Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Site counter change and more of Bolivia elections

Last week I noticed that the counter I used from "webstats4u" opened pop ups every now and then. They started to do that after "nedstats", the counter company, was bought by an advertising company, as stated in this post. I was very annoyed at this change so I decided to use the counter provided by statcounter, you can see their button on the left. To everybody who had a pop up when visiting this blog, my excuses: you don't have spyware, it was the counter. I believe it is fixed now.

I want to make some publicity for statcounter :). These guys have very cool options to analyze the traffic in your site. I might open the traffic reporting to all visitors when I find the time to not be lazy :). You might find it fun. For instance, it helped me discover that I appear among the first items in google when you search for "easy Bolivian food"!

Among other things that happened lately, I was corrected about the way I use the verb "to weigh". In fact, I didn't use it at all! I used "to weight", which is obviously wrong. I would like to thank that person ;). My English is far from perfect. If you happen to be a native speaker and you find a very obvious and silly mistake being repeated over and again please write me a short note. Thanks!

I would like you to read a post by Eduardo in Barrio Flores. He talks about the significance of "an indigenous Bolivian citizen" being "on the verge of capturing the Presidency of the Republic of Bolivia." Contrary to what some posters on his site assert, discrimination does happen in Bolivia. It is not purely racial, though. If you are indigenous (or have indigenous roots) but successful and/or rich, I think you can still be respected by others in Bolivian society. Even if you might still suffer from some form of discrimination. What I mean to say is that discrimination is not clear-cut. If your family name is Mamani or Choque, it does not mean that you are systematically condemned to lowly jobs. I have hardworking friends with such names in Bolivia who are doing quite well.

Still, the bad conditions for the majority of people in Bolivia remain. Many of them see Evo Morales as the way forward. After reading an article about the economic history of Bolivia, I am reminded of the chronic political instability. I should not expect any particular candidate to reverse that trend. Most likely this trend will continue.

Enough of rants. There are many hardworking people in Bolivia. Some of them, the scientific society of computer science students in my home university (UMSS), have organized a series of talks to motivate students. They have talks ranging from technical to life-experience sort of talks. One of them was an interview made to me by Rolando and Juan José from the linux group Pingüinos del Mismo Iceberg in Cochabamba. It is very encouraging to see students like them with ideas and motivation. Keep it going, guys!

Update: Above I forgot to refer to the post that explains the situation with the counter company. Here it is.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Will Bolivia elect elections?

In a previous post I explained the problems that Bolivia is going through to have a general election in December. Last week the Bolivian blogosphere thought that this problems were solved. Given the inability of the region representatives to reach an agreement, the current president, Eduardo Rodriguez Veltze, issued a decree stating the new distribution of congress seats among the regions. Oruro and Potosi lose each one seat, La Paz loses two while you have Cochabamba winning one and Santa Cruz winning three.

All that was left was for the congress to approve the decree. However, it was not clear whether the congress would approve the presidential decree, so it was decided to postpone the sessions to this week. By then it was already known that the representatives of Santa Cruz were not going to participate in the session. While they wouldn't block this decree, they would save their faces by showing their disapproval somehow. Alas, the positions have radicalized again from last week. Now Oruro is not participating in the session, the Potosi representatives might vote it down and some La Paz deputies are considering filing a unconstitutionality demand against the elections.

Last week, I was waiting for this process to unfold before posting. I was sure that this decree would pass and all the circus these days was a way for the congressmen to avoid any kind of association with the decree. For months the congress avoided hard choices and procrastinated. I thought that the goal of the congressmen was having the president saving the day so that they can go away with clean hands. That is, they cannot be accused of working against their regions. Now there is the danger of further disagreement and delay.

In that last post I also pointed to an anti-university manifesto. Now Oswaldo has posted a follow up to it. He moderates a little bit one of his proposals (close the university altogether). He also answers to one comment criticizing him of just voicing ideas. He allegedly organized an assembly from which a letter came out to the university authorities. He goes on to criticize the university's love of money.

Last time I was pondering his extreme positions in my head. Closing the university is too much, but change has to be done by external factors it seems. As is currently, an academic has little choice but to play with the system. Although most authorities are elected, authoritarianism is a big component of university organizations. The academic (and staff) must strictly observe the hierarchical structure.

Pressure for improvement from the government has to weaken the sacred "autonomía universitaria", which means a hard struggle against the university. The electoral offers would have to include university reform so that this process has legitimacy in the face of the "autonomí­a universitaria" argument. Maybe in the next elections.