Fresh off some historic accomplishments such as the approval of two important laws in Congress, the convocation of the Constituent Assembly and another to finalize the Referendum for Autonomy, Bolivia again witnessed some additional meaningful events. Miguel Buitrago summarizes much of the week’s occurrences in a recent post in his blog, MABB.
Visits from fellow South American presidents were important to explore and discuss bilateral issues. Uruguayan president Tabare Vazquez arrived in La Paz to sign an agreement that would provide gas to the Mercosur country. Trade concerns over the export of soy was a topic of conversation between President Evo Morales and his counterpart from Colombia, Alvaro Uribe. The effects of a recent trade agreement with the United States meant bad news for the Bolivian soy industry.
President Morales’ visit to neighboring Chile also became historic, as he was the first Bolivian president to attend the inauguration of a Chilean head of state. This visit occurred in a similar fashion, when outgoing president Ricardo Lago attended Morales’ inauguration nearly two months ago. While in Santiago, Morales attended a rally where thousands of Chileans openly supported Bolivia’s claim to the sea. Even those those in attendance represented such a small percentage of the Chilean population, Bolivian blogger Sergio Asturizaga, who currently lives in Brazil, remains optimistic that these two events could signal a new and revitalized relationship with Chile. Asturizaga blogs at Así como me ves me tienes.
The inauguration of a woman president in Chile, Michelle Bachelet, coincided with International Women’s Day, which was celebrated in Bolivia. The rights and equality for women has a long way to go in the country, as pointed out by a post in Ceckis’ Lost in Confussion blog. Statistics from a United Nations Development Programme report painted several bleak pictures. For example, women earn 45% of what a man typical earns partly because many women receive no pay for tasks in the rural parts of Bolivia. Women also primarily work as domestic laborers, which often pay less. Education disparities are also evident, such as literacy rates and access to school. Domestic violence sadly occurs far too often, which was reported in a study conducted by the Vice-Ministry of Gender Issues. Seven in ten women have reported physical or psychological abuse.
Joaquin Cuevas’ illustration depicts how often these days of commemoration are often only to pat oneself on the back and things change very little in the expectations of women. His blog La Vida del Chico Larva also features an illustration of an unemployed cartoonist, where apparently he no longer works for the newspaper La Razon. In the comments section, he writes “My revolutionary ideas (contracts, benefits and creative independence) didn't coincide with the newspaper's position.”
Finally, Alvaro, in his blog La Casa Verde, wonders how President Morales, in similar attitudes taken by Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, shows little interest in maintaining a family. He writes that it seems that personal ambitions for power take precedence over family life because he had asked the Vice-President and two Presidents of both chambers of Congress to live in the Presidentia residence to work non-stop.