The Week That Was – Bolivian Blogs

Recent news of the nationalization of the hydrocarbons in Bolivia has pushed an ongoing crisis off of the front page. No satisfactory solution has been reached in the financial troubles for the airline Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano (LAB), as there are some who are pushing the government to nationalize the former state airline. During this crisis, many have been affected. Customers have less flight options because the number of routes and planes in operation have been significantly scaled back. However, the numerous employees, many of whom have not received back pay, nor received promised contributions to their retirement funds, and the threat of being left unemployed, also have felt the burden of this crisis.

Two blogs from the perspective of employees have been launched from Bolivia. Pablo Alvestegui, a LAB employee, writes about the personal effect that this crisis has had on his life in his blog calle Pab.Log (ES). His latest entry is an open letter to the “Grand Family of LAB”, where he recalls his lengthy illness in which his co-workers pulled together and helped defray the cost of his medical expenses.

“I owe my life to Lloyd, but not only to Lloyd as an institution, but to each one of you, cherished colleagues that never abandoned me. For some reason, the insurance could not cover “all” of the expenses and my parents were desperate because the treatments and medicines started to affect their meager budgets, meanwhile, I only worked two years at the company, I didn’t have not even a seniority to contribute towards my own recuperation.

My new family did not leave me disappointed. My brothers and sisters from Air Traffic Control started to spread the word and organized collections, which was enough to cover a large part of the balance that the insurance didn’t cover. I don’t doubt (although I don’t know because I was hospitalized), that they passed lists around the office and each employee authorized for a certain amount to be subratcted from the salary, which I had seen previously by other colleagues with the same love and fraternity.”

The warmth that Alvestegui held for the company and especially for its employees has been in a steady decline, and as the crisis looms, different employees are taking different sides.

“We’re in a moment of total confusion. Those who you once saw as friends and colleagues, now don’t even say hello (you would be lucky that they don’t insult you), those that you once shared unforgettable moments, like only those from Lloyd can share, unforgettable anecdotes, familiarity, collegiality, intimacy, now appear to have forgotten that LAB is a family.”

Another blog simply called “Give your opinion about Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano” and it tag line, “Every viewpoint is valid, no one is excluded. Say what you think, don’t be silent!” was launched for any and all input from the workers from LAB. Many similar open letters, internal e-mails and memos are posted on the site. However, there is also opportunities for workers who may hold differing viewpoints as referenced by Alvestegui to take participate in a discussion. In the comments sections of the reprinted letter (ES) that he wrote in his blog, an exchange with a LAB employee named Daphne Leytón demonstrated that this real differences can cause a rift between employees.

“With great sadness, I read your long letter. I also saw and heard you on television speaking out against us. We, those who you call “trusted companions” and your “grand family” are on the other side. We haven’t taken this side because we are stupid or immature, and a letter like yours certainly won’t make us change our mind.”

This website also republishes official letters sent to the current managers of the airline and letters denouncing instances of verbal abuse by employees.

See previous Global Voices Online coverage of the economic crisis of LAB. Special thanks to Blogs Bolivia for the tip of these two new blogs.

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