Europe is already talking about the “failure of dialogue” in the Bolivian crisis

Pablo Stefanoni, April 19

With 15 days to go until the autonomy referendum, de facto organised by the province of Santa Cruz, no way out has been found to the political crisis that Bolivia is living, and uncertainty grows as D Day approaches. Observing discussions from chats in cafes to political reunions, the European Union is already talking about the failure of a negotiated way out. “We are worried by the lack of dialogue… but unfortunately this dialogue fails for various reasons and we can see that there is an increase in actions and yet we do not see a real confidence from the government and the political opposition” stated the ambassador of France and EU representative in Bolivia, Alain Bouquet.

Adding to these declarations of concern, are those of the Argentine ambassador in La Paz, Horacio Macedo, who together with representatives from Brazil and Colombia tried – without results – to establish a coming together of the government and the regionalist opposition. “In our country there are around 2 million Bolivian citizens and the impact that a violent conflict between Bolivians could have, in the case of Argentina, is an issue that logically concerns us”, manifested the diplomat in an interview with the La Paz daily La Prensa.

Leaving clear the success of the bunkering down by the business sectors in Santa Cruz, Morales yesterday had to pull out his vice minister for land, Alejandro Almaraz, from the Bolivian Chaco. Days before, the functionary tried without luck to enter the hacienda of the US citizen Ronald Larsen in order to verify compliance of his land in regards to its economic and social function, but was received with stones and armed picket lines, and had to take refuge in military quarters.

On Wednesday, the forum of private business owners transformed itself into a violent anti-government tribune. “After May 4, another economic model will begin to function”, warned the president of the Chamber of Exporters of the East, Ramiro Monje, in war footing against the government over the prohibition of exports of cooking oil and other basic products in order to force down internal prices.

Despite having made the measure more flexible, the Bolivian head of state threatened to nationalise companies that “are provoking a bosses lockout” by declaring a forced vacation. With all this, Morales called on the pro-government social movements to desist from going to Santa Cruz this May 4 “to impede the consultation”. Instead, he convoked rallies “for national unity” in each departmental capital.

The leader of the peasant confederation, Isaac Avalos, announced that his organisation would comply with the request of the president and would call for abstention. Nevertheless, the cocalero leader Julio Salazar insisted that Santa Cruz “will be closed down”, something which seems to be closer to rhetoric rather than reality. Only in a few rural areas of Santa Cruz could it be possible to see attempts to avoid the installation of voting tables.

Just in case, the cruceños have enlist their own “civil guard” and the departmental electoral court – that does not recognise the national court – recalled that voting was obligatory, threatening sanctions on those who did not go to the polling booths. No small threat in a country with those who do not vote can not even cash in a cheque at a bank.

Translated from Clarin

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