The unvarnished truth, from Santa Cruz, Bolivia

From Santa Cruz, With Fury and Pain

Grover Cardozo – Alai-amlatina

Translation: Machetera

I’m at Santos Dumont Avenue at the height of Santa Cruz’s third ring. From the very heart of this land, from this region that is preparing for a hard episode in its history, I have a moral duty to denounce the following, to Bolivia and to the world:

Santa Cruz at the moment is a victim of a political agreement, a bloody pact by those who control the region with a strategy of fear. Powers that articulate a discourse with a Cruceñista appearance, but is nothing more than a concealment of the most perverse dark interests against the people and against the democratically elected government.

The social environment here in Santa Cruz is one of fear and uncertainty. Part of the population has taken on a festive atmosphere, joyful, with marches, carnival music, and dancing youth and children. Other sectors watch in silence, impotently biting their tongues against the activities of the affluent sectors, the light-skinned descendants of foreigners.

The strategy of fear has worked. The hard-line sectors have made the Union Juvenil Cruceñista (Union of Santa Cruz Youth) feared by a good part of the population. Other sectors in turn, put their fear aside and took to the streets and plazas to protest and express themselves on television, radio and alternative papers, but the press coverage of these voices is so small and insignificant as to give the impression that in Santa Cruz there’s only one slogan, one view and one political line.

The communication media in Santa Cruz have reached bottom in regard to their credibility. Radio, television and newspapers have established a direct umbilical cord between themselves and the Santa Cruz Pro Civic Committee as well as the Prefect.

As never before in the history of television communication, there is no room for dissident voices. Many announcers and journalists take it as a given that everyone supports the autonomy statutes and that EVERYONE should vote “yes” on Sunday, May 4th, considering that OTHERS do not count and therefore are not part of EVERYONE. The critical capacity of the journalists for the large media is on hold and many of them don’t even bother to pretend to a semblance of decorum, because in Santa Cruz, those who don’t follow the script are noted by the powerful, and “left defenseless.”

Whoever turns on a television and goes through the traditional channels will see how there is only one discourse, that of the pro-autonomy line, and if the government is mentioned, it’s in the form of disinformation, to indicate that any kind of government is an attack on Santa Cruz, “that the government is making a grab for Santa Cruz.”

The conditions for exercising the right of freedom of expression are extremely poor and this kind of media dictatorship is only paralleled by that of dictatorial government.

The Departmental Electoral Court has the saddest role and Mr. Parada was not only given the sad role of calling the Cruceña citizens to a vote, but through a series of public service announcements, he claims that the Santa Cruz referendum is absolutely legal. “With the law in hand;” they have the impudence to say this to citizens when all of Bolivia and the world knows that it’s a referendum without legal cover and an absolute attempt against the state of law, and for this reason it has the semblance of a political coup d’etat within a democratic regime.

Should autonomy be realized, the event will deserve to be mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records, because it will be the first time such a thing has been brought about via a referendum, a plebiscite, without prior debate, without the benefit of opposing ideas, with such lies, discrimination and contempt for others, that its support will stem from an absolutely anti-democratic climate.

Grover Cardozo is a Bolivian journalist.

Machetera is a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.

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