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The Week that Was – Bolivian Blogs

Bolivia celebrated her Independence Day on August 6th complete with the usual fanfare and outward displays of civic pride. Many Bolivians marked this 181st birthday with family and friends, while others were miles away in other parts of the globe far from their loved ones. Isabella Fuente did not hide her melancholy around this date. She currently lives in Spain and maintains the blog Ergoth (ES).

Willy Andres Ortega, a Cruceño (from Santa Cruz) remains very hopeful and this day stands out to him as a new beginning, “Today, history begins. Today, we would like to start anew. Looking out at new horizons, we want to show a different Bolivia, one that has not been seen, one that knows no boundaries, and one that is not afraid of change for a brighter future.” The national holiday was different this year because it coincided with the launch of the Constitutent Assembly. Rolando Lopez of Rocko Weblog (ES) looks forward to this process to rewrite the country’s Constitution because it will “create a new, inclusive nation of those that have been relegated for thousands of years and to give decision-making power to those people during a time of socio-political phenomenon that has never been seen before.”

The assembly will begin on August 15th because the hall where the congress will take place is still under construction. The 255 delegates elected on July 2 have been debating rules of order and also elected the presiding officers. The President of this Assembly is Silvia Lazarte, from the Movimiento Al Socialismo (MAS). Jaime Humérez Seleme of Boliviscopio (ES) identifies some bad, early signals. Lazarte is a close confidant of President Evo Morales and goes back to the early 1980s during their days of syndicalism in the Tropics of Cochabamba (Chapare). There have been some concerns that the Assembly will simply be an extension of the MAS government, especially because the President of the Assembly is so close to Morales. There has also been speculation that some want to give the Assembly extraordinary powers, which could mean the closing of the current legislature.

Sergio Asturizaga, a Paceño (La Paz resident) living in Brazil, also has high hopes for this new process, but hopes that some of Morales’ mistakes do not play into the final Constitution. He is troubled about some of Morales’ statements, which reflect resentment and confrontation between the different groups in the country. He hopes that a new, inclusive country is created, as he writes in his blog, Así Como me Ves Me Tienes (ES):

I hope that it does not become a country with only one ethnicity or one nation, but one of multiple nations and cultures. As we saw in the parade in Sucre with the representation of many cultures, we must see that Bolivia is not only Occident and Orient. It is much more than that, it is a country, a grand country that demands that it finally becomes the grand country that it is..”

The location of this historic gathering takes place in Bolivia’s other capital, Sucre. Far from the seat of government of La Paz and the economic hub of Santa Cruz, this city rarely gets much attention throughout the year. It is, however, the site of the Supreme Court and it is a frequented destination of tourists because of the attraction of dinosaur tracks. Citizen K (ES) writes about the opening of a sort of Jurassic Park, which is being built with the help of the Inter-American Development Bank and local governments. The park will be ready on August 25 and has already drawn rave reviews from visiting journalists.

Bolivia’s seat of government and other capital city, La Paz, is also hoping to increase tourism through the construction of an urban train, a type of elevator up from the center of La Paz, which sits in the middle of a sort of crater. Sebastián Sánchez of Palazos a la Piñata (ES) thinks that this construction is a bad idea citing the loss of many public transportation jobs and the elevated cost, which is likely to go over budget.

On the streets of La Paz, the blogger named Luna, who writes at Lunovampella (ES), talks about a newspaper written and sold by street children. The cost is a mere Bs. 3 ($ 0.40) and she says the money goes directly to the kids keeping them away from drug addiction and alcoholism.

Finally, Mario Duran from El Alto and the blog Palabras Libres (ES), found himself as an involuntary victim of police brutality. During the recent holiday, a backed-up traffic jam caused tensions to rise between a local transit cop and a taxi driver. When the driver emerged from his car to protest the treatment of his vehicle, it only caused the policeman to increase the ill treatment of the vehicle and of the driver. Duran and his fellow passengers began to complain about this rough treatment, when the inside of the taxi was sprayed with tear gas. He soon went straight to the Public Ombudsman and local transit authority to register an official complaint.

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