Sunday, January 28, 2007

Back to Bolivia

Back to Bolivia, just a few weeks after street battles in Cochabamba killed two people. The division in the country is apparant: one the one side, the indigenous and working class, most of whom still support Morales, and on the other, the wealthy and middle classes, who accuse Morales of "racism" and indigenous extremism at their worst, or simply muddle along feeling like something is slipping from their hands. Which it probably is.

There is talk of civil war, mostly in the foreign press, but I don't see it. I do see Morales trying very hard to keep the country together, which surely ain't easy with these kind of divisions. He recently replaced seven ministers and the news headline said he was adopting a more "consensual" attitude, after being criticized for being too confrontative. But now he is being criticized for not moving the country forward fast enough.

I suppose it remains to be seen what will be the best for Bolivia in the long run--keeping the country together, or allowing it to break up into, if not distinct nations, more autonomous sections.

Despite the political tension, I am happy to be back in La Paz. I have always loved this city: the surreal rugged stony mountains rising up around the city, with snow-capped Illimani in the background, the streets alive with all kinds of people: tall skinny white people, darkskinned businessmen and women in suits, fashionably dressed Latinas, Aymaran women in their bowler hats, elegant shawls, and wide, beautifully pleated dresses, boys leaning out of careening busses, shouting out the names of destinations, marketplaces filled with vegetables, candies, pharmaceutical products,anything you need.

When I return to the States, it's always the noise and song of Latin America that I miss most..the vendors singing and shouting, the caw caw caw of tropical birds, the people huddled in front of newspaper stands, discussing the daily news.

And yes, I will be returning within the next several weeks, so I'm trying to get myself psyched up for it, back into the different, Northern rhythm.

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