Blame it on El Niño or blame it on the West. Either way, much of the eastern part of Bolivia found itself drastically affected by heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding that left thousands displaced and caused millions of dollars of damage. Reaction or lack of reaction from the government was interpreted in political terms, as many were left wondering why the government of President Evo Morales did not immediately declare the area a national disaster. The reaction from the rest of the country showed the true colors of its citizens with hundreds of thousands of dollars raised.
Officially the high volume of precipitation was caused by the phenomenon known as “El Niño” (The Child), but President Morales wondered aloud whether some of the western countries may have been directly responsible for these unusual and deadly weather patterns. Jim Shultz from the Democracy Center blog says that Morales raises a good question, whether Bolivia is bearing the result of these climate changes possibly caused by industrialized nations. Federico Fuentes also reports on this ongoing debate in his blog Bolivia Rising, which reprinted his article that was also published in Green Left Online.
Many in the department of Beni waited for a declaration of national emergency, yet it seemingly did not come. Andrés Pucci did not understand the insensitivity of the Minister of Rural Development, Susana Rivero, who said that such an emergency would be declared only in the event of a tsunami. Considering that Bolivia is a landlocked country without a coastline, Pucci thought the comment was even that much more absurd. Days later, the government decided to declare the national emergency in the three provinces most affected. Some analysts say that the decision not to declare a national emergency had more to do with the ongoing process of land reform, than the government's sensitivity to the disaster. According to the land reform law (INRA), any lands under such a declaration are no longer eligible for any reversion.
A new blog called Déjà vu [ES], written by Erick Sivila Flores thought the media coverage was unfairly using the tragedy to collect money in benefit.
También, es muy lamentable que se use este momento tan delicado para: canales de televisión queriendo hacer su obra de beneficio, mostrando personas afectadas llorando, osea es muy bajo…… sin pompas ni sonajas sería mejor no?
It is also regrettable that some television channels in an effort to do their charity work are showing crying people that have been affected, that’s low…it should be without pomp or noise, right?
While the images of the disaster filled the television screens, many Bolivians took the images to heart and came aboard the campaign “Solidarity Bolivia,” which raised nearly 3 million Bolivianos (approximately 375,000 USD). Mauricio Aira and his new blog Bolivia Primera Plana [ES] urges all religious, political, social and business organizations to join the cause. In spite of all the name calling and resentment among Bolivians in the polarized political and social environment, the anonymous blogger Morir Antes Que Esclavos Vivir [ES] salutes those Bolivians that contributed to this campaign and writes, “Congratulations, Bolivia, that is what it means to be Bolivian!” Carlos Hugo Quintanilla of Del Quintacho su Rincón [ES] also applauds the show of solidarity and says that this shows that Bolivia is one country.
This time, last year:
Visits by Uruguayan President Tabaré Vazquez and a visit by President Morales to Chile continue Bolivia’s attempt of integration with the rest of its South American neighbors. The heavy workload assumed by Morales in his first two months of office also shows his lack of desire to maintain a family.
Special thanks to Mario Duran of his blog Palabras Libres [ES] for submission of links that contributed to this article.