet news site, which transmitted the oath of office live on his laptop screen in France. The international media allowed Gabriel, also in France, to follow the events throughout the inaugural weekend. He writes in his blog Gabriel al Sur de Francia that he was beginning to become annoyed with the constant overuse of the term “indigenous” in reference to the new President. The French media put a damper on what should have been a joyous occasion, but instead it wanted to focus on the poverty and past social unrest.

On the first day of office, President Morales appointed the cabinet that would accompany him throughout these next five years. Many selections were a surprise because of the seemingly lack of experience. Jaime Rubin de Celis observed that people with few technical skills were appointed and that it appeared odd that a journalist will now be in charge of the Hydrocarbons and a homemaker will now be running the Ministry of Justice. He also wonders whether the new Foreign Minister's comments might constitue as reverse discrimination. David Choquehuanca, an Aymara Indian, said that “it's important that new diplomats (ambassadors and consuls) know Bolivia and should be able to speak quechua, aymara or guaraní”. Those are three of the four official languages of Bolivia.

Many openly celebrated this new era in Bolivian history, such as Oswaldo Condemaita, the writer of the Pensamiento Indio blog, who said,

President Evo, as many repeated over the course of these last few days, was a feeling of unity, as well as a feeling of hope; not only because Evo Morales represents the majority of the population in the Americas, but as it was observed, that in Bolivia, that the people, incorrectly reffered to as Pre-hispanic, used every possible method to obtain political and economic power, in spite of the blockades and interventions from the “cholaje” and from some transnational companies.

Finally this week marks the beginning of the festival of Alasitas, which lasts two weeks. This festival dates back to pre-colonial times in which a small idol named Ekeko is revered and is thought to possess the ability to grant material wealth and good fortune. Stands sell minatures of cars, diplomas, houses, bundles of money and any other item that a Bolivian might wish for during the new year. Carloncho el Quintacho believes preserving Bolivian traditions go hand-in-hand with the constructon of a new Bolivia. He links to a song called “Alasita” by Manuel Monroy Chazarreta.

Jaime Humérez Seleme and his new blog Boliviscopio tells about President Morales’ participation in the opening of the festival. It is well-known that the new head of state is a confirmed bachelor at 46 years old. When he was presented with a minature of a marriage certificate in the spirit of the festival of Alasitas, many were left wondering whether the presenter went too far into the personal life of Morales. However, Humérez Seleme writes that it was all in good fun when the name of Morales’ supposed new wife was: Olivia Libre y Soberana. (A play on the campaign slogan of Bolivia Libre y Soberana = Bolivia, Free and Sovereign).

Finally, Rolando brings together the lives of Carlos Palenque, Franz Tamayo, Jorge Sanjines and Mamani Mamani in a thoughtful essay on his blog Rocko Weblog about individuals that fought for equality through different avenues and helped plant the seeds for the eventual election of Morales.


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