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The Week That Was – Bolivian Blogs

Este artículo también está disponible en español en el sitio Blogs de Bolivia

Another election in Bolivia is only four days away. A dearth of information characterizes this election of 255 Constituents to the assembly that has the task to rewrite the Constitution. On July 2, Bolivians will take to the polls and Briegel Busch finds the fact that many do not even know their candidates or what exactly is at stake very worrisome. As he writes in his blog, Bolivia-Eclipse [ES], this lack of information could have an adverse effect on history because indifferent and uninformed voters may only add to the uncertainty that the country currently faces.

In addition to this election, a Referendum on Autonomy will also take place on July 2. A “Yes” vote is far from a sure thing, as it may have appeared at one time. Earlier in the year, President Evo Morales openly supported and pushed through Congress the convocation of this Referendum. However, over the past few months, this positive support turned to neutrality. Recently, Morales admitted that he will be voting “No”. Others in the MAS party have not formed a consensus. Busch also comments about this inconsistency among the ruling party and the lack of clear and solid reasons why some oppose this quest for departmental autonomies.

Some residents of El Alto ( a ever-growing city, located near the capital, La Paz), including councilmember Roberto de la Cruz, participated in a unique protest in support of a “No” vote in this Referendum. The blog Poco Comun [ES] has a picture of these Alteños in mid-winter.

Sebastian Molina emphatically states that he will support the “Yes” vote. In his blog, Plan B [ES], he thinks that “increased decentralization is necessary, not only of the resources, but also power in the intermediate levels (Prefectures, governorships or however the Constituent Assembly decides upon) between the central government and the municipalities.” Another factor that has solidified his vote is that the final decision on what type of autonomy Bolivia would have, should the “Yes” vote win, would take place within the boundaries of the Constituent Assembly and the new Constitution, which will then be voted upon by the public in another referendum.

During this election season, many proposals are being bandied about, including one controversial proposal to eliminate Roman Catholicism as the official state religion. Sebastián Sánchez Villalpando, who blogs at Palazos a la Piñata [ES], was pleasantly surprised that such a debate could take place in a country like Bolivia, as he sees incongruence that a democratic country could even have an official state religion in the first place. However, Morales, who earlier stated, in an interview with CNN Español, via a link from the blog Morir antes que esclavos vivir [ES] that traditional religious festivals should be abolished because “they are European colonial symbols and unnecessary economic expenses,” later recanted and publicly stated that he was, in fact, Catholic himself.

Finally, the coldest night of the year has always been celebrated on the day known as “San Juan,” held on June 23. Bolivians don’t stay inside on this coldest night, but take to the frigid night air with their traditional bonfires. Each year, the local governments plead to its residents to resist the urge to partake in this tradition citing the ecological and environment damage that these bonfires cause. Nevertheless, many do not heed this call and the day after is characterized by a heavy haze on the major cities, which causes problems with those with allergies, such as Ceckis who wriges at Lost in Confussion [ES]. She doesn’t see why people have to take part in something just because it is tradition and those who defend it by saying that other countries like the United States contaminate the air even more, which is no justification. She ends her post because she must look for medicine to alleviate some of the symptoms caused by the heavily-contaminated air.

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