This map shows the nine departments of Bolivia. Each deparment has a prefect. This is superficially comparable to the American States and their governors.
Four of the departments, those marked with a blue half moon, are referred to jointly as the Media Luna, or Half Moon. The Media Luna are currently in strong opposition to the current president, Evo Morales, and his political party, MAS – Movimiento al Socialismo, or Movement towards Socialism. Evo and the administrative capital of Bolivia are located in La Paz.
Chuquisaca is the seat of Sucre, the constitutional capital of Bolivia. Chuquisaca is a bit of a toss-up in its political leanings; not traditionally part of the Media Luna, but unwilling to lose its constitutional and historical position as having the primary capital in its capital city of Sucre, which is what MAS would prefer.
Cochabamba is traditionally a neutral location. Little violence hits Cochabamba, and usually the elections are extremely close. Neither MAS nor the opposition have a strong foothold here. Cochabambinos tend to be rather like Texans; Cochabambinos care mostly about the condition of Cochabamba.
We’re located in the city of Cochabamba, which is the capital of the department of Cochabamba. We’re approximately 8500ft above sea level. Although we are very high up, the city is located in a valley bowl surrounded by mountains. Three solid “highway” passes exist which lead outside of the valley towards the Chapare (countryside, essentially) and the other departments.
The Media Luna departments border Argentina and Brazil. Unfortunately, in blowing the natural gas pipelines to those countries which imported Bolivian natural gas, the Media Luna has made political enemies of them. No foreign support there.
Evo / MAS have the strong support of Chavez in Venezuela. Chavez has committed his support politically and militarily to Evo. Venezuelan military are currently in parts of Bolivia.
The Media Luna have more or less closed the domestic borders to the other departments. Exports from those departments have been ceased. Gasoline and beef are those which chiefly affect Cochabamba.
Active violence is occurring in the Media Luna departments. The violence is incited by both MAS and Media Luna.
Now then. Let’s evaluate our position. We’re in the center of Cochabamba. The Bolivian military is currently in the Pando. In order to defeat the Media Luna, the military needs to stay a fairly intact force. They will probably opt to enter the Beni, followed by Santa Cruz, and then down through Tarija if they deem it necessary. They could cut through Cochabamba from La Paz in order to get to Santa Cruz, but, a) nothing really seems to be gained by this, b) it would split the strength of the attack, and c) it would alienate the people of Cochabamba who have heretofor been pretty neutral.
That’s why we’re staying for now. The physical danger is out on the street, and that’s reasonably handled by additional safety measures like only leaving our gates in groups and remaining armed with police nightsticks when we close and open the gate for entering students. For us the largest interference is on the political level more than anything else.