Convenient Realities in Bolivia's Blogs

We have gasoline again in Cochabamba, but at a heavy price; the international leaders of South America agreed to allow the Media Luna to participate in negotiations only on the condition that they remove all of their blockades. The blockades were the only peaceful bargaining chip available to the Media Luna, and blockades were in extremely heavy use by MAS during the Gas Wars of 2004/5 and in the presidential election of 2005. The hypocrisy is astounding.

Meanwhile, although the Media Luna has complied and ceased all blockades, the MASistas have constructed blockades of their own. Classy.

Pando, the northernmost department of Bolivia of the Media Luna, has fallen miltarily and politically. A major attack (by Bolivian standards) occurred last week which resulted in a few dozen dead, more injured, and over one hundred missing. The news outlets here offer two polar accounts of what happened:

Pando Ambush Version #1:

The prefect/governor of Pando hired men to ambush a group of peacefully marching/traveling campesinos and MASistas. The group was attacked and slaughtered in a massacre.

Pando Ambush Version #2:

Members of the prefect’s staff (plural?) were traveling when a group of armed MASistas and disguised Venezuelans ambushed and killed them. They then entered a non-MAS area and killed one of the leaders of the political opposition. The town gathered its resources and went on the offensive against the invaders. The MASistas, et al., fled into the terrain and escaped.

Elements for Analysis:

  • Naval military credentials were found on one of the bodies of the “campesinos”.
  • Venezuelans were in the group campesinos and MASistas.
  • Why would the prefect of Pando order an attack on a peaceful group of protesters? What could he possibly gain by that when he had everything to lose?
  • Earlier in the year a cable television public building was stormed and attacked by a group under the banner of the Autonomy forces. The truth was soon revealed and hushed up – the “opposition” attackers were actually members of Evo’s private guard, inciting violence and attempting to make the opposition look unruly and actively violent.

Edited for clarity and source provision. Two of the sources which I can track down several days later are: La Razon and El Deber. The problem with trusting any of the papers, mind you, is that they’re biased. The chief source for version #1, for example, is Red Erbol. Everything else I have is either from TV I can’t properly cite from membory or hearsay from sources I mostly trust but on whom I couldn’t state their words as fact. What does seem clear is that both sides were involved, but we don’t really know who “started” it. Joy.

At the very least, individuals and organizations who value truth – regardless of who turns out to be on top – should be presenting and thoroughly investigating both sides of this incident.

The Results of the Ambush Incident:

The prefect of Pando has been arrested and charged with genocide. The announcement has been made that he “will be given a trial in thirty years.” The international scene is only hearing Version #1. One of the theoretical advantages of the blogosphere and independent media is that a broader set of possibly truths can be presented. The English-speaking bloggers in Bolivia whose words are monitored by international news agencies, plus the A.P./Reuters set of reporters, apparently have no interest in objective truth-seeking.

This week I’ve seen words like “racist”, “fascist”, “democracy”, and “genocide” tossed around to no end. Over the next couple of days I will attempt to analyze those words as they apply to this situation.

People need a reality check.

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