In the jungle Chaco region of Bolivia’s Tarija Province, more than 100 cases of illness resembling dengue fever have been reported in recent weeks. It’s particularly troubling, because “dengue season” usually doesn’t start until January when the region gets more rain. Dengue is a blood disease spread by mosquitoes. Travleers visiting southern Bolivia, especially Tarija province, should sleep with mosquito netting and use insect repellant.
On Tuesday, Bolivia’s Congress approved a new constitution, which will be voted on by the people of Bolivia in January. Thousands of indigenous peasants had marched on the capital and were demonstrating in the streets when they heard the good news. The approval is seen as a victory for President Evo Morales, who has staked his political career on the new constitution. It still rmeains to be seen if rebellious lowland eastern provinces will obey the new constitution if and when it is approved.
Bolivia’s President Evo Morales met yesterday with provincial governors, ministers, the leaders of Bolivia’s Congress and Senate and even a Cardinal of the Catholic Church. The purpose of the meeting was to try and defuse the growing conflict between Morales’ administration and breakaway eastern provinces who oppose his plans to redistribute wealth and land. Under the plan, wealthy eastern provinces would relinquish oil and natural gas profits and fallow land. The money and land would be given to the poorest Bolivians, most of whom are indigenous and concentrated in the western highlands. The situation had escalated recently, as supporters of both sides fought in the streets, resulting in a number of deaths. The meeting shows that both sides want to avoid further bloodshed and hope to end the crisis, but they are still a long way from a compromise that will be acceptable to all parties.
Conalcam (La Coordinadora Nacional para el Cambio), a Bolivian political institution in league with president Evo Morales, has announced that beginning on Monday, September 15, it will block all roads into and out of Santa Cruz province. Last Year, Morales announced that revenues from oil in the Santa Cruz would be divided among the rest of the country and large farms would be broken up and land given away to poor farmers. Santa Cruz has led the fight against Morales, voting recently for a form of autonomy in which it would keep its revenues and farms. Conalcam, which cites the “unpatriotic” attitude of Santa Cruz, is calling on poor farmers in neighboring states to enforce the blockade. The date was selected to prevent attendance at Expocruz 2008, the department’s annual business convention. Travelers to the convention and Santa Cruz province are encouraged to get the latest information before traveling, especially as the situation is escalating and the scene at the borders may get ugly.