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The Week That Was – Bolivian Blogs

Few knew quite what to expect during President Evo Morales’ first week in office. After the worldwide attention of the inauguration had settled, proposed policy decisions would draw the attention and critique from some of the bloggers. Undoubtedly many of the new policies are very different from previous administrations and their results are still unknown.

The new administration has indicated that it no longer wants to focus on the coca leaf farmer, which often supplies the raw material for the manufacture of cocaine, as the center of drug control policy. The new policy wants to move away from “zero coca” and towards “zero narcotrafficking”. However, some believe that it is difficult to separate the two, as there will still be a lot of coca that is destined for the manufacture of the illicit drug, even if the coca farmer is not directly involved.

Jaime Rubin de Celis wrote a two-part blog entry at JCR’s Place, in which he spells out four important points to consider within the new proposed policy. A new study will determine how much coca is needed for the legal, daily use. However, until then, Rubin de Celis says that the current policy should still be in effect. and unfortunately control cannot take place without force. The author also recognizes that external demand from abroad plays a huge part in this controversial topic, but it shouldn’t be an either/or type of stance by focusing either on supply or demand.

Boliviscopio’s author Jaime Humérez Seleme questions the designation of former coca farmer, Felipe Cáceres as Vice-minister of Social Defense, which operates as Drug Czar. This former coca leader will now have the task of making sure that each family does not grow more than 1 cato (a measurement equal to 1600 m2) of coca, which was the amount agreed upon with the previous administration. Humérez Seleme states that the coca farmers have moved away from being “controlled” to the ones who now are the ones “controlling.” He asks, “Isn’t this like entrusting the mice to guard the cheese?”

The hydrocarbons issue may be even more controversial because of Morales’ campaign promises of nationalization and just what that might entail. New hydrocarbons Minister, Andres Solíz Rada, declared a victory over the Spanish multinational company, REPSOL, by exposing “massive accounting fraud” when it registered Bolivia’s hydrocarbons reserves as its own in the New York Stock Exchange. However, Jonathan Olguin writes in the Journal of Bolivian Business and Politics that the sudden drop of REPSOL stock had nothing to do with Solíz Rada’s claim of victory. On the contrary, Olguin states that Bolivia loses out on additional investment due to the Spanish company’s lowered reserve estimates.

Some waves were made in parts of the country, namely in the department of Santa Cruz and Tarija, where the new Prefects have wanted to move ahead and help develop many of its oil and natural gas reserves. The new central government, however, reminded these new departmental elected leaders that energy policy is a national concern, and not local . Mauricio from Bolivia Hoy doesn’t blame these local leaders for wanting to move ahead and hopes that the two can work together through mutual dialogue.

Antonio Saravia based out of Dubai, formerly of the blog The Economist en Su Laberinto, returns after a lengthy hiatus to start a new blog called Lecciones de Economía en Evoland. The main focus of this new site will highlight the new economic policies from the Morales administration, which Saravia denominated as EVOnomics. The name is inspired by a similar label applied to former U.S. president Ronald Reagan and his policies denominated “Reaganomics”. Saravia states that Morales’ new policies will resemble nothing like Reagan’s economic vision because the Bolivian state is poised to take a more active role in the national economy and is very different than the more liberal, hands-off economic policies of the 1980s in the U.S.

Natural disasters are also causing difficulties in Bolivia. Miguel Buitrago (MABB) laments the unusually heavy rains that left four departments with heavy flooding. Several nations have pledged humanitarian and logistical support for those areas affected.

A relatively new blog called Palazos a la Piñata by Sebastián Sánchez Villalpando in La Paz, Bolivia presents his blog topics as the Mexican tradition of a hanging piñata, which has caught on in Bolivia. In his instruction on his blog he writes:

Game Rules:
1). I hang a piñata
2.) We all swing until it breaks or until those that defend it break us
3) Outside damage to the piñata is not permitted
4) Going at it with other participants is allowed
5.) The piñata is the central focus of the game
6). With a little bit of luck, we’ll come out of it with only minor injuries, but also with some new ideas

In his first post, he offered up the topic of music piracy in Bolivia, complete with background music. His suggestion: Radiohead’s OK Computer. Sánchez Villalpando presents both sides to the argument such as the fact that Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere yet a cost for an original CD is equal to the price in the U.S. He wonders whether art should only be available to those that can afford the high price. However, he also states that piracy is equal to stealing. Judging from the amount of comments there are plenty of participants anxious to give his/her best shot.

Finally, the blogging community, Blogs de Bolivia recently updated its Bolivian blog listing and many blogs that have not been updated for three months were removed. Nearly 100 blogs were removed due to inactivity.

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