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Jun 14 / Jon

Yes to Autonomy! No to Cliques!

Translated by Natalia Moreno.

When looking for an article to translate, I picked an opinion article that would take a stance on the polemic issue of autonomy in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. There are two points to be made: 1) I understand the issue 2) I have my own biases and opinions about the issue. Thus, I picked an article written by an opinion writer outside my network to limit the opportunities of transposing my own opinions to those of the writer.

Source text: “Autonomías sí, logias no”.

“Yes to Autonomy! No to Cliques!”
By Omar Quiroga Antelo

Translator’s Note: In Bolivia, political tension has increased over the past seven years. Ever since Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada was forced out of presidency, the political landscape has changed significantly. For the first time in history, Bolivia has an indigenous president, Evo Morales. Evo’s presidency is a source of great debate.

Santa Cruz, a province on the eastern side of the country far removed from the capital, wantsautonomy. As there are significant cultural, economic, geographic, and political differences between the two sides of the country, many of their arguments are justified.

Still, there are a lot of mixed fillings within Santa Cruz. Given the divide between rich and poor in the region, tensions arise between the leaders of the region representing the different sub-groups. In the following passage, Omar Quiroga Antelo expresses his dislike for the wealthy, upper class of the region. He disapproves of their actions and opinions and says to represent the poor.

I’m compelled to write this article given the recent developments in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. A small group of individuals that is said to “represent” Santa Cruz has proposed dividing our beloved nation. Having the muscle to control all mass media, the group makes waves in taking a stance and voicing an opinion. Despite only representing a select few, their intentions are to speak for all of us cruceños and cruceñas. Indeed, they have characteristics not inherent of the “camba de verdad.”

a) Elite Cliques: The power groups’ main objective is to add additional dollars to their accounts and distribute them amongst their close relatives. In protecting the region and promoting autonomy, they are indeed protecting their own interests. Don’t get me wrong, I support autonomy but not their pursuit for autonomy.

As a province, we’ve budgeted 100 million dollars to city hall, 140 million to the municipality, 15 million to Saguapac, 30 million to CRE amongst others. These budgets are intended for development, fundraising, savings, and others investments, but are usually misspent.

Who manages these funds? Not the poor. It is the rich families that seek control over all levels of these major institutions.

Funny enough, Marinkovic, Teodovich, Matkovic, Dadboub, etc. are foreign last names of counties destroyed by wars between these related cliques. These people did not get along with each other and now expect to break up our country and for us to fight amongst Bolivians.

b) Carnaval-like: Where were these cruceños when Johnny and Roberto made our city an open market? Where were they when these brothers practically robed us pocketing all our earnings to orchestrate their “star” projects? Where were they when Johnny would come to our neighborhoods prior to elections and hand down 20 to 50 bolivianos to visit his electoral podium while the camaras rolled? Where were they when our babies were dying at the maternity ward because the budget had been misspent by the Fernandez family?

Where were these fake cruceños? They were nowhere to be found! At this time, they were celebrating our misfortunes.

c) Subsidized by the State: These power families have controlled state-funded initiatives like the fund for agricultural development. They would take out credits and did not repay them. Thus, our tax money went to subsidize their spending.

Thus, when commercial banks would go bankrupt we would come to learn of their misdeeds. The numbers disclosed include 60 million dollars taken by the Landivar family, 25 million by the Tarabillos, and 60 million in tax evasion by the Fernandez.

d) Anti-nationalist: On October 17th 2003, these families drove us out of the central plaza. A group of cruceños had gathered to plead for justice for the death in El Alto. We were asking for the president’s resignation. We wanted the corrupt man out!

As our actions did not please these families, we were pushed out of the plaza. Indeed, they proved that they were the city “machos” after pushing out the poor. They even manipulated a group of young individuals with messages of hatred and racism to defend the province in their honour.

Given the situation, it is my duty to show the other face of Santa Cruz: the city of the honest, humble citizen.

a) Santa Cruz is multicultural: we are a large population with people from diverse origins. We have cambas, collas, chapacos, chiquitanos, ayoreos, guarayos, guaranis, yurcares, and others that love our Santa Cruz. They wish for a Santa Cruz of opportunities and not one that cultivates the interests of only the rich.

b) Santa Cruz is mostly poor: In our province, the “cambas de verdad” are those outside the cliques; the “cambas de verdad” value hospitality, justice, and honesty. They live in La Villa Primero de Mayo, El Plan 3000, La Pampa de la Isla, and La Oriental. They are employees of agricultural empires that work the land day and night. Some of us are professionals that manage hectares of land for a miserable salary. We are “cambas de verdad”!

c) Santa Cruz is nationalistic. Many of us professionals studied in other cities of Bolivia. We have shared our culture and experienced those of others. In fact, a guy from Oruro wrote our favorite song, “Viva Santa Cruz”!

Why not make the best of our diversity? The magnificent and beautiful cruceñas recently ran a fashion show in a few cities in the east to expand their brand into the Andinian markets. Why not make the best of our diversity? Isn’t it so that El Alto, La Paz, Cochabamba consume a great portion of the rice, sugar, and fruit that we produce? Why not make the best of our diversity?

In conclusion, we have to let everyone know we don’t agree with the opinions and actions of the elique cliques. Santa Cruz is more than just cliques! “Cambas de verdad” inhabit this region!

“Cambas de verdad” have been viewed as a mass of simple peasants during election time. The irony is that we do not agree with the actions of our “bad” leaders. Their campaigns don’t full us. we are aware of their obscure paths.

Viva Santa Cruz! Yes to autonomies, but with respect to others!

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Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada
This work by Spanish 401, UBC, Professor Jon Beasley-Murray is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada.