The Shit Approaches the Fan

Howdy pardners!

Some of the more intuitive among you may have intuited that I am feeling rather excited for my trip, and if so, your intuition proves true. However, a close synonym for ‘excited’ also applies to my present state of feelings towards my trip: apprehensive.

<update> Hmm, I just read over this last paragraph and I just realized that is one horrible bit of writing. Can’t win ’em all. Sorry! </update>

Of course, I feel some natural, unavoidable apprehension because this will be my first overseas trip, I’ll be alone, blah blah blah. I have no fear that I won’t be able to handle the usual gamut of the gringo traveler, but it seems as though the gamut is steadily worsening.

Politics, as it turns out, is a very big thing in Bolivia. Friends of mine who have traveled there are singularily amazed at the political passion exhibited by the ordinary people. Strikes, roadblocks, and impromptu demonstrations or protests are all common in Bolivia, and everyone has (and often voices) their own strong opinions about the nation’s political situation. Compared to the Bolivians, we Canadians are apathetic political slugs.

Evo Morales

The current Bolivian president is Evo Morales, the country’s first-ever indigenous president (it must be noted that Bolivia has the highest proportion of indigenous people in South America — 60%). He is somewhat of the same cut as the Venezualan president Hugo Chavez. He is understandably popular with the poorer, mostly-indigenous population in the western highlands and Andean regions. However, he is not so popular in the richer lowlands to the East, most notably the province of Santa Cruz.

Map of Bolivia

Santa Cruz (which is the wealthiest Bolivian province) and the East in general is consider themselves to be of more European descent, but far more importantly it contains the nation’s reasonably impressive oil fields.

So here’s the shit: in the last month or so, Evo has announced sweeping constitutional reforms which not only give more power to the indigenous poor, but also remove the presidential constraint of serving only one consecutive term in office. The eastern lowlands, of course, are fiercly against this, and the last couple weeks have been marked by escalating tension, hunger strikes, roadblocks, and violence. In Sucre, hundreds were injured and three killed just a few days ago!

The US State department has issued a travel advisory in Bolivia due to the political unrest, but fortunately, it expires on January 11, 2008. I don’t arrive until the 16th, so it’s all good.

Until this morning, which I why I’m wasting time writing this blog when I should be at the library studying for my last exam.

This morning, four provinces (Beni, Pando, Tarija and Santa Cruz) have declared their intent to secede from Bolivia.

Things are not looking too good.

A sudden crush of study-guilt has just annihilated my interest in this . . . more on Bolivia later.

‘K Bye.




~ by turvyc on December 14, 2007.

One Response to “The Shit Approaches the Fan”

  1. Hello my dear friend!
    I bet if you compared Canadians’ political interest, activity and knowledge to almost ANY other country we could be considered “apathetic political slugs.” We could probably learn a thing or two from the many other areas of the world about how to get ‘er done!
    Miss you buddy. Hope you are safe!

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