Sunday, October 30, 2005

Lazy blogger shows his nose again

Hello there, readers! As you can see these last two weeks consisted of intense, almost feverish blogging inactivity! I spent a lot of time writing other stuff so that I got tired of even writing emails or blog posts. Things are getting better now that I am using an RSS feeds reader. I will explain for the readers who don't know what is that. An RSS feeds reader is a program checks for you whether there are new posts in blogs you usually read. Thus, saving the time you spend in typing the address in your web browser. It may seem silly but you do indeed save time.

Blogs and press
Since Bolivia's last elections there is a large increase of non-mainstream information about Bolivia. From the moment I left Bolivia I was a regular reader of online editions of Bolivian newspapers. At that time, however, that was all I read. Currently I can say that my main source of information comes from Bolivian blogs. Many of their writers go deeply into the news, trying to find an insight that is so often lacking in newspapers.

Let me give you an example. Bolivia's general elections are supposed to be on the fourth of December. They are the result of negotiations with social sectors in Bolivia who were deeply dissatisfied with the way the country was being run. So you can see these elections as the primary prerequisite for stability. Unfortunately, there is the risk of the elections being delayed. All that as a result of the unsolvable question of how to distribute congress seats following the result of the 2001 census.

Now, while the newspapers give you the latest information about the happenings (who doesn't agree, who is threatening, etc). They don't provide enough discussion for an informed debate. I would like to see them discussing the arguments of each side. Instead of that, one gets the impression that people ought to form a supporting unit behind the main protagonists without discussing whether or not that is the right thing. From time to time, some informative editorial or opinion article appears, but it is often loaded with rhetoric.

Fortunately, you can turn to the Bolivian blogs for more information about the topic. They spend more time than the newspapers discussing about the issues involved. They also offer possible motivations of the actors to act the way they do.

More specifically, about this topic, you can turn to MABB's post and another from Ciao explaining the whole situation. In short, many Bolivians emigrated from Potosi, Oruro (where I am from), and La Paz to Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. This has been quantified in the 2001 census where I participated as a voluntary. Now, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba are demanding that the number of their representatives is increased. However, that implies that La Paz, Oruro and Potosi must reduce their representatives, something they are not willing to do. The argument to go on with this change is straightforward: it is in the constitution; it is written that the seats have to be redistributed as the population fluctuates. However, the negatively affected regions reply that these elections are not completely in line with the constitution (because of the way they were conceived during the crisis earlier in this year) so that it can be followed non-strictly. Also there is the issue that there is another article in the constitution stating that the redistribution must be done "con equidad". That is, you must somehow take into account the situation of economically depressed regions.

Well, the point of this hand-wavy explanation of the problem is that it is complex and it requires debate: why are some viewpoints are valid and why others are not. Simply put, you can enumerate: we abide by the law, the law is not perfect for us the poor regions so let's discuss it and we (the Oruro/Potosi/La Paz representatives) don't want to lose our seats/jobs so we make the most noise possible to keep them.

Maybe the newspapers are not the place where to repeat this debate over and over, they just supply news. However, even if it is not intended, I can't help but feel that this is an issue of Us versus Them when reading the newspaper articles . I suggest reading MABB, The democracy center, Barrio Flores and Ciao for informed discussion of Bolivian news.

I found another example of independent opinion in Eduardo's review of Bolivian blogs. It is a severe critic of the state university system in Bolivia. I am being quite mild at calling it severe, the post shows in all its horror how the state university is ruled by power struggles and corruption. It is the harshest critic I have read, a newspaper would not have published it. I am glad that well-written independent opinion about our universities is finding its way to the internet. It would be nice if some university worker could open an anonymous blog and show us all the things that happen within. Anyway, this topic deserves much more attention than it is given. Maybe in a future post.

It is a pity that the best blogs to read about Bolivian politics are in English. Maybe a political scientist out there in Bolivia is willing to fill in the gap.


Anonymous eduardo said...

Yeah, I wish that Oswaldo guy would start posting again. The first anti-Univ blog..

6:59 PM  
Blogger Alexey said...

I was holding my breath, this was the only university related post in his blog. Now that he has posted more on the subject it is true that it might be the anti-Univ blog.

2:38 AM  

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