11 August 2008

Interesting Thing I Found

First of all, sorry I haven't updated. I've moved, had bad internet connections, and are now trying to sell a condo (in this market - bleh), so I've been quite a bit busy.

Anyway, I recently found out from one of my uncles that I am related to Walter Guevara. Why is this funny? Well, I believe I've mentioned before I'm also related to Victor Paz. If you don't see the problem with this you should read their respective Wikipedia articles, which I've linked to their names.

To sum it up, they both founded the MNR. Unfortunately, they both also had different views on which way the party should lean. Guevara was more conservative than his cofounders, so he left to form his own party, the PRA. He even ran against Paz in the 1960 election. After the dictatorship of Hugo Banzer, however, Guevara rejoined the party. Paz and Guevara were even running mates one election year.

My father used to talk about how his mother was estranged from her family for quite awhile. He was born in 1939, a few years before all this political mess came about, so the families were probably quite friendly with one another during this time. When they came to the disagreement, however, I could see how that would have been a problem. Paz was my great uncle on my grandfather's side, and Guevara was somehow related to my grandmother's side, so anywhere where the two connection would have been a bit strained at that point.

This makes me wish I were a few years older so I could have found this out when I had the maturity to appreciate their company. I may have met Victor Paz, but I would have been very young at that point and would not have seen the connection between him and the presidency. Funny how these things work out the way they do.

05 May 2008

Bolivian Death Road

Here's another video from Telegraph.co.uk, this time on the "death road," also known as the North Yungas Road, from La Paz to Coroico.

I am annoyed a bit by the Telegraph's bias. I know they're a British newspaper, and I've heard from my friends from the UK that their newspapers are so biased and error-ridden that people trust the news on TV more, but still. They have broken ground on a bypass for the road, it's just so expensive trying to build on such steep mountains. Okay, I'll admit, Bolivia does have some money and political problems, but they don't need to make it sound as if the country's so broke, they sit around and get violent on their dirt roads. Bah.

One thing that makes this road so scary is that smaller vehicles have to yield to the bigger ones by standing near the edge. Yep, all those bikers have to stand by the edge of the road to let the bigger vehicles pass. It's only built to fit one car, though it does give some shoulder space at some intervals. Needless to say, it really isn't used by the locals too often. I don't think I'll bike down it anytime soon, thanks.

By the way, all the rural roads that hug the mountains in Bolivia are scary. I remember being about eight years old on a tour bus to see some Incan ruins. The damned bus would sometimes have to drive on the edge of the road to be able to fit by a passing car. That road was paved, with a dividing line, too! I can't imagine how scary it'd be on the death road. It was almost beat by that one time we were driving on a similar road and I was sitting on my cousin's lap in the front seat. We couldn't fit the seatbelt around both of us, so we had to ride that sans seatbelt. My cousin also got carsick during the trip, joy!

You get some beautiful views on those roads, however. Nothing beats looking out your window - as long as you don't look down - and seeing green mountainsides hugged by white mist. Gorgeous; remind me to post pictures sometime. I have one where it has a rope bridge spanning maybe 500 feet of space, and the bridge was partially obscured by the mist. Everyone must visit.

Correction: according to Wikipedia, the bypass route was completed in 2006. Just goes to show how research is useful.

Vote on Autonomy

Here's a video about the violence stemming from the vote for autonomy in Bolivia:

Basically, this is about state autonomy. If this is approved, Santa Cruz would have more autonomy over what happens in their region, thus giving Evo Morales less power.

The Democracy Center describes this better than I can.

25 April 2008

Why I'm doing this

I should mention why I, an American citizen born and raised, who's only visited Bolivia twice, has family in the country and would care enough about the political and cultural situation over there.

My dad moved to the US in the mid 70's. I'm sure all of you know about what happened then. If not, read the Wikipedia on that point in history. My family down there has been entrenched in politics for years, and one of my relatives is even Victor Paz-Estenssoro (link is to Wikipedia, even though they never put that hyphen in when they should), four-time president of Bolivia and co-founder of the MNR party. My family thought themselves to be safe until one of my dad's brothers got shot and killed. At first, my dad tried the UK and South Africa, but finally settled on the US. He really did settle, though; he never liked the US, even after living here for years, and never became a US citizen because they would have forced him to give up his Bolivian citizenship.

My dad was very "Europeanized". He stood by the assumption that there is no Incan blood in the Bolivian upper classes, something that I would have hoped would be beyond discussion at this point. Because of that, I got very little exposure to the native culture, with him even getting annoyed when my mom would want to wear a Llama-wool shawl out in public. If it weren't for the fact that my mom loved the music and one of my uncle's collected Incan art, I probably wouldn't have had any exposure at all.

So that's basically my background. I intend on spending more time in the country, hopefully when this whole Morales business blows over a bit. Until then, I have my true love, the web, to tell me all about it.

06 April 2008

I'm sorry...

I'm sorry I haven't updated in so long. Real life has not only decided to interrupt, it hit me on the head with a long, metal pipe.

It seems my family in Bolivia is having some trouble because of Evo Morales. I love the president, I do, and I love the changes he's bringing to the country, but it's also hurting the middle and upper classes. What he doesn't seem to realize is that there are more than poor people in his country. Sure they need help, and the country needs a pr boost as well, but he's alienating a good portion of his country.

One of my cousins, his stepfather is in the oil business and worked with foreign oil companies until Morales ran them out. Now, without a job, the whole family's livelihood is being threatened. Apparently they're trying to move to the US, but no such luck.

Another cousin of mine, a doctor no less, is trying to move to Canada. They're visa applications were all accepted -- except that she had another kid while they were being processed. Now the country won't accept their applications anymore.

It's all so insane and I hope it's worked out for the better.

13 February 2008

News: Flooding in Bolivia

Usually, the rainy season tends to leave the residents of Bolivia a little soaked this time of year. Unfortunately, they are a little more than soaked at the moment, with more than 60 reported dead.

Flooding from heavier than normal rains have caused this landlocked country in South America to call a state of emergency. Scientists say that climate change from global warming is to blame for such flooding.

The provincial capital of Trinidad, a Amazonian city of 90,000, is being threatened by the rising flood waters.

Many countries as well as the United Nations have stepped in to provide disaster relief.

"Bolivia floods misery continues." http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7243970.stm


I do intend on updating this site. My life has been hectic at the moment, yet I hope to continue with at least weekly updates from this point on.