Today's blog is serious, dear readers. I'm begging for your prayers for Bolivia. It appears the long anticipated civil war between the Collas (government supporters, pronounces 'Coyas') and the Cambas (autonomy supporters) is finally beginning. (In case you're wondering, I'm pro-autonomy.)
Bolivia's president Evo Morales has ordered the U.S. Ambassador out of the country, and Huge Chavez, Venezuela's president, has done the same thing in solidarity. Rumor has it that Evo has asked the Collas to attack the U.S. Embassy. U.S. citizens currently residing in Bolivia are wondering if they'll be forced to leave the people they love if the violence continues - and there's a legitimate fear that their communications are being monitored.
Here's what we know from our sources - I won't say who - but you know the people who are close to me so you know who I'm talking about.
The city of Santa Cruz, where my friends live, is completely shut down – no shipments are getting in or out, and this has severely curtailed the food supply. In the food market nearest to the church, people are looting already. Many of the Compassion school children are only eating the meal they're served at school each day as a result of the diminished food supply - there's little to eat at home. People I know are going hungry. One of the government-run phone/Internet companies has been destroyed by the locals, so much of the phone service is out as well.
According to our sources, there has been a lot of violence in the main square, and the police have been moving in with shotguns and tear gas. My friends have not yet been affected by the violence, and the church is praying that both sides will come to their senses before it gets to them. To read up on what's going on, check out this, this and this.
Past Bolivia trip members are organizing a fundraiser to start a food bank for our partner church in Santa Cruz. If you're interested in contributing, let me know! You can also donate to the Compassion school's emergency fund.