7 December 2007

Civil War in Bolivia? Not Yet

Pablo Stefanoni

A term that anyone would think many times over before using as a possibility in any other Latin American country, is used almost by reflex in Bolivia. In the case of Bolivia, the international press moreover articulates this with a certain ‘exoticism’ about the country which seems to entitle them to a sort of information impunity and which allows them literally to say anything without any consequences. Nevertheless, is a civil war possible in Bolivia?

It is certain that a regional dispute exists between the east and west. It is also true that the elites of Santa Cruz were displaced from national power since the “gas wars” of 2008 when their parties became historical relics. It is also evident today that these groups are looking to entrench themselves in their areas against the “indigenous populism” that threatens them more in their imagination than in reality. Paradoxically, such is the Right’s obsession with Venezuela that it is more “Venezuelaised” than the government itself and took as its own a strategy that in the Caribbean country (Venezuela) failed in all respects: abstention and destabilisation. The same as with the Venezuelan Right, whose abstention left 100% of the Parliament in the hands of Chavismo, our Right has vacated the Constituent Assembly and these days the Parliament at the time of voting for “renta Dignidad” (pension for the elderly). And, like the Chavistas till the coup of 2002, some dream of throwing Evo Morales out of power before time.

The most radical opposition groups would do better to read calmly what happened in Venezuela which not only instructs the Left but also sends out useful lessons for the conservatives: respect for democratic rules gives more in interest than blind putschism. Returning to the theme of a civil war, the armed forces appear to be far from fractured and have forcefully warned that they will act against any attempt to “divide the country”. Two factions of the military that is needed to create an internal battle do not exist. And in Bolivia, inflamed rhetoric many times makes it difficult to separate discourse from reality.

Speaking of the armed groups in Santa Cruz, the only ones seen till now are the racist bands of the Young Santa Cruz Youth, armed with sticks who, despite their pretensions, appear far from being Hitler Youth (and their racism is rather pathetic). Till now, the Right could not demonstrate the presence of Venezuelan military “ready to act” and the major proof of the government on the connection of the U.S. Embassy with “Colombian paramilitaries” and the “Santa Cruz” oligarchy is a chance photo (at a fair) of the U.S. ambassador with a smiling Colombian crook.
Published in La Razón, Bolivia, on December 4, 2007. Link:

No comments: