Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Ceremonial Hubris [On the Lighter Side]

As the Inauguration of president-elect Evo Morales and his government nears closer, many have question how the ceremony will be conducted. MABB points out the three ceremonies that will take place (true to the Bolivian tradition of over-extending whatever near-holiday is around). Here's my take, the first and most relevant, the traditional ceremony that takes place in Congress will occur January 22, some 250 official guests are expected. I continue at risk of sounding like one of those social columns while I try to drive some political points through…

Who are the lucky A-listers?

So far the heads of state confirmed to attend are Alejandro Toledo from Peru, Néstor Kirchner from Argentina, Nicanor Duarte from Paraguay, Tabaré Vázquez from Uruguay, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva from Brasil, Alvaro Uribe of Colombia and Alfredo Palacios from Ecuador. Outgoing Chilean president Ricardo Lagos has been invited but probably won’t attend, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and Cuban dictator Fidel Castro will probably attend, Slovenian primer Janez Drmovsek is also confirme -a first and rare visit. At ten presidents and one dictator Evo would break the record of foreign heads of state present at Bolivian inaugurations (previously held by Jaime Paz Zamora at six in 1989). Spain’s crown prince Felipe de Borbón is also invited as are Nobel laureates Nélson Mandela, Rigoberta Menchú, José Saramago and Gabriel García Márquez. The chairmen of several organizations such as OAS and CAN are also slanted to be present. They should bring their own security though, as one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious regiment, the Colorados Presidential Guard, will be replaced by a miners (armed?) "guard" in security tasks.

And the B-list?

Well, some folks I’m not particularly fond of, such as Argentina’s favorite cokehead-turn politico Diego Maradona (formerly a great soccer player), some head honchos of the Movimiento Sin Tierra, some from the “Bolivarian Circles” of Venezuela and the Mexican Zapatistas. We can expect leaders of the Peruvian Etnocacerista movement to show up as well as a few “covert” representatives of “certain organizations”. There will also be some more circus for the people (could we also expect some bread? [flash]) as a number of musicians have pledged to attend.

This last group may give us a performance in the second “ceremony”; to be held in Plaza San Francisco, the popular marketplace from which many a marches have been launched. The plaza can hold upwards of 10,000 people so expect it to be packed with the assorted crowd of campesinos, cocaleros, miners, Trotskyite students professional protestesters, culitos-blancos turn-mazistas, and Evo’s new praetorian guard: El Alto’s “Evo Government’s Defense Committee” (I swear I’m not making this up).

Be very careful about what you wear to this event.

Apparently the fashion world was rattled -for 0.6 nano seconds- with Evo's choice of attire.
(Chewable coca leaf necklaces sold separately, banality included)

The third ceremony will take place in one of Bolivia’s most important archeological sites; Tiwanacu, the beautiful and battered temples and structures built by a civilization that preceded both Aymaras and Quechuas. The site has been appropriated now for little more than a decade, by mystics and tourists (both national and foreign) alike, for the winter solstice festivities (and lots of drinking and partying). These fragile structures will have to take the punishment of yet another new-age revival of ancient customs, as thousands are expected to attend. Here Evo will be invested crowned with the traditional altiplanic galore, the poncho, the staff and the whip. Lots of whipalas to be expected, probably outnumbering the less colorful Bolivian ensign, I’m expectant to see if Evo or García Linera will pledge allegiance to that flag.



eduardo said...

"culitos-blancos turn-mazistas"??

please elaborate ;)

Paisano de Elite said...

Great blog Jonathan, an excellent example of the thinking of a Bolivian intellectual from abroad that also knows the reality of his nation's urban people, and with a touch of comedy, keep it on Cochabambino.

Jonathan said...

Well Eduardo I don't think I really need to, since you've probably seen some in your days as "campaigning advisor" (put that on your resume!). Basically the well-off types (middle, upper class "whites" or mestizos) who sign up for the cause because it's in their best interest, and turn out to be the hardest defenders (hence the z in a play on words for nazis)of the party or the line. I remembered talking to my father about whom would some of his acquientances support for the election and he mentioned a few people whom curiously enough also boasted membership in Cochabamba's country club or lived at las lomas (commonly accepted traits of the "culitos blancos" species) and were now financially supporting MAS and preaching the word of Evo at formerly "elitist" locales... Those, Eduardo, are the people I'm refering to.

Paisano thanks for the compliment and the encouragment, my sense of humor is kind of twisted but I will keep aplying it to the blog in small doses.