As I send out this email, Santa Cruz is in its 12th day of an indefinite strike over the Bolivian government’s refusal to carry out its decennial census which should have happened this year. The census is important, not only for Santa Cruz but for every region of Bolivia, because the distribution of the nation’s population determines which areas will receive greater governmental aid for education and health. It also is a determining factor for the allocation of seats in government. Santa Cruz’s population has boomed over the past ten years and it rightly wants to see those changes reflected in policy as soon as possible.
The short term consequences of the strike are the shuttering of all major businesses and blockades throughout the city that make vehicular circulation for anything larger than a motorcycle nearly impossible. This strategy by the people of Santa Cruz (which I support) is a peaceful way to use economic pressure to motivate the government to act justly and swiftly to carry out a census as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, violent pro-government forces have reacted dangerously and mercilessly by sabotaging and blockading roads needed to bring in food and gasoline to the city, and they have clashed with peaceful protestors. Food prices are rising and the cost of petrol is selling for four or five times the normal cost. Trash collection has stopped, leaving more than 8,000 tons of garbage at homes and in the streets.
Please keep the strike in your prayers, that it would be resolved quickly and peacefully in a way that will benefit as many Bolivians possible.
Before the strike, I had the pleasure of catching up with Nicol in person. She visited the children’s home Talita Cumi to celebrate Women’s Day with us. Nicol continues to spend time with her friends at school and she’s looking forward to her graduation on November 15. Upon graduation, we will help her transition into the next phase of her life: looking for a part time job and pursuing her higher education most likely taking art-related courses at an institute.
Ruth, who will be joining Ruth’s House in January, will be celebrating her graduation soon as well. I’ll be sure to include photos in my next update.
Please be in prayer for the two of them as they wrap up their high school education and enter the university phase.
Despite the current challenges of the strike, Nicol at Ruth’s House and the children at Talita Cumi are well-fed and they are continuing their education via Zoom. In fact, last week, when the atmosphere was calmer, the boys and I walked a couple of miles from the home to take in the sights of the strike. It was strange walking peacefully through one of the busiest avenues in Santa Cruz that is typically packed with cars, trucks, and buses. The boys enjoyed the adventure.
My devotionals with Lider (17 years old) and Juan Pablo (15 years old) are still continuing. We’re working our way through the book of Philippians, studying themes related to Paul’s joy in Christ, what it means to live as citizens of heaven, and living humbly as explicated in the Kenosis passage.
Juan Pablo attends church with me and takes English classes there before the service. He recently graduated from the beginner’s English class and received a certificate, about which we were both quite pleased.
I also had the joy to take a few of the kids out to the movie theater to celebrate their good grades. We laughed our way through “Tad, the Lost Explorer and the Emerald Tablet.”
Thank you for your continued prayers and support.