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news | by Eduardo Avila | June 09, 2004 at 02:16 PM | comments (0) | trackback (0)

The Bolivian government, through the Minsitry of the Presidency, has launched an interactive website pertaining to all issues of the upcoming gas Referendum, which takes place on July 18. The website and information campaign called "Te Toca A Ti', reflects President Carlos Mesa's journalism and media backgroud.

Already there are large amounts of information to wade through, including "Frequently Asked Questions", an interactive Q&A where a staff member answers basic questions (so far there are too many "What is the Referendum?" questions), and transcriptions of speeches made by President Mesa on this issue.

Naturally, this is a website that is pushing for a "Yes" vote, but also to push for the Referendum process itself. The campaign director, Diego Massi said,

"We are going to reinforce the Referendum concept. We have to defend the Referendum as an alternative. There are two roads: Either (the citizen) will vote in the Referendum or we'll get into a fistfight. That's pretty graphic. You have the democratic alternative or you have the alternative to blockcade the roads, throw stones, go the radicalized route - which could be a way to solve this - but we don't believe that's the correct way. I think we'll continue to reinforce the idea that the Referendum is the democratic and rational way to make a decision."

Naturally, since this is a pro-government and pro-Referendum site, the radicalized sectors such as the COB and elite business sectors are not represented here. The opinions expressed here are rightfully critical of those groups that choose to cause disruptions in Bolivian daily life and force for the government to take action, which often leads to loss of life by both protestors and police or military.

Examples of radio spots in four languages: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara, and Guarani can be heard in the section: 06. Mensajes Radiales

Real-life examples such as football games and everyday items like Coca-cola are used to explain the wordy, and often complex questions. Definitions for uncommonly used words like "PROMULGAR" and "ABROGACIÓN" are given special emphasis. There are even parable-like stories, utilizing daily situations to explain the five referendum questions.

The 20-member campaign team includes filmmaker Marcos Loayza, best known for his movie " Cuestión de fe." The entire campaign is being financed by the Corporación Andina de Fomento (CAF).

Sure, this website shows Bolivia's attempt to utilize technology for informative and educational purposes. Perhaps it can appeal to the large population of University students who utilize the internet on a daily basis. However, a large population in the rural sector will not use the site, much less have steady access to the internet. The real question is how this information is arriving to the far reaches of Pando, to the heart of the Chapare, or to the oil fields of Camiri.

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