An isolated mining town called Huanuni, located in the Department of Oruro, was the center of attention in Bolivia after violent clashes between groups of miners. In question were the rights to exploit the mine, as both the state-employed miners (asalariados) and independent contractors (cooperativistas) both laid claim to the minerals. At the end of the day, approximately 16-21 were left dead and close to 60 injured. Hugo Mirando aka Angel Caido, who hails from the city of Oruro, the capital of that department, collects various links, photos, videos from various media sources. However, he is saddened by “the poor killing the poor.”
In midst of all of the details, one Bolivian blogger looked at the human face of the casualities. “Everyone is talking about this tragedy, looking for someone to blame or those responsible. It makes me very sad because they aren’t numbers! They are people, children that have been left without a mother, brother or a father,” writes Joup, who blogs at Este Arcoiris se Llama Joup (ES).
However, there was a history befote the turn of events. Mario Ronald Duran Chuquimia delves into some of the antecedents that led to the two groups squaring off. As he writes in his blog Palabras Libres (ES) and criticizes corporatism:
El contexto del conflicto de Huanuni, según las denuncias de la histórica Federación Sindical de Trabajadores Mineros de Bolivia (FSTMB), se ha originado por cierto favoritismo gubernamental hacia el sector de los cooperativistas, sector que mediante un poder obtenido de la trasnacional Allied Deals asumía que la administración de la mina de Huanuni les correspondía, pese a que la ley impide la privatización de minas estatales. En síntesis, el problema medular de la gestión de Evo Morales es que la dirigencia de los movimientos sociales hechas cabeza de ministerio, otorga prerrogativas a la satisfacción de las demandas de su sector antes que dar soluciones a los problemas del conjunto de la sociedad..
The context of the conflict of Huanuni, according to the complaints by Bolivian Miners Federation Union (FSTMB) originated due to governmental favoritism towards the cooperatives, which is a sector that gained power from the multinational company Allied Deals, which administered the Huanuni Mine, even though the prohibition of privatization of state mines. In summary, the chief problem in Evo Morales’ administration is that the social movement leaders were made heads of the Ministry, making decisions to the satisfaction of their own sectors, instead of providing solutions to the problems of society as a whole.
Naturally, many are looking carefully at the actions of the government, and whether they could have had avoided this unfortunate series of events. Many squarely place blame on the shoulders of the government and Briegel Busch agrees, “I agree with the criticism, as I perceive that the government is too busy with the Constituent Assembly and does not spend enough time on the day-to-day issues,” as he writes in Bolivia Eclipse (ES). However, Sergio Asturizaga does not agree, “The media says that these were Evo’s deaths. They are not Evo’s deaths, they are the deaths of the Bolivians…,” he writes from his blog Así como me ves me tienes (ES) from his home in Brazil.
Carlos Gustavo Machicado Salas thinks that may be the beginning of something bigger, as there have been several discontent groups, such as the Central Obrero Boliviano (the worker’s union) and public transport that have expressed their displeasure. He writes in Guccio’s World, “The government does not know what to do, and has lost the control of this and other situations. Anyway, if October 2003 was called Black October, because of the people who died in El Alto, what color are we going to give to this October 2006.”
This week also marked another commemorative date. It has been 24 years since democracy was restored in Bolivia, after years of military dictatorships. Vania Balderrama knows it has been a rough and bumpy ride, but perhaps Bolivians should look at the bigger picture and work at it. Her blog is called Capsula de Tiempo (ES) and is written from Santa Cruz.
Entonces la Democracia…bueh, que si bien no es perfecta, es la mejor forma de Gobierno. Yo la veo como un matrimonio: no es que te casas y ya, vas a ser feliz por el resto de tu vida y hasta que la muerte te separe de tu pareja. Nada que ver. La democracia, al igual que el matrimonio es un proceso, un caminar y adaptarse día a día a los cambios del mundo, es poner todos los interesados de su parte para que la cosa funcione. En fin, la esperanza es lo último que muere. Ojalá y cada uno de nosotros pongamos un granito de arena para que este matrimonio entre el Gobierno y el Pueblo no se vaya al tacho.
So, democracy…well, it’s not perfect, it’s the best form of government. I see it like marriage, it’s not like you get married and you’ll be happy for the rest of your life until death do you part. No way. Democracy, like marriage, is a process, a path and adapting day after day to the changes in the world, to put everything together so that it works. In summary, hope is the last thing that dies. Hopefully each of us contributes a little bit so that this marriage between the government and the people doesn’t go down the drain.
Finally, this week also marked another date and Bolivian institutions disagreed upon its significance. Thirty-nine years ago, Ernesto “Che” Guevara was captured in the tropical village of La Higuera. P. R. Barriga-Dávalos wrote about the date on the group blog, Diseccionando a la Musa Perdida (ES). He talked about the current Bolivian President Evo Morales, who paid homage to Guevara accompanied by Guevara’s daughter and with a group of indigenous Bolivians. However, he also talked about the military that still commemorate the day as a grand event for that institution and many of them considered that their patriotic duty.