Sunday, June 12, 2005

Bolivia: All Clear ... For The Moment

Blockades in Bolivia city removed
The last blockades remaining around Bolivia's main city, La Paz, have been lifted, allowing fuel into the city for the first time in weeks.

The move follows a truce from indigenous Indian protesters ahead of a meeting on Sunday with the new President, Eduardo Rodriguez.
There's more to the article, of course. I think you should read it. But the bottom line, as written by the BBC, looks like this:
Residents of the slum city of El Alto adjoining the capital were the last to end their protests.

They say their main demands for the nationalisation of Bolivia's rich gas reserves and constitutional reform have yet to be met.

And they warn that without progress on these issues, their truce will only be temporary.

Other protest groups - including Indian peasant farmers and miners - have been more conciliatory.

Roadblocks across much of Bolivia were lifted on Friday.

And so long as President Rodriguez calls new elections promptly, most protesters - for now at least - will be satisfied.
Meanwhile, the New York Times is reporting:

Bolivia Installs New Leader With Very Long 'To Do' List
LA PAZ, Bolivia, June 10 - Bolivia's new president, Eduardo Rodríguez, began his first day in office on Friday pledging to convene early elections while working with Congress to address the demands of angry citizens for the nationalization of the energy sector and the drafting of a new constitution to give the Indian majority more rights.
Mr. Rodríguez, whose appointment was so sudden that he was not presented with the traditional tricolor presidential sash during his swearing in, stressed that new elections must be held, not only for president but for members of Congress. The political class in Bolivia is reviled by the opposition as corrupt and beholden to special interests.
"One of my attributions, a capacity I have, is to convene an electoral process that would transform and renew citizen representation so this Congress can become more democratic, more just and more fair," Mr. Rodríguez said near midnight on Thursday, shortly after being sworn in.
He means "attributes", of course, and not "attributions". But I am not going to jump on him for the mistake. Why was I unwilling to cut george bush the same slack when he said "disassemble" rather than "dissemble"? Could it be because bush was [1] lying and [2] speaking his native language?
"He's an honest man, but he has a task you wouldn't wish on your enemies," said Eduardo A. Gamarra, the Bolivian-born head of Latin American studies at Florida International University in Miami. "He's a worker, and his character is more of someone wanting to do things for the long term, while his task here is very short term."
"That is a big challenge, to achieve accords with Congress for what would basically be the self-dissolution of the Congress," said Álvaro García, a political analyst in La Paz. The new president will also be under pressure to convene a citizen assembly leading to the drafting of a new constitution and a referendum that would give Bolivia's far-flung regions more autonomy. And he also faces the task of placating Bolivians who want the state to squeeze foreign energy companies, even to the point of expropriating installations.

Mr. Rodríguez stressed that many of the changes Bolivians want most must be fashioned with Congress. Political analysts question whether the lawmakers will cooperate.

"He's a temporary president and a prisoner of the forces of Parliament," Mr. García said. "He does not even have political experience, the capacity to influence Parliament or the enthusiasm of the social movements."
Thus quoth the New York Times. We shall see.

It says here that the Times has run four related articles in the past three months. One of those is still available for free and that's here.

By contrast, your lowly and nearly frozen blogger will continue to keep a close eye on Bolivia. Previous Winter Patriot posts concerning this remarkable series of protests are here and here and here and here and here and here. All free. All still available.