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Bolivia: The Importance of a Gathering

Bolivia is said to be a country deeply divided among geographic, class and racial lines. Contact across these boundaries are often limited to daily interactions that are not always on equal footing. However, the emergence of blogs in Bolivia have proven to provide a new stage for mutual communication. Another step in this interaction took place on September 1, when the first gathering of bloggers took place in the city of Santa Cruz. The meeting dubbed, “Bloguivianos [ES]” was primarily attended by bloggers from host city, but also attracted bloggers from all across the country.

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Photo of networking panel discussion by Hugo Miranda and used with permission.

This was an opportunity for attendees to participate in a series of panel discussion about politics, literature, and networking. However, it was the personal interaction and the chance to meet face-to-face that was the real positive outcome of the day. Many documented the day's activities, but even more would reflect on the day's events on their own personal blogs.

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Post-gathering party. Photo by Miranda and used by permission.

Edson Hurtado [ES]

Todos estos días, estuve pensando en la importancia del Encuentro Nacional de Blogs… Y es que más allá de conocernos y reconocernos, el evento sirvió para confirmar que la nueva generación, la que ha nacido en democracia, la que está haciendo ciber-activismo ciudadano, la que está comprometida con la profundización de las relaciones humanas, y la consolidación de la tolerancia, está moviéndose para generar espacios de diálogo y reflexión.

These past few days, I have been thinking about the importance of the National Gathering of Blogs… Beyond getting to know each other, the event served the purpose of confirming that it is the new generation, the one born under a democracy, the one doing citizen's cyber-activism, which has the promise of deepening human relations and tolerance, which is moving towards creating spaces for dialogue and reflection.

From Santa Cruz, Ronaldo of Animal de Cuidad [ES]:

Una vez terminado el 1er Encuentro Nacional de Blogueros, también conocido como Encuentro Bloguiviano, me voy con una libreta llena de chistes, frases, números de teléfono y, sobre todo, nuevas direcciones de blogs. Para mí, la necesidad de conocer a las personas detrás de las pantallas, saberlas diversas, distintas, pero en sintonía, fue lo más estimulante de todo. Está por demás decirles que el nivel de respeto, tolerancia y camaradería fue indescriptible, hasta el punto de hacernos reflexionar a todos -al menos a mí- sobre la importancia del diálogo y la valiosísima contribución que podemos hacer en este país tan dividido.

Now that the 1st National Gathering of Bloggers has ended, also known as the Bloguiviano Gathering, I leave with a book full of jokes, phrases, telephone numbers and more than anything, new blog URLs. For me, there was a need to know the person behind the screen, and know that they are diverse, distinct, but in symphony, which was the most invigorating of all. In addition, the level of respect, tolerance and camraderie was indescribable, to the point to make us reflect – at least for me – the importance of dialogue and the valuable contribution that we can make to this country that is so divided.

Oscar Gutiérrez Peña of Toborochi Urbano [ES]

¿No será la blogósfera ese espacio de interacción humana donde para poder relacionarnos no importe ya un carajo el lugar donde naciste, el color de tu piel o el precio de tu celular? El tiempo lo dirá.

Isn't the blogosphere the space for human interaction where we can relate to one another without giving a damn where you were born, the color of your skin or the price of your cell phone? Only time will tell.

Guitarrero Cantor [ES]

No saben lo felíz que me he sentido este fin de semana. Y yo que pensaba que este país se iba al carajo, no che, es mentira todo lo que pasa “allá”. El sábado en el 1er. Encuentro Bloguiviano, me di cuenta de que una Bolivia nueva, puede ser posible. La Bolivia que quisiera estuvo ese día, ante mis ojos, y no me queda mas espacio en el pecho por llenarme de tanto orgullo.

You don't know how happy I have been this weekend. And I thought this country was going to hell, no man, it's a lie what is happening “over there.” On Saturday during the 1st Bloguiviano gathering, I became aware that a new Bolivia could be possible. The Bolivia that I want was present that day, in front of my own eyes, and there is no more room in my chest for so much pride.

Marco Antonio Vaca Martinez, who hails from Camiri, posted on his blog Caminante Con Destino [ES]

En pocos lugares me he sentido tan orgullo de ser boliviano, tan en familia y tan libre de decir lo que pienso y tambien respetado hacia mi forma de ver la vida, gente dispuesta a sacar lo que tenian adentro y sacarlo sin miedo a ser jusgados, vi sinceridad en muchas miradas

In few places have I felt so proud to be Bolivian, to feel so much in family and to feel so free to say what I think and also feel respected for my way of looking at life, people willing to show what they have inside and reveal it without feel of being judged. I saw a lot of sincerity in the way people interacted with one another.

Dario Manuel from El Alto

Ha dado la posibilidad (en el marco del respeto), de comprender que en nuestro país a pesar de nuestras diferencias, estamos unidos como una sola nación para el bien común. Que existe un amor profundo por nuestra patria que hacemos todo lo posible para mantenerla unida. El sentimiento de amistad verdadera de cada bloggero ha sido preponderante en este primer encuentro, nos hemos integrado a través de las palabras y el contacto amistoso de un saludo de manos que ha roto el hielo de la distancia comunicativa.

It provided us with the possibility (in the context of respect) to understand that in our country in spite of our differences, we are united as one nation for the common good. That there exists a profound love for our country and that we do everything possible to keep it unified. The feeling of real friendship had been evident during this first gathering, and we came together through words and the friendly contact of a handshake that broke the ice of the communicative distance.

Marco Montellano of Pandemonium [ES] of Tarija:

¿Qué me deja el primer encuentro bloguiviano? Pues mucha cosas…después de mucho tiempo, debo confesarlo, me siento motivado y con esperanzas en el país. Estoy más seguro que nunca de que nuestro concepto de Bolivia no puede ser ya el de los prejuicios de nuestros abuelos ni el de los esteriotipos de los medios

What do I take away from the first bloguiviano gathering? Well, many things… after quite some time, I must admit, that I feel motivated and with hope in the country. I am even more convinced that more than ever that our own concept of Bolivia can neither be the prejudices of our grandparents, nor the stereotypes of the media.

At the conclusion of the gathering, Montellano composed the following manifesto after spending the weekend with bloggers from all across the country noting that they are not so much different.

Nosotros, hombres y mujeres, jóvenes y adultos, paceños, alteños, orureños, potosinos, cochabambinos, sucrenses, tarijeños, cruceños, benianos, pandinos, vallegrandinos, aymaras, quechuas, mestizos y cholos, los que llegamos en flota y los que llegamos en avión, los que pronunciamos demasiado la S y los que nos la comemos… Los que día a día nos encontramos en las veredas – afirmamos que somos y nos sentimos parte de un edificio mayor llamado Bolivia y que estamos hartos de que nos obliguen a enfrentarnos; de que somos totalmente capaces de pensar y actuar por nuestra propia voluntad y no necesitamos pastores sino líderes.Gritamos con orgullo nuestras identidades individuales pero defendemos, como ladrillos que somos, la fortaleza de este, nuestro edificio mayor. Nuestro camino es el diálogo y nuestra característica la firmeza. Nos reconocemos como hermanos y no como enemigos y somos radicales sí, pero en la defensa de nuestra patria y nuestra democracia. Sabemos que nos necesitamos mutuamente y nos damos la mano. Somos bolivianos Carajo!!!

We are men and women, young and adults, from La Paz, from El Alto, from Oruro, from Potosi, from Cochabamba, from Sucre, from Tarija, from Santa Cruz, from Beni, from Pando, from Vallegrande, Aymara, Quechua, Mestizos and Cholos. We arrived on bus and on airplanes. We over pronounce the “S” and we leave it off. We are the ones that meet each other on the sidewalks – we affirm that we are part and feel a part of the structure called Bolivia. We are tired that they make us confront one another, that we are capable of thinking and acting with our own will. We do not need shepherds, but rather leaders. We cry out with pride for our own individual identities, but we defend, like the bricks that we are, the strength of our own structure. Our path is dialogue and our characteristic is our strength. We recognize one another as brothers and not as enemies. We may be radicals, but for the defense of our country and our democracy. We acknowledge that we mutually need one another and we extend our hands. We are Bolivians, dammit!

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