Bolivia: Evo sends army to oil installations

President Evo Morales announced Aug. 24 he has put all of Bolivia’s gas and oil installations under military protection, as protesters in Santa Cruz, Chuquisaca and Tarija departments prepare new actions to resist national control of the hydrocarbon resources. “I’ve spoken with armed forces commander in chief, General Luis Trigo, who has precise instructions to safeguard and defend the Bolivian people,” Morales told a meeting of pro-government labor unions in Cochabamba. “The government will protect the pipelines and valves.” (AFP, Aug. 25)

Annoyingly, even the French AFP uses imprecise terminology, referring to Bolivia’s departments as “provinces” (provinces are actually interior divisions within departments), and to the national government as “federal.” The Bolivian system, like the French, is centralized—explicitly not federal. In Bolivia, as in France, the largest units of internal administrative division are departments—which, unlike states in federal systems (e.g. the US), have no independent legislature, judiciary or police. This is exactly what the Bolivian conflict is all about. Does AFP just fudge it in their English-language accounts, figuring gringos are too dumb to understand the accurate terminology? As we’ve noted, BBC has made the same error. Very demoralizing to see the supposedly more sophisticated European media adopt dumbed-down US standards of reporting.

See our last post on Bolivia.