Yesterday was the Bolivian independence day. Bolivian flags flew everywhere. There were parades of high school bands, civic groups and vast contingents of the military. There were no protests, and smiles were visible everywhere.
But, on August 10, there is a referendum on the recall of the president and vice president and almost all the departmental prefects (think governors of the various states). Groups which would be natural allies of one or the other are making this their moment for demands, thinking that this is the point when they will have the most pressure. Among others, the rural teachers have been making a real name for themselves as they demand better pensions. They have blocked various bridges and roads and today threaten to insert themselves into the military parade. (If I were going to insert myself into a parade, I wouldn’t pick one composed of people with guns!)
As a result, from early today, explosions were heard all over Cochabamba. These are a type of bottle rocket used by groups to make obvious their presence. Believe me, their presence is obvious!
We we proceed into the weekend, we can probably expect more of the same. Then, on Sunday, is the vote.
After that, no one can predict what will happen. I wouldn’t want to be in La Paz if Evo Morales and the vice president are recalled. Similarly, I wouldn’t want to be in Santa Cruz if he isn’t. Here in Cochabamba, the prefect has threatened not to leave office if he is recalled. Fun and games.