Tuesday, December 8, 2009

EVo wins election by 62.5%

Evo Morales and the MAS have scored another major blow to the right wing opposition in Bolivia this Sunday, by winning the countries Presidential elections with 63% of the vote nationally. This secures Evo and the MAS another term in power, making him the most popular president in the history of Bolivia. Even if the opposition united they would only have 34% of the vote nationally. His closest rival, Manfred Ryes Villa obtained only 28% of the vote nationally and
the next closest opponent, Samuel Doria Medina obtained only 6%.
Although his victory did not come as a surprise to many in Bolivia, the depth of his victory nationally is very impressive. Evo and the MAS managed to win a two third majority in the bicamral Plurinational Legislative Assembly of Bolivia that will take power in January 2010. In addition the MAS won a majority in the senate with 25 senate seats allowing the MAS to accelerate their reforms. The MAS won 5 of the 7 seats designated for Indigenous and campesinos. These seats were created by the new constitution and are specially set aside for the Indigenous people in the Legislative Assembly, who have traditionally been marginalized from the political process.
For the first time Bolivians living abroad in Brazil, Argentina, U.S and Spain were allowed to vote in the elections. Here again we saw a majority support for Evo with a combined 69% of Bolivians abroad voting in favour of the MAS.
In Santa Cruz, the heart of Evo opposition, the MAS managed to win 43% of the vote while his main rival, Manfred Ryes Ville won 50% of the vote. Interesting enough, even in the eastern lowlands, the MAS has gained support for their radical changes. The MAS won a majority in 6 of the 9 provinces, including and most surprising in Tarija, which was previously one of the seats of opposition.

Another major victory for Evo and the MAS is that all 12 indigenous communities voting for autonomy, voted overwhelmingly voted yes.
From the Presidential palace, Evo was clear that this victory was not only a victory for Bolivians but also a victory for Presidents, governments and communities that are anti imperialists. In addition he made a call of unity to those in opposition to join him in the process of change.
We stood in the rain surrounded by MAS supporters celebrating their victory. One of the many students celebrating turned to us and explained why he had gone from being a member of the right wing, Juventude Cruzenista to being a MAS supporter.
I used to be a member of the jueventude cruzenista but after all the violence and destruction of the public institutions, I realized we were being used by the local authorities. Today myself and many of the youth that are here tonight support Evo Morales and the MAS.
It is clear that the future of Santa Cruz will no longer be determined by a small minority. Across the horizon we see that the process of decolonization has grown stronger across the country. Beyond the borders of Bolivia, this movement of social transformation continues to inspire the world.

Santa Cruz, Bolivia - Raul Burbano and Sara Koro

Monday, December 7, 2009

Over 1,000,000 MAS supporters in El Alto

The closing of the MAS campaign was one of the most excillorating and inspirational moments of our project. The night was a carnival atmosphere as a mass of blue, black and white colours (the colours of the MAS party) slowly crept up to El Alto, where over 1 million supporters and President Evo Morales, Vice president, Alvaro Linera swayed to the traditional rhythms of Andean and afro beats.

Thanks in part to our international observor credentionals we managed to make our way to the front of the stage where people were proudly waving flags and celebrating the process of decolonization that has been taking place across Bolivia. When we looked back into the crowds of hundreds of thousands of Evo supporters we could see and feel the spirit of Tupac Katari and Bartolina Sisa . The Malkus dressed in their traditional brightly coloured red ponchos held the masses back as the fireworks exploted up above them.

Bolivia is a pluri-national state and as such, we wanted to see how the current social movement was unfolding in a more conservative part of the country. Friday morning we boarded a plane for Santa Cruz, the heart of the opposition. Upon arrival we were greeted with signs of Western influence. A carefully decorated Christmas tree and nativity scene were set at the airport exit. Adds for Subway and Burger King were lined across the airport in bright lights that were impossible to ignore.

We made our way to the city center of Santa Cruz where people were enjoying an afternoon in the sun. The atmosphere in the main plaza, 24 de septembre was completely different from what we had left in La Paz. On the surface things appeared tranquil, yet a feeling of unease permeated the air. The majority of people we approached were reluctant to discuss politics. Many of those who did engage in conversations spoke of their frustration with the current government, arguing that Evo Morales cares only for those of Indigenous decent.

As Santa Cruz is a conservative city we were surprised to see pro Evo’s signs and grafitti. cross town in fact, many people who were planning to vote for the opposition said that Evo had made some positive changes. Particular references included the bonuses, like Juncito Pinto and others that are given for the cost of caring for children.

Traveling from the center of the city to its outskirts there is a rapid change. Red and yellow opposition flags become less numerous and poverty abounds. In the market of Plan Tres Mil, a poor community outside of Santa Cruz, we had the opportunity to speak with many people of Indigenous decent. At first people were nervous to interact with us. It was immediately clear that a culture of fear was deeply embedded. After taking time to develop a deeper rapor with some of the vendors we were introduced to the President of the market. He felt that Evo’s plan for improved roads and infrastructure twas what they needed and wanted, however , he went on to explained that the local municipalities run by the opposition were robbing the Plan Tres Mil of the opportunity to implement real change. For example, several new schools have been built, yet for lack of funding they do not have roofs nor flooring.

It is the night before elections and yet walking around the city it is difficult to tell the difference from any other Saturday night. Wealthy youth and families sit on patios and smile for photos while Indigenous people sit on sidewalks, invisible to the eyes of the “cambas”. Unfortunately a culture of discrimination, racism and apathy abound in Santa Cruz.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Day 5_Evo receives honorary doctorate

Tuesday December 1st

As the sun rose over La Paz we wound our way up the city of El Alto in a small colectivo joined by Paceños (people from La Paz) starting their morning commute to work. El Alto is located on the Altiplano highlands at the top of a canyon. With a population of over 649,000 people its one of the fast growing city in La Paz and one of the highest cities in the world. The majority of those who live there are Aymara. Its very poor with many houses hanging off the sides of cliffs but at the same time its a picturesque city with its vibrant culture and sprawling development. The city is fiercely loyal to Evo and the MAS candidates as can be seen by all the graffiti on the walls.

It was no wonder that when we arrived at La Universidad Publica de el Alto (UPEA) in anticipation of President Evo Morales speech, you could see and feel the excitement of local residents and UPEA students. Fire works were exploting all round us and people were chanting, Evo no se cansa, Bolivia advanca (Evo does not get tired while Bolivia advances). Needless to say when Evo arrived the whole place erupted into a mass furry as students and local residents tried to get a glimpse of their president.

Evo dressed in his non traditional business clothing spoke of the need for the University to develop expertise and experts in technology and sciences. Specifically, in the areas of Lithium and Iron, so that Bolivia does not rely on the expertise of foreigners. Furthermore, to develop local professionals with a local conscience so that they serve Bolivia and not just leave to work for multinationals.

The event closed with music and dancing as local community leaders lite fires and held local traditional ceremonies.

We then made our way to a small barrio in La Paz where we met with local youth who use Hip Hop beats and rap as a form of social expression. Israel Houtado, one of the rappers and obvious leaders explained to us they don't rap for fame or money but rather rap because it allows them to express what they see and feel. All of the rappers are from poor barrios in La Paz and are either Aymara or Quechua. Their experiences have been plagued by poverty and discrimination. They blame the system and past governments for this. They feel that with Evo Morales as President things are getting better for them and everyone around them.

As the sun started to set and the formalities long gone Israel said candidly, Socialism is the only form for us as Capitalism with be the death of us. As we walked down back the barrio lined with dilapidated houses, there were public expressions of drunkness by some men on the street. Despite this, it was obvious that these youth were proud of their roots and their culture.

Raul Burbano and Sara Korosi

Sunday, November 29, 2009

El Movimento sin miedo

In the Municipality of La Paz, El Movimento sin miedo held their national closing march in support of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) and Autonomia departamental. The march was organized into three groups, one from each of the 3 voting sectors that attracted over 15,000 supporters. People began marching in the upper regions of La Paz where buildings literally cling to the sides of cliffs. Four hours later the march came to a festive end in the upper class district of la Zona Sur; located in the heart of a cannon surrounded by an eroded hillside of pinnacles and Illumani mountain. There Vice President, Álvaro García Linera, gave a moving speech to the cheering masses where he said, Evo represents the dignity of Bolivia.

The march was made of people of all ages, including families, business sector and youth. It represented the various sectors of Bolivian society that are the backbone of the MAS, including the middle class. We had the opportunity to interview the candidate for diputado, Fabian Jaksic who explained to us why the middle to upper class support the MAS. He said, we are generating development, look at the Zona Sur , that is an expanding zone , generating development.

He went further to explain what the coup d’état in Honduras means to Bolivia and the region, it’s an international shame... the elections that they are having are a mockery and have done substantial damage to Latin America democracies.

Sara Korosi and Raul Burbano

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Media Release

Bolivia – Presidential and Indigenous vote for autonomy

Toronto Bolivian Solidarity

For Immediate Release: November 28th, 2009

Attention: News Editor/News Desk


Ilian Burbano

416 929 1834

La Paz, Bolivia

Raul Burbano

735 96680

blogspot; http://autonomiaporpueblobolivia.blogspot.com
In 2005, Evo Morales was elected as the first Indigenous President of Bolivia. As mandated by the people, he promised to alter the traditional political class and to empower the nation’s poor, mainly the indigenous majority. Through the election of a national constituent assembly, the people of Bolivia set about rewriting the country’s constitution. In January of 2009, Bolivians held a national referendum and passed a new constitution which refounded the nation. This resulted in the creation of a plurinational state, recognizing the autonomy of its diverse population. One of the key components of the new constitution was a vote for indigenous autonomy.

On December 6 of 2009 Bolivians will head to the polls to elect a President. In conjunction, Afro and Indigenous communities will vote for their own autonomy. Activists from Toronto Bolivian Solidarity are in Bolivia for these historical events. The activists will document the Presidential elections and travel to communities partaking in the vote for autonomy.
These profound events will be captured in a video. If you would like further information on the events taking place in Bolivia please contact us.