Wednesday, November 30, 2005

On Jose Luis Paredes

Jose Luis Paredes, a candidate for La Paz prefect with Podemos, has come out as the embodiment of the worst in Bolivian politics.

After starting with the political party MIR, Paredes went on to establish his own Plan Progreso, but he soon switched to Doria Medina's Unidad Nacional, only to leave him hanging in the air for Podemos. The last change came hours before candidates were to be registered in the corte Nacional Electoral. Without anything even related to ethics, Jose Luis Paredes showed that the important thing for him was to get the job, regardless of the means.
Now, in his latest action (read it here) he has once again kicked his constituents in the teeth by criticizing Tuto and searching for an alliance with Evo Morales. His twisted rationale seems to show an eagerness to be on good terms with whoever gets elected as president. He has been even encouraging people to use crossed voting (to vote for him as prefect but for Evo as president).

According to him, the only reason why he pronounced his support to Evo is because Tuto is damaging the campaign by dividing the voters. But, the question is, couldn't he have said so directly to Quiroga? No, of course not. Why? Is it, perhaps, because it is easier to be corrupt when you have a friendly watchman looking over your shoulder? Is it because the only thing guys like him care about is the cheque at the end of the month? It's anybody's guess. Answers below, please.

On the bright side, Evo has dismissed the call from Paredes, telling the media that he would never agree on a pact with him. So, Paredes has been left cold. Take note, this is the first time I am actually happy Morales acted the way he did. He even asked what is on my mind now: What authority, what ethics can Jose Luis Paredes have in order to make politics? What kind of person is this? He also revealed that Paredes already approached him before leaving UN for Podemos.

Anyway, the filthy mercenary should not be too worried. Podemos has already ratified him as prefectural candidate. Why? The most pragmatic answer may point to the fact that Podemos has already withdrawn the candidacy of two prefects (in Santa Cruz and Cochabamba) and don't want to lose the only one left in the central axis. Also, everything indicates that he is still Podemos (?) best chance of winning the prefecture in La PAz.

I sincerely hope this imbecile does not get elected. First, because he has showed his true colors. He has no intention of standing against Evo Morales as he is not really a Podemos but his own candidate. He will be swift to kiss Morales' ass the first chance he gets. Second, because even if some voters are tired of Quiroga's attacks on Morales, it will be far more damaging knowing that he is not even able to control his own party and becasue it shows that some candidates for Podemos are nothing but filthy, intriguing politicians, ready to do whatever is necessary to get to power.

One more person to the list of people who make me want to throw up.

Update: Jose Luis Paredes has ratified his loyalty to Quiroga anda criticized Morales for not acceding to his plea. After Morales' reaction, this was to be expected. He really, REALLY wants to be elected, see? Read it here.

Musical Meme

Just read the Musical Meme from MABB, where he passes the ball to this blog. The idea, as I understand is to list the music I am listening to alphabetically. (Read MABB's Meme to get a better idea). I hope I got the idea, so here's my liszt:

a: Alan Parson's Project
a: Alice Cooper (limited to Welcome to my nightmare)
a: Andres Calamaro (up to Honestidad Brutal. I am not so keen on El Salmon)
b: Bach (JS)
b: Beethoven
b: Beatles
b: Alban Berg
c: The Clash
d: David Bowie (his 70s albums)
f: Franz Ferdinand
g: (Philip) Glass
g: Gorillaz
g: Green Day
h: Humperdinck (the german composer, not the singer)
j: Jethro Tull (almost exclusively Aqualung)
l: Led Zeppelin
l: Liszt
m: Manu Chao
m: Mozart
p: Pink FLoyd (just the Roger Waters period)
q: Queen
r: Radiohead
r: Rossini
s: Scissor Sisters
s: Soda Stereo
s: South Park: BLU soundtrack
s: Stravinsky
v: Vivaldi
w: Weber (Karl Maria, not the lame musical-writer. I'm talking Freischutz here)
w: The Who
z: Frank Zappa

To whom shall we pass this on? To Tuco in "The Economist en su laberinto"!

Authors of "Latin American Idiot" on Bolivia

Two of the authors of The Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot have written articles on Bolivia this week, showing how, as we near the election date, the electoral show gains more and more prominence.

The two articles, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa and Carlos Alberto Montaner, coincide in showing that Evo Morales is not, as some European and North American pundits believe, a Bolivian Nelson Mandela, but the latest and most dangerous mix of populism and racism.

So, Carlos Alberto Montaner's article talks about the state of polls in Bolivia, which dangerously show Evo as the frontrunner. He then proceeds to talk about the shortcomings of the Bolivian ruling elite, which allowed a candidate like Morales to flourish. His analysis, while simple, is accurate: If the Bolivian ruling had been concerned about solving poverty rather than distributing the power quotas, the Evo phenomenon would not exist. Finally, he even suggests that an Evo presidency might even involve a new war with Chile. This is a point that should be treated with caution: While Evo's rethoric has been incendiary, the vice-presidential candidate for MAS has said that they would be willing to sell gas to Chile. So, where does that leave us? That leave us in the big grey area in the middle, where we actually do not know MAS' posture on Chile. They have probably done this deliberately, so they can keep using the Chile scapegoat in case things go wrong or hail a "new beginning" in relations, where we sell them gas, probably on similar terms to what Tuto would have done, but "as a sovereign nation, not as lackeys", to use MAS' rethoric. In other words, I don't see a war against Chile on the cards. All Bolivian presidential candidates or elected officials should probably know that their armed forces are too much for ours, that still use the same equipment from the Chaco war of the 1930s. Chile would probably march in La Paz before the first 12 hours of this hypothetical war had passed. If a war with Chile were an option, a president in trouble, like Goni or Mesa would probably have used the strategy to rally the people behind their policies. To conclude: Montaner simple loses the plot by suggesting this possibility.

Alvaro Vargas Llosa's article, on the other hand, is extremely well written and insightful. He starts by warning external observers of Bolivian politics that Evo is not the romantic character they want to believe in, but a "real-life tragedy" that will bring lasting consequences for Bolivia (and the region). [That point cannot be stressed too much: a quick read to the extremely biased account by Sandalista Jim Schultz in Blog from Bolivia shows the extent to which people are buying this notion] He then points out that it was the nationalistic, import-substituting policies from the 1952 revolution that allowed leaders like Morales to rise. He also points the US as a great culprit, because they kept financing otherwise unsound fiscal policies. And what does Evo want now? Instead of rectifying the wrongs done to his generation by opening up markets, he wants to go back to what caused the problem in the first place: nationalizing.

Friday, November 25, 2005


One quick question: Does this have anything to do with this?
Was Evo referring to it when he said he would demonstrate that coca grown in the Chapare does have a market?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

CIA: Castro has Parkinson's disease

According to two CIA officials, the Cuban dictator has Parkinson's disease. Although rumours on Castro's health started in the mid-90s, he could be nearing a period where the symptoms are more evident and his mental functions start to deteriorate.
This could bring the island to a period of instability, if his brother and appointed successor, Raul Castro, who is also the head of the armed forces, is eager to take office but Fidel refuses to step down.
According to analysts, even larger questions remain: How will Castro's henchmen react to his deteriorating health? And, of course, how that could affect the role of Raul as other government officials start their own bids to power.
The article concludes by saying that
The revolution could be hanging by a thread

Read the whole thing here.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

On Gas Reserves

While Bolivians keep fighting over what to do with their gas reserves and voters hear slogans like "Gas por Mar", Venezuela has kept moving and is proposing to build the largest gas pipeline of the continent, from Venezuela to Argentina, obviously passing through Brazil (Brazil and Argentina are the current buyers of Bolivian gas).

This would effectively keep Bolivia from developing its energetic resources and getting much needed cash. It's called "Socialismo del Siglo XXI".

Read it here.


Evo and the FTAA

In this article, IBD shows that the summit of the Americas was a triumph for FTAA, despite the lack of agreement. The articles correctly points out that only 5 countries were opposed to it - Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela - and 4 of them did so because of valid concerns, not because of a shared ideological base with the 5th country, Venezuela. These 4 countries are bound to reach a free trade agreement with the US anytime soon, while Venezuela keeps locked up.
However, reading today's La Razon, there is a reason for concern, the concern being that instead of one, two countries will reject FTAA because of ideology. In this article MAS proposes the creation of a regional trade block to counter NAFTA and the EU. I guess MAS has never heard of MERCOSUR, of which Bolivia is an associate country. Perhaps their proposal is to reach full membership? Or does MAS believe that having access to bigger markets is a bad thing? Ask Evo.
Regarding FTAA, they are saying that they don't oppose it, they just want it to occur under different, and so far unexplained, terms. However, if we match this statement with another ones made by Evo, stating that he would be Bush's worst nightmare if elected and would only erradicate coca if the US cut the demand for cocaine, the picture becomes clear: Perhaps these terms relate to the free commerce of cocaine? In any case, I don't see FTAA taking place under MAS.
Finally, I don't see the FTAA stalling just because of Bolivia, just remember Fox's words. If anything, Bolivia is bound to get more benefits from entering the agreement than the FTAA from such a small and poor market. There you have one more reason to hope Evo is not the next president.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Evo's New Strategy

Now that the president has put a date on the elections, left-wing extremist Evo Morales has decided a new strategy. On the surface, he will be an advocate for democracy an the elections taking place. In fact, according to this article in La Prensa, Evo lamented the existence of such eagerness to prevent the elections from taking place. He also added that "we [MAS] will defend the democracy and continue standing by her side". Beneath that surface, Evo and MAS are boycotting the elections. According to this article in La Razon, two of MAS MPs are involved in a law suit against Rodiguez' decree, for unconstitutionality.
So, has Evo gone crazy? No, on the contrary, he has just found a great election strategy. Undecided voters are not going to reason "MAS MPs boycotted the election", but "the congress boycotted the election". As most MPs are from traditional parties, the more radical and anti-congress MAS turns, the more it will become, in their view, the only chance for change. So, he will use his MPs to stall the December 18 elections as much as possible, while tearing his clothes and lamenting how traditional-party MPs and oligarchs want to prevent him and the poor winning the elections.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Castro & Chavez Strike Again

Being a doctoral student, I get mails on conferences across the UK frequently. Today, however, instead of receiving information on conferences, I got information on the shameless brainwashing attempt these two dictators are trying to pull here in the United Kingdom. Read the pdf flyer here.

Under the name "Haciendo posible un mundo mejor" (mistranslated as "Making another world possible") this event will cover topics
From the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela to resistance in Colombia; from Cuba's experience of socialism and the fight against the US blockade. From the struggles for the rights of indigenous peoples, to the struggle to finally control its own destiny - Latin America is changing.

From the southernmost tip of Patagonia to the Mexican-US border at the Rio Grande the continent is fighting back. Progressive forces are on the offensive and people are challenging the US neoliberal agenda for the region.

The speakers of this faux conference are, among others, members of Telesur's board, the executive producer of the shamelessly biased mockumentary "The Revolution will not be televised" and the author of propaganda pamphlets "In the Shadow of the Liberator: The Impact of Hugo Chavez on Venezuela and Latin America" and "Cuba: A New History" Richard Gott. Of course the world is better for them now. Are they going to talk about their lucrative activities under the dictatorships or what?. The only thing missing from here are MAS representatives.

Finally, in case things were not clear, the event is
Organised by Venezuela Information Centre /Cuba Solidarity Campaign /Transport & General Workers Union

Brainwashing is on.

A copy of the email I got is below.

Dear Friends

Please find attached information on the Latin America 2005, a major conference featuring speakers from Cuba, Latin America and the UK, which will take place on Saturday 3 December in central London. I hope that you will be able to distribute this information amongst your staff and students. Leaflets are available on request. The information below includes a link to to the flyer (PDF file).

Many thanks


Making Another World Possible: Haciendo possible un mundo mejor

SATURDAY 3rd Dec 2005

9.30am - 5pm

NUT, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1
Nearest tube: Kings Cross/Euston

Get the flyer (PDF).

From the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela to resistance in Colombia; from Cuba's experience of socialism and the fight against the US blockade. From the struggles for the rights of indigenous peoples, to the struggle to finally control its own destiny - Latin America is changing.

From the southernmost tip of Patagonia to the Mexican-US border at the Rio Grande the continent is fighting back. Progressive forces are on the offensive and people are challenging the US neoliberal agenda for the region.

Latin America 2005 brings together trade unionists, NGOs, academics and progressive movements from Latin America and the UK to explore recent developments across the region. Latin America 2005 features films, music, discussion on:


Guest speakers including:

TARIQ ALI: Author and broadcaster. Member of Telesur advisory board
SUE BRANFORD: Author and journalist. Chair, Latin America Bureau
BARRY CAMFIELD: Assistant General Secretary, Transport and General Workers Union
NORA CASTAÑEDA: President, Women’s Development Bank, Venezuela
JOHN CRABTREE: Latin America Centre, Oxford University
RICHARD GOTT: Author and journalist
JENNY PEARCE: Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford
OLGA SALANUEVA: Cuba, Campaign to Free the Miami Five
ISAAC SANEY: Author “Cuba - A Revolution in motion”
ROD STONEMAN: Executive Producer “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”

Registration £8 waged (£6 unwaged)
OR SEND PAYMENT TO: Cuba Solidarity Campaign (LA2005), c/o Red Rose Club, 129 Seven Sisters Road, London N7 7QG

Organised by Venezuela Information Centre /Cuba Solidarity Campaign /Transport & General Workers Union

Supported by Brazil Network, Caribbean Labour Solidarity, Central America Women's Network, Haiti Support Group, Justice for Colombia, Latin America Bureau, Latin American Elderly Project, Liberation, Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign, Noticias Latin America, One World Action, Peru Support Group, Transport & General Workers Union, War on Want

More info contact CSC: 020 7263 6452 or see website:

Trish Meehan
CSC Office
Cuba Solidarity Campaign
Tel. 0207 263 6452
Fax. 0207 561 0191
c/o Red Rose Club,
129 Seven Sisters Rd,
London N7 7QG

, , ,

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Elections back on track

Yesterday, President Eduardo Rodriguez put and end to the congressional deadlock on seat redistribution. So, by passing decree 28429, Rodriguez changed the election date for December 18th, distributed the seats himself, based on "population and equity", and swore that a parliamentary struggle for seats is resolved in this way for "the only and last time".

According to this article of Cochabamba's newsrag Los Tiempos, six regions support the measure, while La Paz, Santa Cruz and Potosi have not made any comments yet. Also, the presidential candidates for Podemos, MAS, UN and MNR have all come forward to support the decree.

The new seat allocation is as follows:

La Paz goes from 31 to 29

Santa Cruz from 22 to 25

Cochabamba from 18 to 19

Potosí from 15 to 14

Oruro from 10 to 9

Chuquisaca 11 (unchanged)

Tarija 9 (unchanged)

Beni 9 (unchanged)

Pando 5 (unchanged)

Total Number of seats: 130

Update 1:
According to this article, Santa Cruz will not present any demands to the Constitutional Tribunal regarding the president's redistribution. Also, La Paz, Potosi, Oruro and Cochabamba accepted the redistribution and said that they are not interested in losing or gaining seats, that their main priority are the December 18 elections. Wait... WHAT?!?!?! Since when were elecions their priority???

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Five (Unconstitutional) Proposals

It has been some time since my last post, mostly because Bolivia is the country where everything happens, but nothing changes. The Parliament is still debating the redistribution of congressional seats (which bores me and annoys me to death) and probably will do so for some time. As a result, the December 4 elections have been postponed to God knows when. The issue of redistribution has become, as most serious political issues in the hands of our legislators, nothing but an unfunny joke.

The latest bit is that they are trying to decide among 5 different options how redistribute seats. The five options are:

1. Proposed by MNR MP (member of parliament) Oscar Sandoval.
Two more seats for Santa Cruz: Sandoval presented a project in which he proposes giving two more seats to Santa Cruz at the expense of Oruro and Potosi, without taking a single seat from La Paz and without giving anything to Cochabamba.

2. Proposed by the President of the Republic, Eduardo Rodriguez.
Equity for the smaller regions: Rodriguez' project states maintaining the equity criteria for the smaller regions, giving them five seats each and redistribute the remaining seats according to population. He also proposes two extra seats for Santa Cruz at the expense of Oruro and Potosi.

3. Proposed by ex-vicepresident Luis Ossio.
Increase the number of seats in the lower house. The proposal is to increase the total number of seats to 145, giving 5 extra seats to Santa Cruz, 3 to Cochabamba and one to each of the remaining seven regions.

4. Cochambamba MP Rene Jaldin
Increase the number of seats in the lower house. This proposal recommends to give four extra seats to Santa Cruz and two to Cochabamba (as the Constitution dictates) without taking any seats from the other regions, thus increasing the number of MPs to 136.

5. Proposed by Senator Leopoldo Fernandez.
Distribution based on percentages. He suggests three seats for Santa Cruz and one for Cochabamba, at the expense of La Paz, which would lose two seats, Potosi and Beni, which would lose one seat each. This project has not reached the lower house yet.

It is amazing, then, that you have 5 different projects to choose from, and none is constitutional. At least, as I understand things, the constitution is very clear. For each election you should redistribute 130 parliamentary seats according to the last census. Thus, regions whose population increase is higher gain seats and regions with lower population increase lose seats. Simple as that. In this case, Santa Cruz has to gain four seats, Cochabamba two and La Paz, Oruro and Potosi lose seats. Any other solution does not abide by the constitution.

So, proposals like 1 and 2, where the idea is to give Santa Cruz two seats (two seats? based on what, exactly? why not one? or three?) are nothing but a polite way of telling Santa Cruz to stop bothering and fuck off, literally. In a similar vein, where in the constitution is it stated that seats can be increased at will, just to keep one or two regions happy? Nowhere. So, proposals 3 and 4 are just unconstitutional ways of keeping La Paz, Potosi and Oruro calm. Proposal 5 is just an hybrid, and should not be taken seriously, at least until it reaches the lower house.

Why don't we have at least one proposal where Santa Cruz gains four seats, Cochabamba gains two, and La Paz, Oruro and Potosi lose seats, while the total number of seats remains unchanged, as the Constitutional Tribunal said? Post your answers in hte comments section, please.

There is an upside to this mess, though. In case Evo Morales wins the next elections and tries to pull a Chavez by rewriting the constitution, it is relaxing to know that not even legislators take the constitution seriously.