Thursday, May 22, 2008

Note to Simon Romero

It recently dawned on me that New York Times correspondent Simon Romero (pictured left) has now been to Bolivia, specifically Santa Cruz, on at least three or four occasions since late 2006 to cover the conservative opposition movement for regional autonomy against Evo Morales' new government. Yet in all that time and research, Simon has managed to miss one group of the most prominent supporters of Santa Cruz autonomy. This particular group only happens to be the most violent and widely discussed "grupo de choque" in Bolivia, claiming to have a membership of several thousand- but who's keeping track anyways? The mere mention of the Union Juvenil Crucenista has never appeared once in any his reporting. Maybe he doesn't believe they exist?

It is odd that Simon has never mentioned their existence, because he has likely already interviewed several members. Founded in 1957 by a fascist (literally), the Santa Cruz Youth Union, has long lasting ties to the city's elite business Civic Committee, come Comite Pro Santa Cruz- the leading organization of the autonomy movement. The Union acts as the militant, violent enforcement arm of the autonomy movement- staging protests, enforcing general strikes, and recently "providing security" for the illegal Santa Cruz autonomy referendum on May 4th- an ignored fact that might of had something to do with the violence witnessed on the day of the vote (reported by Simon) in the pro-MAS indigenous slum of Santa Cruz, Plan Tres Mil. They did physically assault the Catholic pastor Adalid Vega in San Ignacio on May 18th, outside of Santa Cruz city (a site of MAS support), after claiming he opposed the autonomy vote.

So in the spirit of good journalism, I have offered some visual pointers to assist Simon in identifying these characters- and maybe mention their presence for the consideration of the New York Times' distinguished and high readership, but not like Romero reads this blog anyways. So here goes:

They really exist.

They use easily identifiable symbols...

...and admire certain ideals.

They carry big, pointy sticks.

...and beat the shit out of people.

Bolivians have already figured it out, why can't Simon?

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