Daily Archives: June 4, 2011

Bolivian updates

1. Iran’s Defense Minister visit to Bolivia is still in the news and controversy. The visit of this individual, wanted by Interpol for terrorism attack in Argentina, was known and published the day before in an Argentinian newspaper, denouncing all Ahmad Vahidi’s violent behavior. As such, it is unbelievable the sorry remarks by government officials saying they didn’t know about Vahidi’s crimes. Despite the strong reaction of the Argentinian government, today two different news appear in local newspapers; there was a scheduled visit of this president to Argentina, around mid June. Well, La Prensa and Pagina Siete report that meeting was cancelled due to Argentinian pressure. While Los Tiempos quotes government officials confirm such visit. Time will tell, what is true however, is the embarrassment that we as citizens of this country have to endure due to this government actions. However, it is a little piece of good news to hear Argentinian Congressmen who were visiting, that said Argentina will support Bolivia in the next OAS meeting, regarding our claim for a sea-coast to Chile. Many analysts had opposite views on the latter.

2. Environmental damage is inevitably going to happen in the TIPNIS (Isiboro Secure) protected reserve. The president proudly inaugurated yesterday the beginning of the road construction that will allow coca growers to enter this region. Bolivia has no good track record protecting its forest and wildlife. To date, not only the parks and reserves are free of illegal settlers who engage in mad deforestation, and plant crops that are not-self sustained over the medium run. Let alone narcotrafficking and coca growing fields. Back in the 80’s I glanced from a distance the border of the TIPNIS, looking from the site where the Chipiriri Experimental Station was located, I heard arguments back and forth about such a road being built, reason at the time was to protect those indigenous communities on their way of life and protecting wildlife. Yesterday was a black day for the environment.

3. Road blockade by the Valle del Sajta region was solved to a great loss by the Cochabamba University (UMSS), who had to agree on most of the terms pressed by local cocalero and farmers groups. The University will have to provide, lodging facilities for both students and faculty, build classrooms and other infrastructure. I visited that facility in early 90’s when Tilapia was being tested along other products to provide alternative sources of income for the cocalero growers. At the time when the road between Cochabamba and Santa Cruz was in its best condition, this facility seemed like a great temptation for future settlers. I just hope that those illegal settlers now leave that land. If they remain, we will just see that the “claims” to the university were just an excuse to take this land away from the UMSS. All of the above happening without mentioning the thousands of dollars lost to the blockade, harming legal businesses while transporting delicate produce. Who pays for that? not even most of the insurance policies cover that in Bolivia.