Bolivia 2010: The Preview
You can breath easy again. The Democracy Center team is springing back into Blog mode after a well-deserved break for the holidays and the New Year. Here is a preview of some of the stories and events from Bolivia that are making news and that you can expect to see us writing about in the weeks to come.
Manfred on the Run in the USA
Different countries have different protocols for what becomes of the losing candidates following Presidential elections. Some stick around and become visible opposition figures, as with Senator John McCain in the U.S. Others seem to disappear from the political scene and surface again only as the answer to a trivia question. In Bolivia, the distant second place finisher in last December's vote, Manfred Reyes Villa, has taken the disappearing route – literally. The former Cochabamba Governor has evidently fled to the U.S. to escape trial on corruption charges. His backers call the charges a political vendetta by President Morales. His detractors say the vague charges of corruption that have always seemed to follow him finally have a paper trail. Stay tuned!
Evo – the Second Coming
On January 22 Evo Morales will be sworn in to his second term as Bolivia's President, with twin ceremonies at the ancient ruins of Tihuanacu and the capital in La Paz. Los Tiempos reports that the government has budgeted at least one million dollars for the ceremony, raising charges of an expensive coronation using funds that could be better spent elsewhere (my vote would have been for trash receptacles in Tiquipaya). Just to make sure our readers get their money's worth, we'll be there.
Elections Again – Really!
Bolivia just seems to have more elections these days that it does kinds of potatoes (and it has a lot of kinds of potatoes!). Just when you thought election season was over, guess what, we are headed into ballot mode here once again. On April 4 voters will go back to work once more to select the governors for the country's nine departments and mayors for Bolivia's cities. Local news has been full of the jockeying by various politicians as they position themselves to run. The most popular story – MAS' selection of 25-year-old former Miss Bolivia, Jessica Jordan, to be its candidate for governor in the department of Beni. We still await word on her qualifications, other than being much better looking than any of her likely opponents.
Coming to Cochabamba: Copenhagen II (sort of)
Dissatisfied with the progress made on global climate change at the recent international summit on Copenhagen, President Evo Moales has called for an alternative summit of developing countries and social movements here in Cochabamba in April. What will actually happen here and how effective it will be is still unclear. But maybe we can get delegates to chip in on those trash receptacles.
Water Balloons on the Loose!
Lastly, as a public service, we wish to remind our readers of the following warning: If you like to stay dry do not walk the streets in the center of Cochabamba for the next few weeks. Carnival is still weeks away but there are already water balloon sightings. I for one will be escaping next week for an unnamed location in Asia on a secret work assignment. However, I will return in time for Carnival's high water mark in Cochabamba in February and if there if there is popular demand I will consider making a return appearance on the balcony of the Democracy Center's office dressed as a nun on the day of the "entrada" parade. Maybe. Read here for more on Carnival in Cochabamba.
That's a look at what's coming to Bolivia in the next few months, and coming soon in more detail here on the Blog.