Things have gotten pretty bad in the eastern part of Bolivia. Today the U.S. State Department issued an advisory saying they were recalling all non-essential personnel and families of embassy officials because of the violence. Considering that the U.S. embassy is in La Paz, which resides in the western part of the country, far, far away from the violence, this appears to be more a political move than anything serious.
At the same time, people have been killed in Pando, the far north province of Bolivia. The details are frightening. Some of the violence in Pando and Santa Cruz can be seen in this YouTube video:
While some are saying that a civil war is imminent, the leaders of a number of the South American countries are currently meeting in Santiago de Chile to see what they can do about the crisis. The actions of these presidents last May helped defuse the situation then, and one hopes the same thing will happen this time. The presidents of both Venezuela and Brazil have voiced their strong support for the constitutional government of Evo. Brazil is the powerhouse of South America and the major consumer of Bolivia’s natural gas, and so Lula’s support for Evo is important.
One has to remember that it was only a little over a month ago when Evo was reconfirmed as president by an overwhelming 67% of the population. This frustrated the eastern prefects, who were also confirmed in office, and the result is this violence and carnage.
Here in Cochabamba, things have been calm. We had the celebration of Cochabamba Day for three days now, which helped, but there doesn’t seem to be any undercurrent of tension or anticipation. We can only hope this continues.