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  • Writer's pictureKen

What's happening now?

If I had a dollar for every time I wrote, "Things are moving quickly here!" over the last few days of the civil strike...well, I'd have a lot of dollars. That last Sunday especially, it was hard to keep up. The OAS (Organization of American States) released their statement that they had found evidence of massive fraud in the election. Then MAS (the political group of Evo) government ministers started resigning left and right. The joke was, every time you went to the bathroom, three MAS ministers resigned while you were gone. We were supposed to go to church that afternoon (Kairos was holding their first service since the civil strike started), but there was too much happening to leave.

Then we saw videos start showing up on social media showing that the Presidential plane had left the airport (the news media was always a few minutes later than Facebook). Then there was video of the plane landing at a small airport near the Argentinian border (we later found out that none of the countries around us would let him land). Then there was actual video of Evo outside the plane and we new for sure that he was running.

Eventually, Mexico granted him asylum and after a long (LONG), "poor me" video, he was gone. He signed the papers on the way out the door and we thought that was the end of him. We should be so lucky. His long speech did give us time to take a "Goodbye Evo" picture though.

Since then, people have been asking what the political situation is. After live blogging the revolution and spamming everyone I knew that last Sunday, I’ve know I've been a bit silent since. I suppose that’s because, in some ways, it feels like life has returned to normal since Evo’s resignation. Businesses are open, classes have started up again and most have us have parked our bikes and are back behind the wheels of our vehicles.

For the most part, life feels fine.

But then videos of violence and unrest show up on Facebook and you realize that things aren’t actually okay. In many of the highland cities and in some of the jungle areas, there has been a lot of fighting between government supporters and the police and military. While the majority of Bolivians wanted to see Evo gone, there are still significant numbers of people that supported him and feel that he was forced out of office unfairly.

In Cochabamba and La Paz/El Alto especially, there have been violent clashes between demonstrators and the police. As well, closer to home, blockades have gone up on many of the highways into Santa Cruz. These blockades are not allowing trucks of food or gasoline to enter the city. David went to visit his daughters on the weekend and said that he walked for hours past numerous blockades.

For us, all that’s happened so far is that a few vegetables and fruits have gotten more scarce and expensive in the market. For the most part, we’re not feeling the impact. I imagine, though, that will begin to change soon. It takes a lot of food to feed a city of millions, and the majority of that food travels those highways.

I find it difficult sometimes, to sort out fact from fiction when talking about Evo and his past. I think I’ll say that when he initially became president, I believe he had a heart for the poor and did help relieve the burden of extreme poverty for many in Bolivia.

However, he was a coca farmer and there’s a lot of evidence that he had strong ties to narco trafficking before he became president. People here strongly believe that throughout his presidency, he continued working with those same traffickers. At a minimum he made life easy for them but it’s also quite possible that he was actively involved in their trade. People believe there’s a reason he went to Mexico, instead of Venezuela or Cuba. That’s where his friends are.

At any rate, Evo is desperate to return to Bolivia. Whether that’s because of his narcissism and desire for power or because he has debts to pay and there are people who have a lot of illicit money on the line, is hard to say. I will say that there is a lot of money flowing behind the scenes. While many people believe fervently in Evo, and what they think he stood for and are willing to demonstrate and fight for that belief, there are also many people who are being paid to stir up trouble and cause violence. The people at the blockades are being paid double the daily wage to be there and all of their meals are provided for them. Some believe in the reason they’re there, but many others are simply taking advantage of the situation.

I’m currently writing this sitting in the food court at the mall near my apartment. It’s 38 C and about twice that in the office at the house. Okay, maybe that last part is a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s still hot. As I look around me though, it’s doesn’t feel like anything is wrong. People are laughing and talking and eating and it seems like all is fine in the world.

I think we all agree, though, that things are going to get more difficult before they get better. In the end, it’s difficult to know what comes next. We hear reports of negotiations between the government and the different parties involved, but then nothing seems to happen. All I can say for now is to ask you to please keep praying for Bolivia. There’s a difficult road ahead.

I’ll keep you updated as things develop. Thanks everyone!

UPDATE: Well, since I wrote that a week ago, things have actually improved more than we expected. Our interim president was able to negotiate the removal of the blockades around the cities and the Senate unanimously voted for a new election to be held within the next ninety days. Most of the violence has dissipated since then. I think from now at least until the election is held, we should see peace in most of the country.

As always, thanks for praying!

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