Bolivia – Week in Review

A bomb rocks the Ministry of Defense in La Paz. Fortunately, the explosion took place at night and no one was injured. This was the latest explosion by dynamite in the last ten days. Other targets included a military installation and the television channel P.A.T., which current President Carlos Mesa was one of the founding members. These explosions, in which a former ministry official in the Banzer/Quiroga adminstration was arrested for his participation, coupled with rumors of another coup involving the U.S. Embassy have brought added tension to the political landscape.

Gas is discovered in the Department of Potosi, which is a blessing and curse at the same time. Whether or not this gas will be industralized or exported may be a moot point. Officials say that this gas is already owned by Zapata Corporation, which is a multinational corporation where former President George H.W. Bush owns a large holding. Ministry of Hydrocarbons officials say that the detail is untrue. This could make the issue even more polarizing.

Mexican President Vicente Fox will swing by after a trip to Peru. These bilateral and regional talks will mostly center on the hydrocarbon export issue.

A “Guerra del Agua” Part II may be brewing in El Alto. The privatized water service, Aguas del Illimani, has been the target of an association of Neighborhood groups (FEJUVE), which says that the company has not been completing its duties. The private company employs 400 Bolivians and has already invested $63 million dollars in the city. The Superintendent of Basic Sanitation says that Aguas del Illimani has met all of its measurable goals, but there will be an evaluation to review the Neighborhood Groups’ complaints. FEJUVE has announced a possible strike for this coming week.

On a brighter note, Bolivar took home an important point from Quito in la Ida(first leg) of the Copa Sudamericana semifinals. Down 0-1, Argentine forward Horacio Chiorazzo struck a perfect ball that beat the Liga Deportiva – Quito goalkeeper giving la Academia an excellent opportunity to win this Thursday night. The winner gets a chance to play the Boca Juniors (Arg) – Internacional (Bra) winner.

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