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Wednesday, 12 December 2007
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Friday, 7 December 2007
An Interesting Weekend
Its been sometime since I last wrote and I have finally got around to putting up the tal of our interesting weekend 23rd to 25th November.
As some of you will of already heard we have had an interesting weekend! It all started on Friday when the leftist president Evo Morales and his party tried to bring in a new constitution. This would "allow the president unlimited re-election and would give central authorities greater control over public revenue payments at the expense of state governments." Protestors clashed with Police and through the afternoon and into Saturday these continued. Saturday night these increased and we had to stay at home all of Sunday. In the afternoon the clashes stopped, as the Police were withdrawn from the city. This resulted in complete anarchy Saturday night with prisoners escaping from the prison, the fire station being torched, vehicles being bunt out and other properties being ransacked and burnt. As a result of the violence three people have died, one of whom was a nephew to a member of the FHI staff. Monday things were beginning to quieten down and as we understand it local communites were forming their own neighbourhood watch groups in order to take care of their citizens in the absence of any police. So there are positive things coming out of the chaos.
Ed went to Language School Monday morning with the thought that the worst was over, but in the afternoon we were called by our head office in La Paz and told that they wanted us to go there for a few days, as it was likely that the protests could start again. So we are writing to you from La Paz and will keep you informed as to what happens next.
The following weekend
Thank you for all your prayers over this last week, as it turned out that there was no more trouble in Sucre after we left on Tuesday morning, and so on Saturday 1st December we went back. The time in La Paz served as a good break from Language School and gave us a chance to see some different surroundings as well as an opportunity to speak with people in the office about my job. Sarah also got to speak with Jana (who we were staying with and is having her first baby in 6 weeks), about helping her in some of her jobs she is doing. This could include helping in the preparing for Missionary's coming to Bolivia , some translating and other stuff. Sarah came away feeling positive about the opportunities even if a little daunted by it.
The situation in Sucre
Last Tuesday or Wednesday the police were told to return to Sucre and things have remained quiet. The city is now back to normal and the only signs left are the graffiti and damaged buildings. Things are likely to stay this way for now, although they may heat up again around the 14th December when the constitution goes to a referendum. Today (3rd December) we heard on the news that in Venezuela the President Hugo Chavez has failed in his attempt to bring in a similar constitution to Bolivia in which he could have stayed in power indefinitely. These seems to have given Bolivia 's opposition parties some hope for preventing this proposed constitution. I have included another missionary's view on last weekend to give some back ground.
On the political front, having taken the constitutional assembly to the military base and out of the city (a decision which was one of the main factors behind the anger of the people), the number of constituent members present (almost entirely representing the ruling party) were able to make quorum, and, in a turn of events that surprised everyone, after a year and a half of virtually no progress in writing a new constitution, approve a whole new constitution. It appears now that, having worked on their own constitution for some time behind closed doors, the main reason for getting the Assembly to a new location, was to do what they did, and approve their own constitution, without the presence of the opposition members to slow things up. However, the approval was only on a 'general' scale, and the constitution still has to be approved in detail, and approved at national referendum level. So, there are a lot of complicated factors still in the process, (the constitution has been declared illegal and invalid by the opposition) and added to that, with the anger at how things have been done, we are left with a volatile situation. The general feeling is that, with the official end date of the Constitutional Assembly being December 14th, there will be a time of relative calm for a while, until we get closer to that date.
Please continue to pray for Sucre in this interesting time.
Give thanks that the violence for now is over and pray for those families who lost loved ones.
Give thanks for a good break in La Paz for us and for finding out more about what we will be up to in the future.
Give thanks for our safe return and getting back into view in Sucre .
Please pray for peace in this country, it has a turbulent past and is likely to continue for some time to come.
Please pray that as we head towards the 14th the different parties would talk and not be stirred up into violence again.
Finally please pray for us as we continue to settle into Sucre . We have found a Church to join, so please pray for the building of some good friendships.
Ed, Sarah and Alana
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