This week's Bolivian blog summary was written by a guest collaborator, Miguel Buitrago, a Bolivian currently pursuing his Ph.D in political science in Hamburg, Germany. His Bolivian blog is called MABB.
As the year winds down, and Bolivians prepare to celebrate what is considered one of the most important holydays of the year, the Bolivian blogsphere continues voicing its thoughts, opinions, fears, complaints and cheers. But before I tell you about them, I'd like to thank Eduardo Ávila for kindly inviting me to take this week's pulse to the Bolivian blogsphere. I would also like to take this opportunity to wish every one a very merry Christmas 2006.
Naturally, the socio-political crisis is very present in the minds of many Bolivians. The blogsphere is no exception to this. A careful look at what is being said reflects the polarization of Bolivian society. On the one hand, and as a result of last week's violent confrontations during the council meeting in Santa Cruz. In other cities, there were reports about the abuses against the eastern indigenous population and damage to their organizations. On the other hand, the council meetings themselves were the subject of various posts. Noelia Soruco, from Noelia Pensando en Voz Alta, thought the gathering was just overwhelming; Javier Sandoval, at Javier Libro Abierto, sarcastically qualified it as a great oligarch party; and finally, Undiary illustrated, with many photos, how it went.
The criticism against the government is heavily represented in the blogsphere. There are a number of bloggers who regularly post criticism of the government like Andres Pucci who, in his blog with the same name, laments and speculates about how the Vicepresident seems to want to drive Morales from power. Jaime Humerez, from Boliviscopio, concludes that the government's only reasonable and patriotic conduct would be to agree to the 2/3 demand from the opposition rather than insisting on a straight majority decision in the Constituent Assembly. Boli-Nica reproduces a NYT article reporting on the new worries of the mennonite communities in Santa Cruz. They are worried about the agrarian reform law coming next year and what it will mean for their land.
A new interesting development is the incursion of various organizations in the blogsphere. Here too, we find two antagonist positions represented. The Comite Pro Santa Cruz [ES] presents its case and tries to bring readers their side of the coin. Additionally, the Journalists Association of Santa Cruz [ES] reports on the attacks against journalists and thus to the right to free press and freedom of expression. While Mario Duran Chuquimia, from Noticias El Altoe, reports on Evo Morales’ goal to once and for all destroy the colonial state [ES]. The El Alto Press Agency (APA), brings readers the day to day situation in the satellite city of El Alto. This week it reported about the support El Alto civic organizations received in their effort to expel a foreign company operating the supply of drinking water. The show of support came from Bolivian nationals living in the US and from American citizens [ES] as well. Other stories covered by APA were the town halls last week and their influence on El Alto's civic organization's decisions to act [ES].
The second most talked about topic this week has been, of course, Christmas. There are several blogs which reflect on life and the personal experiences of each author. Freddy Mendizabal [ES] writes about three gifts he is already anticipating for this year; Ricardo Roman [ES], takes a little time to thank all the people he wants to thank this year; the author of Las Mujeres Que Soy [ES], sends a multiple personality Merry Christmas to everyone; and Warmicita [ES] shares a christmas song from her childhood with us, as Erik Saul, at Bitacora de Cuerdas [ES], sends all his readers a warm and simple Felices Fiestas!
Finally, I would like to mention an interesting exercise being conducted online as we speak. The blog I want to highlight here is one trying to conduct one of the first scientific studies of the Bolivian blogsphere. Nebulosa Blogosferica [ES] is a project started by a group of girls from the Social Communications faculty at the Cochabamba University (UMSS). The project tries to explain the bolivian blogsphere by the use each one of the authors gives to his or her own blog. The preliminary results say that around 69% of the blogs handle more than one topic. Of those surveyed, 43% think that blogs are an alternative medium of expression, almost 40% think that they are a tool with lots of potential. Lastly, 51% of those surveyed say they talk about personal issues online, 30% talk about political issues, 15% talk about literature, and 4% talk about music. It seems the blogsphere has become an important medium of self-expression in Bolivia.
The following blogs are some examples of how Bolivians are using the blog-world to talk about personal experiences. The author of this first blog highlights a regional identity pride, that in my opinion, was missing in the blogsphere. In Bolivia it is, and has always been, important to express ones regional identity. There are cambas, collas, cochalas, chapacos, quirquinchos, loquitos, etc. The personal blog of Alvaro Garcia Ramos [ES] does just that. It tries to spread cochala pride. He has started a cochala pride movement by making available free banners of his own design for cochabambinos who want to show off their identity. At the more personal level, MariaEscandalo, from Santa Cruz, goes all the way and talks about her homo-sexuality, a topic which in a Catholic country like Bolivia is considered taboo and, I imagine, is very hard to live with, while Las Mujeres Que Soy [ES] shares her love experiences without reservations. Now, in a very literary way, Mariana Ruiz, from Marea Y Cielo [ES], expresses her innermost feelings through poetry and prose. Last, but not least, Eduardo Alvarez, author of Cicatriz [ES, tells his readers simple but eloquent stories from his life.
In the last week, there were just two things most Bolivian bloggers had in mind, the crisis Bolivia is going through and Christmas. The first one touching on the fears and doubts Bolivians might have about their future and the future of the country itself. The second one, bringing much needed hope about the coming year.