Monday, August 11, 2008

Manfred’s new agenda, Vote Constitutional maybe, “fraud” is the new tact

(Cochabamba & New York) Governor Manfred Reyes Villa of the department of Cochabamba may have lost more than just this election. In an interview with Karah Woodward of Digital Warrior Media & WBAI-FM of New York, Reyes Villa said he would pursue actions to discredit international observers & claim the vote of Sunday the 10th of August was terribly “fraudulent”.

While observing the election taking place in Cochabamba, Ms. Woodward sought also to find reactions away from a stronghold of Morales in La Paz, in a province headed up by such a vociferous opponent. The people spoke freely off camera, but on camera they were slightly more self-edited in their words. The talk of the town was of political feelings running high & Sunday was seemingly a day to evacuate the past months of political tensions through the simple yet basic act of voting.

Despite local press reports that Morales supporters were aiming to take over the prefecture's office last night, Cochabamba's Plaza 14 de Septiembre was peaceful.

Governor Reyes Villa left his office before mid-morning and throughout the day, groups of Cochabambinos met around the plaza in spirited debate, expressing their opinons and discussing the larger issues facing the country.

And the military police built a cordon with their shields, blocking the entrance to the prefect's building after a slight confrontation in the foyer.

The vote has exposed Manfred (as he is called in this tropical Amazonian urban enclave) more so because the other regional Governor displaced by the vote has agreed to abide by it. The results were then reinforced by those Governors reaffirmed in the vote who are opposed to the central government’s reforms & pushed for autonomy.

As solitary as the Governor of Cochabamba is politically, the media in the United States sees greater potential conflict with Reyes Villa’s resistance to the vote of the people of his province.

The reporting by the Wall Street Journal sees it as:

  • There are other potential flashpoints for conflict in the wake of the vote. The governor of Cochabamba, the scene of fierce street battles last year, was voted out of office in the referendum. Yet, he has vowed not to step down since he views the vote as unconstitutional. Observers are bracing for more clashes when the Morales government seeks to replace him.

Simon Romero, of the New York Times writes

  • Signaling how the referendum may reignite tensions, the governor of Cochabamba, Manfred Reyes, said the referendum itself was unconstitutional. “I go on being prefect of Cochabamba,” said Mr. Reyes on Sunday night.”

The Governor seemed to change that tactic as his comments were more to address the mechanics of the process more then the actual legality of it. The sourcing @ WSJ & NYT may be outdated, if not incorrect information, still most western media outlets are seemingly projecting a conflict without the full facts. His power base is shrinking by the minute, and he still has a difficult time finding successful allies left over from the infamous School of the Americas.

Manfred Reyes Villa may wish for major media to correct themselves, and likely western media may well placate him in his pursuit of maintaining a viable political life. This from a man who was a conservative three-time presidential candidate & has a political career that is at best difficult when denouncing the system that brought him to power.

Should Manfred Reyes Villa assert himself, he may very well be doing it by himself with few options and even fewer supporters willing to challenge Morales’ mandate. A better motivation could be that all sides would wish to escape further turmoil than waste Bolivia’s most valuable resource, the beautiful people of the Bolivian Diaspora.

In Cochabamba, during the election the voting was orderly, the political discussion was adept, and Bolivia again showed the world an outstanding example of democracy.



Karah Woodward From Cochabamba & La Paz Bolivia,

Troy O'Dend'Hal From New York City.

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