Monday, June 23, 2008

Tarija Votes: Misrepresentation, Omissions, and Baloney

(Center: Mario Cossio , Tarija Prefect, with Leftt: Ruben Costas, Santa Cruz Prefect, and Right: Branko Marinkovic, head of Comite Pro Santa Cruz)

Western press coverage AFP, AP, and Reuters of the fourth and final illegal autonomy vote in Tarija, Bolivia yesterday followed the same pattern of disingenuous coverage in Santa Cruz, Beni, and Pando. To their credit almost all coverage put the issue of natural gas revenue central, but let's continue.

The press continued with the thin claim that it is only Evo's view that the referendums are illegal and separatist. They don't mention that it was the National Electorial Court (CNE), the superior court on the matter, which ruled the referendums unconstitutional, while it is Evo's opinion that the statutes are separatist.

The referendum apparently passed with about 80 percent approval and 30 percent absentia. Isn't it funny how the results in Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, and Tarija were all almost exactly the same? They were not in the autonomy consulting referendum in 2005. Maybe it has something to do with the source of the results which happens to be exclusively the Bolivian corporate press, which AP and AFP did a good job of admitting. However they didn't mention the implication, that these elections were conducted without the presence of any reputed observers, national or international authorities. So basically, there is no reason not to seriously consider accusations of fraud by Tarija's campesino unions (ABI). These groups called for boycotting the referendum and set up two roadblocks on the day of the vote.

Almost everyone quoted Tarija's Prefect, Mario Cossio (left, photo-AP) to present the implications, "Tarija is consolidating its autonomy, which will be the tool to construct well-being for our community and for a great Bolivia," Cossio said (AP), and from the head of the Departmental Electoral Court (CDE) Miguel Angel Guzman to characterize the vote, he "said voting went smoothly, except at four polling places" (AFP).

What they did not tell you about these guys. Prior to the vote, Cossio threatened to dismiss local employees of the departmental government who abstained, and the CDE similarly threatened to expunge from official voter rolls those who abstained (ABI). These threats motivated Tarija's Independent Association of Professionals to threaten legal action against Cossio and Guzman (Tarija Libre/ABI). Additionally, Cossio's uncle may have formed his own fascist hit squad, the "Youth with Vision of Change" (Jóvenes con Visión de Cambio) (Al Minuto), accused of working with members of the Union Juvenil Crucenista (Tarija Libre/ABI) on the day of and previous to the vote to intimidate opponents, assaulting a taxi driver (ABI) and the son of the head of Tarija's campesino union CSCB (ABI).

Concluding the vote, Cossio made a speech claiming he will not let the national government lower Tarija's share of natural gas revenue to below fifteen percent (ABI). This certainly inspired AP to make this weird speculation about eastern autonomy: "The states have yet to test their self-declared freedoms by withholding gas revenues from Morales' government." Of course it ignores the basic fact that gas exploitation revenues are first collected and held by the national government (remember that gas nationalization thing two years ago?) and then allocated to departments and municipalities. The "autonomous" departments have nothing to withhold. Evo Morales' government does and has stated that they will withhold revenue if Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, and Tarija proceed with their illegal autonomy statutes and form local autonomous governments- you know, create extra-constitutional government agencies.

On that point, the national public prosecutor has accepted looking into legal charges against Santa Cruz Prefect Costas and Santa Cruz CDE president Mario Orlando Parada for conducting the illegal May 4th referendum (ABI). Also Morales' government says it will conduct a financial audit of the Santa Cruz referendum to figure out who exactly payed for it and if any laws were broken in the process, my guess is yes. Although I doubt anything will come of these maneuvers.

But this last omission takes the cake. Last week, prior to Tarija's referendum, the municipality of Yacuiba (where that bomb went off Saturday) independently held its own elections, June 15th for a Subprefect without sanction of Tarija's CDE. Tarija's CDE and Prefect Cassio characterized the election, without statutory basis, as illegal (La Prensa). You mean like when Tarija ignored that superior CNE ruling and pushed ahead with its autonomy referendum anyways? Oh, the hypocrisy is so rich it's making me hungry. Morales' government remained non-hypocritical by agreeing with Tarija that the Subprefect election had no legal basis (Erbol/Al Munito).

Isn't it all grand?


Bina said...

One thing I don't expect any of the lamestream media sources to say about all this is how empty these "autonomy" votes are. The governments of neighboring countries receiving natural gas from Bolivia won't be doing business with any "autonomous" provincial flunkie. They do it with Evo and the feds. As you say, the industry is nationalized. So are the pipelines. The Media Luna is SOL. Funny how the lamestreamers won't report that, though.

The Neither Party said...

bina et al,,,
Not just the lamestreamers, but some alt sites, too. Check out this blog from some guy who fancies himself a saint, yet writes like an a**hole from hell:
of-tarija-makes.html (string them together)
And you thought the big guys were one-sided!!!
What a pile of unfounded steaming one-sided crappola!

El Duderino said...

That blogger strikes me as just another neocon wanker. Quite a few of them blog. Anyone who references El Deber (Santa Cruz's yellow rag) as a source of valid reporting is either utterly ignorant or a douchebag. He also links to Boli-Nica's blog, who seriously qualifies as a deranged and delusional fascist apologist, who has the decency of trolling Jim Schultz's Democracy Ctr. blog calling Evo a "nazi"- no joke.

El Duderino said...

In my comment I confused Boli-Nica with Bolivia Libre. Sorry, Boli-Nica is not outwardly deranged, bat-shit crazy like Bolivia Libre- but stjacques links to him as well.

Bina said...

No kidding, Boli-Nica is Boli-Nutzo. And a Boli-Nazi.

BTW, did you see the latest National Geographic? Evo's in it. And he got pretty positive, evenhanded coverage, too!