Drawn out tension


Things are still extremely tense here in Bolivia. I'm gonna go out to the Calle 21 of San Miguel in a bit and see what I can see; I'll bring my camera along. But TV news is streaming in. I can't blog often, since I've got to leave the phone line open. Just in case.

Protests continue in Cochabamba. There was a small MAS (Evo Morales' party) march in Santa Cruz, w/ threats of looting. But then it was escorted by the military, so it turned out safe enough. Still, most of the mercados in Santa Cruz closed down.

A group of miners confronted the military about a 100 kilometers from La Paz. The miners can be dangerous, since they bring dynamite and more than willing to use it. A few days ago, a miner was killed when he accidentally set off his dynamite; the government agreed to pay an idemnity for him and those injured around him.

The tourist industry's taking a huge hit. So's the business sector. Cochabamba alone estimates a loss of $1 million per day; they worry that they'll have to start laying off workers to cover the cost.

In the end, the loser of all this tragedy is the Bolivian people. Food is running out in the city; many families are having a hard time finding food. First, because most markets in La Paz and El Alto are closed (if they open, protesters will sack them and beat the owners for being "unpatriotic"). Second, because weeks of highway protests have taken their toll, little foodstuff has come into the metropolitan area in days.

The saddest thing's that this will only affect the poor, not the rich. At worst, people in the Sona Zur are going w/o their café or ice cream (although we still went out for ice cream in San Miguel last night). We have plenty of food; we're essentially safe w/ our well-stocked fridges. But the people in El Alto, who live day-to-day, are suffering from the protests. The pressure's all on them, not on the sureños.

The longer the protests go, the worse the economy gets. And the more the poor suffer. If it goes on long enough, the government might be cheered, not condemned, when it cracks down. Perhaps Goni's waiting for that moment?

Posted by Miguel at 02:33 PM