On several occasions, I have thought that I would not have to write the next day and I could devote part of the time to reading and studying, as I have done many times. But the important events that have occurred over the past few weeks, related to the world economy, politics and events such as those taking place in Bolivia, have prevented me from doing so.
At 10: 41 I communicated with Dausá. I wanted to know details of the state of health of Evo and the other Bolivian leaders who are today on their third day of hunger strike. He woke up fine, although weaker because of the lack of food. Those accompanying him, also on strike, are withstanding the situation; they are bearing up well and in a positive frame of mind. They are asking for books. They told the ambassador that they wanted books on Martí, Che and the Revolution. Today, our ambassador was responding to their wishes and sending them the Vida y obra de Martí, El socialism y el hombre en Cuba and other materials.
It is a known fact that the quality of the electoral register has been recognized by diverse international bodies, the OAS and the European Union included, which have no sympathies for the left, which have specialized services and, on the basis of their analyses, confirmed that the electoral register is one of the most serious on the continent.
Despite that, authorities from the legislative assemblies in Beni, Pando, Potosí, La Paz and Tarija - five of the nine departments in Bolivia – challenged the electoral register, in evident complicity with the opposition.
In Bolivia, the party with the largest presence in Parliament is Evo Morales’ MAS (Movement Toward Socialism); of the 130 deputies in the House of Representatives, 72 are MAS members. Thus, it is the most powerful party in Bolivia. The other deputies are divided between PODEMOS (Social Democratic Power), the second largest political party, comprised of the old followers of General Hugo Bánzar; and representatives of other traditional political parties. PODEMOS represents the Bolivian oligarchy. Its current leader is Jorge Quiroga, who assumed the Bolivian presidency shortly before Bánzar died, given that he was the latter’s vice president.
The MNR is the third largest party and is led by Mrs. Mirtha Quevedo. It has a smaller number of parliamentary representatives and they are opposed to MAS.
Unidad Nacional is the other opposition force in the Bolivian parliament.
In relation to Cuba, the main opposition parties are not characterized by their hostility.
Recently, following the constitutional referendum in January, a large Bolivian delegation visited our country in response to an invitation from our Party’s America Division. The delegation was made up of Carlos Borth and Roberto Ruiz, both senators from PODEMOS; Cesar Navarro, a very positive Evo supporter; Mario Justiniano, an MNR deputy and critic of Evo; Hugo Moldiz, editor of the weekly La Época, an excellent writer and a very good friend of Cuba; and Guido Rivero, the executive secretary of the so-called Fundación Boliviana para la Democracia Multipartidista, which organized the trip from March 11 through 15. They were looked after by the comrades from our Party’s International Relations Department.
It has been precisely to promote unity and cooperation among all political forces for the development of Bolivia that President Evo Morales has done everything in his power to foster cooperation while avoiding extremist positions that could damage the revolutionary process. How can anyone speak of extremism when the Bolivian leader consulted with the voters as to whether the size of properties should be 10,000 or 5,000 hectares? For the first time in the history of Bolivia, Evo has created a significant hard currency reserve which is now allowing him to confront the grave international financial crisis; he eradicated illiteracy in Spanish, Aymara and Quechua in less than three years; he has made it possible for the entire poor population to enjoy a secure minimum income; he is recovering energy sources and has secured the admiration of the world for Bolivia.
Our people are contributing to those efforts with their experience in the fields of education and health. Thousands of compatriots are making their selfless contributions there.
Our doctors have given 24,618,833 medical consultations, performed 35, 390 surgical operations and saved 20,102 lives.
A total 386,597 patients have now received eye surgery through Mission Miracle; of them, 25,198 are Brazilian, 24,240 Argentine, 17,008 Peruvian and 309 Paraguayan.
Close to 5,000 young Bolivians are currently studying medicine in Cuba.
This is our modest contribution to the sister people of Bolivia who have been the poorest and most exploited in Latin America.
Fidel Castro Ruz
April 11, 2009
Translated by Granma International - http://www.granma.cu/ingles/2009/april/lun13/Reflections-11april.html