By Sister Anitawa (Ann) Fearday, ASC
Background: The Adorers of the Blood of Christ have had a mission in the Andean nation of Bolivia since 1973. Sister Anitawa (Ann) Fearday, from Teutopolis, Illinois, has served there since 1974. Her ministry includes coordinating a parish in formation, working at Salud Integral, a multipurpose center, and doing pastoral work in the rural area of Camata, eight hours outside of the capital. The Adorers have another deep connection to Bolivia. Seven Bolivian-born women have become Adorers. Those sisters, and one Bolivian novice, are part of our U.S. Region. The following is Sister Anitawa’s first-hand account of the unfolding crisis surrounding last weekend’s ouster of Bolivia’s president.
Several days after former Bolivian President Evo Morales left Bolivia for asylum in Mexico, I sense a somber uncertainty in the air.
The former llama shepherd from Bolivia’s highlands and the country’s first indigenous president resigned Sunday after almost 14 years in the post. The move followed weeks of protests over a disputed presidential election result.
Looting, vandalism and arson have prevailed. I could see from the window of my house one of the many roadblocks, hear the dynamite exploding and smell the tear gas being thrown to disperse the crowds.
Yesterday, I spotted 25 roadblocks as I walked home empty-handed from the market. There is little to buy.
I ate in the soup kitchen of the people’s market, which was packed, but the food was delicious. People are testing the freedom of leaving their houses.
Evo Morales resigned when the Organization of American States reported fraud in the October 20 elections and the armed forces finally forced him to quit.
The deputy head of Bolivia’s Senate, Jeanine Áñez, has stepped in as interim president until a new election can be held although some are protesting her assuming power. The atmosphere is tense, with the army now called in to back up the police against pro-Morales demonstrators. The country is paralyzed with schools and businesses closed and no public transportation. People are encouraged to stay indoors.
A true democracy is the dream of the Bolivian people. It has been a privilege to have been a part of their struggle these last few tumultuous weeks. It is their salvation history as well as mine and, “si Dios quiere,” (God willing), we will soon enjoy a brighter day. Viva Bolivia!