Referendum Vote, May 4
Sorry on that last blog couldn't get the photos in. Seems our computer needed some work and we'll try again. But for now, just want to add some notes on the referendum note for anyone who is following Bolivia's political situation.
Yesterday, Sunday was the vote. Elections are usually held on Sundays since it is a non-work day for most. Everyone was to stay home, bars and licore stores closed 48 hours before, it was illegal to port arms or weapons and everyone was to stay in their neighborhoods and walk to the polls. Daniel walked about a mile to our polling site, waited in line to sign in, be given his papaer balots, be fingerprinted as a sign of presenting himself to vote and then place his ballot in the cardboard box. It is interesting here that voting is not just considered a prililege, but a very solemn duty. Some banks and public institutions do not want to wait on people the day following the vote if your finger is not ink-tainted as a sign that the person had voted.
Well, the refererdum passed. There was very little violence and what did ocur was in a couple of places that had been anticipated as there was a strong leadership of MAS (Socialists Movement Party which is the ruling party in La Paz.) During the voting the President played soccer, having declared this election illegal. Actually it is NOT illegal, but that, of course, depends on your interpretation of the Constitution. However, I must add that the international press has pretty much sided with the La Paz or Evo's version of the events. MUch of the information is distorted and even in many cases just plainly NOT TRUE.
So now we'll have to see how the Central governemnt deals with this. NOw they MUST negociate.
For those of you who are unsure of what the voting was about. Santa Cruz WAS NOT voting to be independent of, or succeed from the Nation. It was voting to have some of what we in the US would call 'States Rights" which they do NOt currently have.
Not only is Santa Cruz calling for this, but four other states - here we call them 'departamentos' have already scheduled their vote for this same autonomy. This vote in Santa Cruz was the first and probably the most important since Santa Cruz is such a large and economically powerful departamento. It produces 40% of all the nations per capita income and goods.
If you want more information, read Miguel's blog mcentellas.com. For me, it was an interesting day. I'm thankful there was so little violence.
I proudly wore my 'autonomia' T shirt that evening as we went out to church.